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Benoit Pioulard

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Benoit Pioulard is the music project of Thoman Meluch, and Lasted is the projectís third album. Back in 2009, i was lucky enough to have the chance to see Mr. Meluch perform his music in concert. I say "lucky" because Benoit Pioulard is an ambient project, and such artists just do not tour very often.

Meluch makes music from strange looped samples, strummed guitar, piano, drums, and voice. He does all of the music, and constructs his songs out of layers of different textures. He uses a lot of space in his music as well, meaning that each song might only feature a few layers, with plenty of silence between them. This gives the music a nice dreamy feel, and in fact i find that listening to Lasted (or any of his releases, honestly) is like experiencing someone else's daydream. Meluch defines a space, and sounds float in and out of focus within that space.

This is, of course, the classical definition of ambient, and Benoit Pioulard releases bear a lot in common with Eno's early ambient records. It is that type of ambient, and not the electronic kind that came out of England in the 1990s. For a comparison to this record, think more Ambient 4: On Land and less Lifeforms. I find that i enjoy both types of ambient, but i suspect that there are people who really only enjoy one or the other, so you might want to be aware of where Benoit Pioulard falls on the spectrum.

Musically, the songs tend to fall into two categories: there are the fuzzy and unfocussed interludes and then there are slightly longer, more in focus, folk rock tunes. Of course, no one song is fully in either spectrum, but the album tends to ebb and flow between the two types.

And there are strong examples of each type of song. For the shorter interlude pieces i like the very first track, Purse Discusses a lot. It starts with a train horn, then descends into a fuzzed out drone, like a Boards of Canada song played on a radio with a bad antenna. This is a lovely static and keyboard haze. Trains noises are also present on Weird Door, another shorter piece that i like. (Please note that it is a coincidence that both of these feature train sounds, and not that such samples dominate the record.) Weird Door pairs a staticky train loop with some light tinkling keys for an overall effect that reminds me of Hood.

Ailleurs is my favorite of the more song-like tunes. Meluch sings and plays acoustic guitar here, making this a sort of folk song. He loops some strange clattering noises in the background, which adds a nice texture to the tune. I also really like Lasted, which has a good drum beat, a background drone, Meluch playing guitar in two layers -- one of which chimes in a very lovely manner, and light vocals. This song reminds me of something that July Skies would do, except with a slightly deeper voice.

I am impressed. There is a lot to enjoy here, and the album is fascinating in its depth, and i find it good for both focused listening and as background music. Now i hope that he tours again!

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   Concert: Sat.2.May.09


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