[Paper Bag; 2013]

While the subject matter of CFCF’s (aka Michael Silver) last release (2012’s Exercises EP) was solemn and grey, taking influence from the ambient piano music of Philip Glass, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and David Borden, and washing it over with relaxing studied washes of synths, his follow up seems to take inspiration to a more refined and basic level. Music for Objects is exactly as it says on the tin; after watching a documentary by Wim Wenders about the fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, Silver started looking differently at the objects on his desk. Music For Objects acts as companion piece to its predecessor, but despite its mundane inspiration, it’s a much livelier and enjoyable listen.

Silver is still working primarily with piano, but here the mood here takes different turns than before. While the “Exercises” on his previous EP tended to unfurl with light washes of noise and patient click tracks, on Music For Objects you’ll find major key melodies hopping about (“Glass”), a smooth sax-led lounge track spiralling out of control (“Camera”), and what sounds like an rainforest coming to life (“Keys”). It’s moments like these where Silver’s spark is evident once again, and he sounds like he’s finding a way of channelling his tempered, studied compositions with the flair that he displayed on his contrastingly upbeat debut album Continent.

Music For Objects is still more an ambient affair though, and it rightfully sits beside Exercises. While the overcast clouds might have lifted, Silver is still working with repetition and patience, albeit in smaller doses. “Bowl” captures a ceramic sound with light touches of marimba and reversed voices that sound like they’re constantly catching their breathe while “Turnstile” interweaves tricky piano chords into each other with melodies that leave the mood ambiguous. Aforementioned “Camera” takes a looped saxophone riff and builds expertly; despite it being full of rich sounds (mainly due to the brass), it never feels overstuffed but instead manages to sound like it’s simultaneously building itself inwards and outwards. “Keys” is the most active cute here, working amidst sweaty jungle chirps and chatter as the sax once again plays a leading role before evolving into a full creature that oozes with burbling dance floor-aspiring synth arpeggios.

Despite the everyday, if not mundane inspiration for these tracks, Silver has created an impressionable collection of tracks that capture something identifiable about each of the objects. Of course, hearing these traits does involve interpreting the music in a rather literal sense, which can feel a little beside the point. “Turnstile” sounds suitably mechanical and it’s easy to picture something revolving while the ninety-second “Perfume” evokes images of invisible scents wafting through the air delicately; “Ring” sparkles with twinkly piano and when “Bowl” is playing I imagine things rolling around inside a ceramic one.

Silver does move beyond stereotypical ideas of what sounds these objects might create were they to have a musical soundtrack of their own and that’s where Music For Objects succeeds. At its best – primarily the two middle cuts, “Camera” and Keys” – the EP seems to transport you to another world, if not try to create one, but it falters in that it’s rather mundane at points. “Lamp,” “Bowl,” and “Turnstile” have interesting traits but they’re not devoted to being entirely ambient or solely engaging tracks in themselves. Consequently, there are points when listening to Music For Objects can be surprisingly, if not frustratingly passive; the aforementioned highlights make an impression for sure, but otherwise you can find yourself not having taken much in.

Listening can just feel like you’re staring blankly at your own surroundings, which, I suppose, is kind of the point here. It’s great that Silver is exploring this side of his creative mind so thoroughly and also that’s he’s managed to make the titular objects sound alive, but the EP seems to hint at an urge to get back into more lively surroundings. At the very least instead of sounding like he was curling up into a melancholic hibernating state as on Exercises, here he sounds like he once again wants to fight the boredom and start actively engaging the listener on all levels. After all, you can’t sit around staring at the objects on your desk all day.