touching down lightly |cs152








































Le nouvel album de l'artiste français Sylvain Chauveau est consacré au piano solo, il a été enregistré et mixé sous la houlette de John McEntire (membre du célèbre collectif post-rock-jazz Tortoise basé à Chicago). Une collaboration de haut niveau qui signifie très certainement la volonté de ce musicien non musicien, puisqu'il ne maitrise aucun instrument mais qui sait toujours faire preuve d'ingénuité et de sensibilité, de sortir de cet étroit et étouffant cadre franco-français. Sylvain Chauveau affirme à nouveau sa fascination pour le silence, celui qui donne un autre sens aux jeu instrumental et à la voix, ce silence qui s'intègre comme élément compositionnel et décuple le pouvoir émotionnel d'un compositeur ou d'un interprète dans des univers aussi différents que ceux de John Cage, de Morton Feldman, de Dave Gahan ou de Mark Hollis. Durant 47 minutes Sylvain Chauveau laisse aller ses doigts sur un choix de notes guidé, non pas par une technique ou une école pianistique, mais par un geste à l'évidence venant du coeur, de l'esprit et peut-être même de l'âme. Tout cela est naturellement cadencé par un rythme qui semble presque biologique. On est loin des musiques d'ameublement car, paradoxalement cette économie de notes requiert, mobilise et vampirise l'entièreté de nos sens. Finalement cet album est un peu celui que tous les mélomanes non musiciens rêvent de faire lorsqu'ils posent leurs mains timides, inexpérimentées mais sensibles sur un clavier. Beaucoup en ont rêvé, Sylvain l'a fait, intelligemment et harmonieusement, cela fait toute la différence, je vous encourage à aller sur son nouveau site internet pour vous procurer cette nouvelle merveille. Eric Serva (France Musique)

Lightly indeed. Lovely solo piano piece, somewhat out of Feldman but not so much as to be distracting. Soft throughout, notes allowed to hang, occasional gentle repetitions, notes spiced with just enough sourness to avoid any overly sugary content. Echoes of Tilbury as well. Very enjoyable recording. Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)

Sylvain's aural signature, a clustery piano phraseology, mannered, melodious and oftentimes attractive enough, seems at first out of place on Creative Sources, a label based in Portugal known for its relentlessly shifting electro-acoustic configurations.
To the extent that Chauveau's signature undergoes a self-dissolution, mutating into an impersonal movement through shifting sands of indefinitely repeated beginnings, the work is perhaps not so very far from the normal network of relations associated with the label. One piece, consisting of several segments, is presented with mineral clarity. This emphasizes the brittle beauty of the instrument, its gentle, plaintive character, captured well by the lucid recording. But to be effective, especially in what is ultimately non-linear improvisation, animated by several periods of silence of varying length, it also requires a certain thrust in connecting the various movements, a thrust which is lacking in numerous areas. Chauveau lets the line dangle too loosely in places, or pulls it prematurely, in the end giving the piece an uneven pace that doesn't always hold one's attention. This is on the one hand.
On the other, at least in certain places, the piece does deepen through concentration, taking form, gaining in weight, shade and motion, and dissolving and reshaping in an expanded auditory field. It's also unobtrusive and pleasant from afar. It has it's own coherence and time sense — a series of evocations and excursions into memory interspersed with improvisatory plunges into the here and now. Some of the pieces simply aren't well linked; Chauveau's comings and goings are too apparent; and the proceedings never come full circle on their own. Max Schaefer (The Suidco's Ear)

fortepianowe granie w stylu Johna Tilbury'ego z wałtkami i odniesieniami do Mortona Feldmana, spokojne i wyciszone. Astipalea Records (Felthat)

Sylvain Chauveau on Creative Sources? What’s going on? Upon listening, I quickly understand why his regular outlets passed on Touching Down Lightly. This work is by far his most Spartan. It’s a 45-minute piano solo in which there is more silence than notes. That said, if the piece isn’t beautiful (with that little actual substance, there can’t be beauty - and that’s not an esthetic judgment), it’s a pretty enjoyable piece that plays elegantly on tension and evanescence. I’m thinking about Morton Feldman, but also The Necks and Buhren und der Club of Gore. And the sweetness and melancholia are 100% Chauveau. François Couture (Monsieur Délire)

