Recording information: Montreal (2008-2009).
Photographer: Jimmy Limit.
Mike Silver is CFCF, and he's a student of electronic music. In fact, his first album, CONTINENT, plays out like a master's dissertation on the subject. The range of sounds and amount of styles Silver utilizes are quite impressive. There are aspects of mid-'90s Warp-style IDM and fragments of house music, rave, disco and mildly funky pop that flow through the album like alternating currents. There are lush synths, rubbery basslines, tinkling pianos, 4/4 beats, drifting ambient waves and peaceful melodies throughout, as well as the occasional screaming guitar line and laid-back vocal. If you close your eyes at any point as the record plays, you might find yourself transported back to the early '90s. CONTINENT would sound right played between U.F. Orb, Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and a Soul Family Sensation single. And though it all holds together remarkably well as an album-length listening experience, there are a number of songs that could be extracted, placed on mix CDs, and score big points with the recipient of the disc. "Half Dreaming" is a bubbly, almost giddy pop-house jam, "Monolith" is an epic-length ambient techno workout that shows Silver's melodic skills at their best, "Invitation to Love" is a slinky bit of post-disco electro-pop; there are enough high points to give the album a real kick. Silver's programming skills, his light touch, his knowledge of the styles and his gift for concocting songs with melodies that stick in your ear mean that CONTINENT ends up being far more than just an academic exercise by this year's electro valedictorian.