Radiance and Submission
I don't much care for electronic music. The dance stuff is usually too dumb, the avant-garde stuff is too jerk-offy, and even the highly-regarded "smart" stuff generally leaves me expecting more. I've tried and tried over the years, and have never really found my sweet spot. In another recent plunge, however, I came upon this album by CFCF. And I like it—though I'd say it barely even qualifies as electronic music. CFCF himself is definitely an electronic artist—his previous records all have a bit of a minimalist dance vibe, a driving 4/4, all the usual hallmarks of whatever sub-sub-genre a music writer might prescribe to it—but Radiance and Submission
is something different. It's pastoral and romantic, open and patient. It's closer in spirit to late-era Talk Talk or the quiet moments of Peter Gabriel's solo records than it is to something like Scrillo or Diplex or whoever the kids like this week.It's mostly instrumental (except for maybe 2-3 vocal tracks), and there are plenty of electronic elements (both digital and analogue), but it also incorporates plenty of acoustic guitar and piano and percussion elements. I'm not saying it's a great or perfect album, not at all. It feels almost like a stepping stone to something great, though. This guy behind CFCF gets it
, and this record is full of mature choices, both in composition and production. The sad part, though, is that most of the reviews I've seen for it are pretty lukewarm. And that gets deep into my issue with music writing when it comes to the electronic music world: it's this ridiculously insular set of genres and subgenres and trends and rules, and it seems like albums and artists (sorry... "producers") get judged not on the quality of their music, but by how well they played by the specific rules of their chosen sub-genre, and if they maybe tweaked one little aspect of it (but not too many
aspects!) to put them in the position of tastemaker rather than follower. Looking at it as an outsider, it strikes me as this horrible fashion contest. So then suddenly you get all of these people reviewing Radiance and Submission
under the guidelines of some genre called "Night Bus" (not even kidding), and guess what? They don't like it! Well they're wrong. It's good. I'll be keeping my eye on CFCF for a little while, and hoping I can find at least one more "electronic" artist to add to my meager resume in the near future.