Wednesday, November 01, 2006

BENOIT PIOULARD: Précis (Kranky)

BENOÎT PIOULARD
Précis
KRANK098
Kranky 2006
14 Tracks. 36mins52secs




Benoît Pioulard | Kranky

Despite what the name and album title could suggest, Benoît Pioulard is not the latest French talent to make it to these shores. Instead, Thomas Meluch, who hides behind the Gallic-sounding moniker, hails from the South Michigan city of Ann Arbor. For years, he has been assembling precious little vignettes which he has then collected into very limited self-released albums and EPs, yet, Précis, released on Chicago-based imprint Kranky, is Tom’s first record to benefit of a wide release. The album follows Mr. Pioulard’s debut Enge EP, published earlier this year on Moodgadget. While released at just three hundred copies, the EP received praises on both sides of the Atlantic and introduced Benoît Pioulard’s delicately contrasted soundscapes. With Précis, he expands on his sonic scope by adding rich layers of electronica and shoegaze to swathes of pop and folk.

The album opens with the scintillating psychedelic drone of La Guerre De Sept Ans which sees clouds of acoustic sounds slowly merging into a dense noise formation, yet rapidly, the tone changes entirely with the pop-infused Together And Down and Triggering Back. While the former is an introvert piece with lingering motifs, the latter reveals a more upbeat and pastoral approach, with subtle undertones adding delicate relief to the main melodic theme. The process is repeated at regular intervals and various density all the way through this album, from the laidback Alan And Dawn or Palimend to the lush and expensive Needle And Thread or Ash In The Sky.

In between his perfectly formed pop songs, Tom inserts a series of experimental sonic vignettes. While using the same mixed palette of acoustic instrumentation, treated acoustics, electronics and found sounds, he indulges in more introspective soundscapes and arranges them into dense formations which, at times, evoke the granular sound of Fennesz or label mate Tim Hecker. Elsewhere, echoes of Simon & Garfunkel, Slowdive and Greg Davis trickle down Meluch’s compositions and give this album its true identity.

Précis is a mature and convincing follow up to Benoît Pioulard’s debut EP and shows a great deal of control on sounds and melodic structures. In just over thirty six minutes, Meluch assembles a fascinating collection of songs with clear evocative scope and creates one of the most interesting debut albums of the year.

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