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CD Feature/ Maxence Cyrin: "Modern Rhapsodies"

img  Tobias

The cover song has turned into something of an evidence of incapacity, a sign of underveloped creativity and a lack of ideas. Gone are the times that a popular artist could make a name for himself by interpreting the music of someone else – and even the most commercial stars are making sure their names appear in the writing credits, for credibility’s sake. “Modern Rhapsodies”, then, is a statement of defiance, an entirely contemporary piece of music that harks back to the “golden times”.

Truly, this album laughs into the face of all that judge a book by its cover (even though it is a truly remarkable one in this case). I will admit that I was sceptical at first myself. Did the world really need an album by a Pianist-turned-DJ-turned-Pianist-again, who decided to pay hommage to the anthemic rave songs of his wild youth by taking the comfortable seat behind those 88 black and white keys? It sounded too much like another forced marketing stunt, like a “novelty” without the “hit”. But all of that was before I actually pressed play. For when I was a mere 20 seconds or so into the instrumental version of Depeche Mode’s “Behind the Wheel” that I let go of all my doubts. The monotonously meandering original turns into a  melancholic memory, a meticulous monolith of sadness and drifts off into a world of its own. This was no money-hungry wannabe who feasted on the genius of someone else, but a genuine music lover with the aim of transforming some of the most powerful hymns of the dancefloor into something disturbingly different. Cyrin deserves credit both for making some unusual repertoire choices and for finding a soul where none was to be expected. Admittedly, “Go” already bases on classically-trained film composer Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin-Peaks theme. And it bears no surprise that melodic masterpieces such as “Unfinished Simpathy” (Massive Attack) or Manuel Göttsching’s “Sueno Latino” work well in the pure setting of a man and his piano But digging out the sheer beauty of supposedly cold, repetitive and emotionless “techno”-tracks such as “LFO” (a massive chart success in the earliest moments of the genre) is an act of wonder.

All of this is done almost completely without the help of additional effects – only “Sueno Latino” meanders off into space at the end with the help of a few triggered delays. There is not a moment of boredom among these 37 minutes and the lesser-known pieces work just as well as the famous tunes. The best part, however, is that even if you know the music, you will appreciate it as something of its own. “Modern Rhapsodies” may be an album of covers in its nature, but it doesn’t sound like one. May the golden era of the cover song return.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Maxence Cyrin

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