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Sylvain Chauveau

The Black Book of Capitalism

(Type; US: 17 Feb 2009; UK: Unavailable)

Sylvain Chauveau’s The Black Book of Capitalism is an odd little record, to say the least. Initially released in 2000, this mini-mantra from former Micro:Mega instrumentalist Chauveau manages to run a gamut of post-rock pseudo-classical structures that are ideal for either late-night driving or emotional climaxes in certain films. 

At times, the tropes that Chauveau culls from are remarkably familiar: “Dernière Étape Avant le Silence” sounds like a James Bond score as composed by Philip Glass, “Ma Contribution À l’Industrie Phonographique” is the kind of static-wash lullaby that would sing Kevin Shields to sleep, and “Je Suis Vivant et Vous Êtes Morts” manages to rip the whole glitch/IDM template right out from Oval without batting an eye. Unfortunately, even Chauveau cannot escape some of the worst avant-clichés around (the litany of sex noises at the end of “Vous Êtes Morts”, for example), but when he’s focused, he can achieve true emotional depth with only a few simple chords. 

Opener “Et Peu À Peu Les Flots Respiraient Comme on Pleure” sets string sections atop a repeating beach-wave beat for a surprisingly profound effect, while the excellent guitar-driven number “Dialogues Avec le Vent” reaches murky dark corners with its trembling, almost fearful oboes quivering softly in the background. Ultimately, The Black Book of Capitalism isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s soaring highs announced a powerful new talent in the realm of avant-garde composition, and nine years since his debut, Sylvain Chauveau shows no signs of slowing down.


Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and many more. Evan has been a guest on HuffPost Live, RevotTV's "Revolt Live!", and WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album, and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.

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