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.