For those musicians who are inclined and able, electronic composing must feel like a kind of Wonka-esque playground — a realm of practise where unfettered creative imagination can be explored at will. It’s a solitary exercise where a composer is never hampered by democratic decisions or group dynamics. They can lord over their compositions in total freedom, with a virtually limitless array of sounds and structures at their fingertips.
Montreal-based composer Michael Silver, who releases music under the moniker CFCF, is an artist who revels in the solitary nature of his craft and the freedom it provides. His new single “Self Service” — the title track off a new EP of the same name due out February 16th — is a dizzying house track that displays finely-tuned technical acuity and freewheeling creative energy. The fact that “Self Service” is such a noticeable departure from the last few CFCF releases — which dabble in everything from ambient house to Balearic beat to chamber jazz to pop — reinforces Silver’s aversion to stasis in his songwriting.
“Self Service” is constructed from minimal elements that mount and combine in a way that ensnares the entire body. For a genre so intrinsically tied to the shared space of the dance floor, house music is also intensely personal. So much of its utility comes in how it can produce an interior state of physical and mental bliss. Silver says that the track is an ode to “the inane interior joys of self-indulgence”, which is a sentiment that seeps into every aspect of the song. His push to indulge finds Silver disregarding one of house music’s signature tropes: mechanical consistency. Instead, “Self Service” showcases a multitude of rhythmic and melodic variations that ebb and flow with impressive precision. The interplay between all these variations creates moments of stunning tension and catharsis not often heard in more monochromatic house compositions. As much as “Self Service” waxes nostalgic with its sounds, the urgency of its structure suggests that Silver is primarily committed to subversion and reinvention.
The oft-heard call to “treat yourself” is a slippery slope. Indulgence can only get you so far before you fall prey to too much of a good thing. That said, I think that Silver’s music stems more from a mindset of not being so hesitant to nourish the simple pleasures of individuality — it’s more epicurean, less all-out hedonistic. In an age of the online echo chamber and near-absurd levels of curated content, we shouldn’t forget that we have individual tastes and ideas that are worth exploring. Silver’s body of work as CFCF is a testament to self-service; to following the mind wherever it may go in order to better understand our passions, desires, and idiosyncrasies.