One of my many talents is the ability to be surprised, I guess. Because it seems to be happening more and more often lately.
As the news of a Grammy nomination were swirling around CFCF, aka Michael Silver, I noticed a message slipping in: he’s got more music coming soon. Very soon. Like, there’s a full album out right now. It’s called On Vacation.
And so it goes.
The album, as I described to a friend while listening for the first time, opens like the theme music for an 80s travel documentary, all bright optimism and plastic approximation of co-opted third world instrumentation. But it’s no mock; it’s total reclamation. He’s taking the cheesiest aesthetic slices from our childhoods and refashioning them into the building blocks of the future.
The mood quickly tumbles from get-up-and-go into a melancholic daydream, never even realizing it’s changed until we’re all sucked in. The shortest song on the album, Chasing, is a powerful 2 minute example of this sorcery in action.
There are dozens of little twists that work like magic throughout the 30 minute run time. It’s a cavalcade of pure escape. Quickly the midi era novelty gives way to heartfelt emotion, and the melody transposes a romantic guitar feel. That guitar tone, more than ever for CFCF, has bloomed into something akin to The Durutti Column‘s exploratory grace. It’s a comparison I don’t take lightly, considering band leader Vini Reilly is my favorite guitarist of all time. Then again, it’s not the most audacious idea I’ve got floating around this album.
I’ve now listened at least a couple dozen times, and with each fresh pass, this weird thought coalesces a little bit more: On Vacation just might be the spiritual sequel to Milton Nascimento & Lo Borges’ monumental 1972 música popular brasileira album, Club De Esquina. That landmark recording mixed gentle but virtuoso acoustic guitar with a spinning carousel’s worth of jazz and modern classical instruments, veering into Miles Davis territory before flitting off toward Philip Glass’ towers of light. It’s basically one of the greatest albums of the 20th century and a personal favorite of mine, and I’m finding myself unabashedly comparing this mini-LP favorably to it. That’s an awkward way to put things, but it says what I mean clearly: this is an incredible journey that stands outside of time.
This year has already seen a profound offering of great new music, a trend I don’t expect to wane as the months continue, but I doubt this set is going to stray far from my playlist for a long time. It’s already become my go-to driving music, painting an exotic warmth over my daily commute through the snow.
The entire album is available on Spotify below, and the handsome LP, courtesy of International Feel, can be found at Pacific Beach Vinyl.