the lexicon

a writing portfolio by Alexandra Savvides

Benoît Pioulard – Précis

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BenoitPioulard.jpgThe old adage of judging a book by its cover shouldn’t always be applied to albums. In fact it was the enchanting cover art gracing Benoît Pioulard’s debut release, Précis, which first drew me to his work. Such intriguing imagery deserves exploration, and Precis certainly delivers on its promise early on. Pioulard is the musical alter-ego of Michigan resident Thomas Meluch, and even though Précis was released in the last throes of 2006, it still managed to garner enough acclaim to land on several “best of” lists for the year. Signed to the prolific Kranky label, Meluch provides a refreshing change to much of the output surrounding the DIY or home music scene.

Simply describing Précis as electronic music would be doing the album a great disservice. It is an intimate voyage encompassing folk-pop, shoegaze and field recordings and the perfect aural backdrop for Meluch’s whispery voice. The lyrics, whilst tinged with the excitement of found love, also work on the flipside when things do take the wrong turn.

Meluch is also a meticulous stickler for the physical reminders of life – whether it’s the Polaroid series that grace his website or the collection of ‘old’ sounds dating back ten or so years that appear as seamless links in his compositions, he is seeking something that is all too forgotten in today’s digital world. The sounds on Précis are exactly what Meluch is trying to hold onto: from the rhythmic, perpetual motion of Triggering Back to the haunting samples of Palimend which sound as if a ghost is humming along with the main vocal line. Patter morphs into an instrumental evocation of the ebb and flow of a storm passing whilst Together & Down maintains a minute of static, near-monotone vocals and then, without warning, surprises with a lurch into delicate, nearly overly pretty glockenspiel.

Précis is not just a journey into some unknown place – it is somewhere that exists within the imagination and sometimes crosses over into real life, just like those stray light streaks on a batch of old Polaroid films. Even though every moment on the album may not work to begin with, the method with which Meluch pieces together each and every composition is worth listening to time and time again. Which is, I think, his point.

Published on The Program, 25 January 2007

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Written by lexstatic

March 17, 2008 at 5:49 am

Posted in Album Reviews

Tagged with ,

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