"Touching Down Lightly" contains a quote from Derek Bailey on its sleeve, from which this album takes its cue: "The old jazzers, when you asked them what they were doing, they would say, I just play, man. And that is a philosophical statement". Bailey, famously, believed in the primacy of playing over the end product, which he compared in its banality to the image of a completed jigsaw. Here, however, is an end product, and in the light of its driving sentiment, it feels a little invidious and paradoxal to assess.
This is a single, extended piece which recalls, if anything, the early piano work of John Cage and Michael Nyman's "1-100". Yet it feels more spare and halting even than either of those. It begins with a series of uncompleted phases, the equivalent f "I wonder if..." or "Could I possibly...", punctuated by lengthy silences. Occasionally, single notes cluster into chords, or venture out to the far right of the keyboard, the half phrases swell into sturdy statements, but there is no overall gathering of momentum, or narrative development.
This is almost a meta-piece, a playing of the piano that is about playing the piano. One yearns at times for some of Bailey's busy fretboard garrulousness - a little more play, indeed. The politest thing that can be said of "Touching Down Lightly" is that it makes its point very early on and sticks to it; the best it does somehow immerse you in its spartan sameness. David Stubbs (The Wire)

A well-mannered, gently resonating, partially Feldmanesque (or “post-Grubbs”, as one sneering friend of mine put it) offer for solo piano that doesn't necessitate a huge lot of absorption, though the latter surely helps in discovering a bit of deeper feelings in the interstices between notes and silence. Appreciable for its delicate thoughtfulness and accuracy of rendition, this is another of those releases – several were sighted on these shores in recent times - that fit in numerous kinds of categorization without the urge of going astray with words. Minimalism, improvisation, soundtrack, nearly ambient (ahem) in occasional instances - almost anything will do (“New Age” would indeed be a little excessive/offensive).
At various degrees of listening volume the CD works fine, warranting long moments of tranquillity. Quite honestly, it’s preferable when it slips along, and even behind, your evening activities, leaving a chance of enjoying the clear resonances generated by Chauveau's fragments of chords, skeletally repetitive melodies and single tones. Now, I like to think that something extremely insightful is implicit in the consecutiveness of these simple gestures; still, the sonic outcome does not encourage disproportionate analyses. Not many comparisons are available, too, if not the vague references quoted at the beginning. Let’s leave it at this: definitely a pleasurable listen, but not an extraordinary artistic announcement. When in need of giving yourselves some relief after a hard day, Touching Down Lightly performs the job admirably. If you're looking for a solipsist masterpiece, the search isn’t over. Massimo Ricci (Touhing Extremes)

Une singulière musique pour le clavier du piano en solitaire dans l’espace du silence dont Sylvain Chauveau semble examiner la profondeur et la durée en y laissant mourir le son des notes touchées, chacune avec une intention particulière. L’auditeur se concentre alors sur la qualité de l’intervalle entre les quelques notes choisies et leurs dynamiques respectives. Isolé dans le silence, un arpège égrené confère alors tout son pouvoir à l’intention de l’artiste. Cela pourrait sembler austère, minimal et contemplatif, mais l’oreille exercée se laissera emmener par la pensée du compositeur (?) et les balancements sur trois notes prendront un sens mystérieux. La moindre hésitation est perçue et change la perspective de l’ensemble. Les durées des silences et les notes isolées (vers la 16’) acquièrent une dimension de plénitude.
Une répétition de notes s’éteint et revit instantanément et alors le sentiment du silence disparaît. Chaque élément ou idée prend tout son sens et leur succession renouvelle les couleurs des sons qui flottent dans le vide. Touching Down Lightly, qui porte bien son titre, s’étend sur 47 minutes avec une belle grâce et se termine par surprise. Cet art difficile où le moindre son et chaque moment pèsent de toute leur légèreté relative ou de tout leur poids, trouve ici un bel achèvement. Enregistré en 2008. Sincères félicitations. Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg (Orynx-improv'andsounds)