Although I haven't heard all of his releases, I've generally been a fan and follower of Sylvain Chauveau. His Un Autre Décembre release on Fat Cat several years ago was a beautiful little release of modern classical with a tinge of electronics, and while his Down To The Bone: An Acoustic Tribute To Depeche Mode release wasn't quite as successful, his subtle hand still shone through on the actual instrumentation of the release.
He hasn't been quite as busy lately, and S. marks his first release in a couple years. At five songs and just over twenty minutes, it's somewhere between an EP and a mini-album, and it's his first release on Type. It also finds him moving further away from his more straightforward compositions into sparse, glacial ambience.
The result is another release that's hit-or-miss, but there are reasons to be hopeful. Opener "Composition 8" runs over six minutes and is basically just overlapping guitar drones that groan in a bass-heavy way while a few occasional note plucks ring out. At one point, a clipped piece of a spoken-word sample arrives and creates a little intrigue, but it doesn't quite make for much of a payoff. "E/R" is even less effective, with repetitive, pinging electronics and filtered drones that again don't offer very much over the course of seven minutes.
Fortunately, there are a couple shorter, solo piano pieces that are quite nice (and more typical of his older work), and the closing track of "A_" builds and shows off some great subtle development in terms of his new ambient/drone work. Similar to the first track, it layers together washing layers of feedback into something haunting, but it progresses a little more quickly, and over the course of just over four minutes more clipped voices and some deep bass drones raise the tension level nicely. Because this is such a shift in sound, it might throw off longtime fans of Chauveau a bit. For the most part, it feels like a transitional release, still touching on old themes while unevenly exploring new ones.