review

Textura

Though Silencio is supposedly a one-person project, namely Julien Demoulin who's credited with guitar, field recordings, bass, synth, and electronics on When I'm Gone, much of the vinyl album's material was composed by Demoulin and keyboardist Nicolas Lecocq. Aided as well by Bernold Delgoda (bass, synth, electronics, drums, percussion) and Lénina Epstein (electronics on “The Easy Way Out”), Demoulin and Lecocq have crafted a strikingly harmonious suite of melodious ambient music. Calling it ambient is a bit of a misnomer, however, for the simple reason that, even though Silencio's electro-acoustic music, dedicated (by the group's own admission) to the exploration of themes such as absence, memory, distance, and sleep, is appropriately soothing—certainly none of the album's tracks will fray anyone's nerves—it's hardly wallpaper music nor lacking in compositional development and melody.

Melancholy is the reigning emotion throughout, with a track such as “Down With the Ship” rendered even lovelier through the addition of cello playing (by Baptiste Fichaux) to a setting that's already beautifully serenading in character. Florence Bizette likewise elevates “The Easy Way Out” with violin playing that's mournful in the most appealing sense of the word. There's a stillness about Silencio's music that makes it highly refreshing, a fact born out by “Wasted Youth (Part I, II & III),” where guitar shadings and delicate electronic textures intertwine to form eleven minutes of pastoral splendour. The group's music is so quiet, in fact, the drum playing that surfaces during the penultimate piece “Taking Time” at first startles, coming as it does after so many minutes of restraint.

Apparently, it took seven years for Demoulin and company to complete When I'm Gone, proving that, as with wine and a precious few other delicacies, some things simply need time to develop. True to the group's name, the album's eight pieces are understated and therefore could go underappreciated, especially when music of such refinement and craft is released during a time when life is generally saddled with an excess of noise and static. What a shame it would be if those who might most benefit from exposure to Silencio's music were to remain unaware of it. On a final note, the cover image displays the icy majesty of mountains from the Alemannic Alps, but the music itself is suffused with intimacy and warmth.