Following quickly on the heels of his S. EP release of only a month ago or so, Nuage finds Sylvain Chauveau back in familiar form, ditching the longer, droning explorations of that previous release for material that's much closer to his past work. A compilation of two scores for the films of Sébastian Betbeder, Nuage doesn't really feel like a split release at all, with a large batch of short tracks that explore like-minded motifs in ways that put an emphasis on economy both in running time and depth of instrumentation.
And really, that's what Chauveau has been doing for most of his compositional lifespan. This is his seventh full-length release, and while his work isn't really thematically comparable to most composers that one would consider to be "minimalists," his instrumentation is certain efficient and often masterful. An early reminder of this is album-opener "Pauvre Simon," which mixes a melancholy string progression and sparse piano notes in a way that calls to mind Arvo Pärt's "Für Alina."
Working with a small group of players (violin, viola, piano), much of Nuage plays out in somewhat similar ways, with either strings or piano establishing a melodic core before the other adds depth. The two-part album-titled "Nuage II" and "Nuage III" both follow the lead of the album opener with sustained string pulses backing up sparse piano, while the viola and violin go solo on the beautiful (and too short) "Vers Les Montagnes" while the piano takes solo duties on the more lyrical "L'Orée Du Bois."
Chauveau (who plays guitar on this release) only really adds his sound on a couple tracks, including a long feedback drone on the end of "Marianne (Variation)" and in a repeated melody (that's augmented by subtle electronics that sound like morphed horns) on the longer "Fly Like A Horse." The latter track shows off a different side to his composition and manages to not sound out-of-place on the release despite the different instrumental make-up. With nineteen tracks running a brief thirty-five minutes, Nuage never really hangs in one place for too long, but with themes revisited and a general mood, it never really veers too far from a specific feel either. It has things in common with everyone from Eric Satie to Max Richter, and with some really lovely sections, fans of his past work (or artists mentioned within) will want to seek it out.