CFCF Pays Homage to the Heady Years of Y2K on 'Memoryland'
Published Apr 05, 2021Here is another quality electronic release setting out to explore a specific musical era. Last month, British producer Danny L. Harle mined '90s rave styles to excellent effect on his debut LP, Harlecore, and now, Canadian producer CFCF (Mike Silver) has delivered Memoryland, a fun and highly evocative trip through the heady years of Y2K. With periodizing conceits like this, there's always a risk that the results will end up coming across as mere exercise, a clinical deployment of knowing techniques rather than an authentic sublimation of one's influences (a romanticized perception one still strays from at their own peril). Here, however, Silver manages to walk the line here, turning out a varied and clever album — even if he indulges in some startlingly on-the-nose homage from time to time.
Indeed, how you feel about artists being guided not just by broad stylistic influences but by specific tracks from specific albums will likely guide your own opinions here, as some of the more celebratory moments on Memoryland get very close to outright imitation. It's hard to find fault when the results are good (which these are), but it's definitely an example of a risk that paid off. "Model Castings" borrows the programming and production style of Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker" down to some fairly specific details, for instance, and "After the After" is taken straight from the Squarepusher playbook — specifically "My Red Hot Car" from Go Plastic. Perhaps most bittersweet is the very particular-sounding solo in disco-funk workout "Self Serve 1999," an obvious ode to Daft Punk's glorious "Digital Love." Silver is certainly no slouch, but the gulf between inspiration and result is never more apparent than here; too soon, Mike.
While these heavy debts don't exactly sink the proceedings, Memoryland is arguably at its strongest when its homages and nods are less vigorous. The brief but surprisingly evocative "Suburbilude" is a fine example: its buzzing guitar chords shimmer out of the void like some kind of lost transmission from the past, an errant file in your Limewire queue, and it does more to encapsulate the album's nostalgic mood than any of the more calculated moments; sometimes the spirit translates better than the letter.
This isn't the only track with guitars either — Memoryland is as equally informed by seminal alternative acts like Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins as it is by electronica heroes like Underworld or Daft Punk; it cuts a rich swath, and while it may ultimately have more appeal if the Pumpkins' "1979" was your 1995, anyone looking for a well-organized trip into the dial-up times of yore will find much to enjoy on Memoryland. (BGM Solutions)