Sylvain Chauveau – Post-Everything

Sylvain Chauveau - Post-Everything, two lionesses in front of a tree trunk lying flat on the ground.

“Post-Everything” is the third in a trilogy of albums from Sylvain Chauveau that deconstruct the pop song format (the first two were “Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated)” and “Kogetsudai”). I’m not really sure which of the tracks on the album are covers and which are original, though after much searching on the Internet I was able to identify a couple of numbers originally recorded by Swedish songstress Lykke Li. Chauveau has radically reinvented his pop songs along experimental, minimalist lines: beatless, often featuring reduced and unusual orchestration, and frequently offering only a fleeting fragment of traditional pop structures.

That said, to my ears the songs on “Post-Everything” remain truer to the pop tradition than those of “Kogetsudai”: on the new album Chauveau sings plainly, often accompanied by Chantal Acda or Myriam Pruvot (of Monte Isola), and it’s usually possible to distinguish verse from chorus, slow from uptempo, consonance from dissonance. The guitar-and-vocals songs feature more conventional guitar playing, and the electronics-and-vocals ones often sound as if they could pass for one of those weird-but-not-too-weird remixes of more mainstream music, despite the contributions of Joseph Clayton Mills of Haptic. If “Kogetsudai” is a china plate smashed into a thousand pieces, “Post-Everything” is the cracked phone screen that remains surprisingly usable despite its multiplication of parts. I found myself missing the more bracing and uncompromising approach of the former. I mean, if I wanted pop, I’d listen to pop music, right?

Well, things are never quite so straightforward, and “Post-Everything” did end up growing on me just a bit, in that annoying way earworm pop melodies often do. Chauveau is a great singer, with a voice that is warm and yet detached at the same time; this works terrifically well interpreting the songs of Bill Callahan on “Palimpsest” with Stephan Mathieu, and almost as well here. His collaborators also put in fine performances, and the use of Jacques Coursil’s trumpet on the abstract, field recording-led final track “Seven Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World” demonstrates a side to Chauveau’s compositional talent I’d like to hear more of. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Lykke Li song to sing in the shower…

Sylvain Chauveau

Brocoli

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