“Nuage” by Sylvain Chauveau

A glorious collection of film soundtrack work from French composer Sylvain Chauveau.



Type has always been committed to releasing music with visuals in mind; ‘cinematic music’ is a phrase we coin often, but there’s more than a good reason to use it in relation to ‘Nuage’, the latest album from French composer Sylvain Chauveau. He last surfaced with ‘S.’ a short-form record exploring his more electro-acoustic leanings, but this record, which collects his recent scores for two films by Sébastian Betbeder sees the composer returning to the sound he explored so successfully on FatCat’s ‘Un Autre Décembre’. With a hand-picked group of players on piano, viola, violin and with Sylvain himself on electric guitar the music roots itself in the traditions of great film scoring. There are defnite nods to Krzysztof Kieslowski’s composer Zbigniew Preisner in the deep sense of emotion and melancholy, and Chauveau strips his pieces down to the bare minimum of what might be needed, ridding himself of orchestral excess or meaningless sentimentality. Thus short motifs rise and fall, tangling their way through the album, appearing and re-appearing subtly and beautifully.

Even without the visual accompaniment you begin to imagine just what the films may have held, what may or may not have happened; love, loss, deceit and nostalgia. There are clear stylistic links to the work of fellow contemporary composer Max Richter, not least with the scope and quality of the recordings and ‘Nuage’ should delight those who enjoy Chauveau’s romantic side. The album has eschewed any academic experimentation and revels in a haunting simplicity, and for those of us hanging on Chauveau’s every movement the decision couldn’t be more welcome. Maybe the track which sums up the album so perfectly is the centrepiece and longest track ‘Fly Like a Horse’, which interestingly is the only track not to utilize the classical players. With electric guitar and light electronics Chauveau creates a mood and a texture while sounding completely different from the rest of the album, sums it up completely – deeply moving and incredibly memorable.