Release Date: Oct 14, 2016
Record label: Kranky
Over a decade's worth of albums, Thomas Meluch took Benoît Pioulard's music in such wide-ranging directions that, by the time of Sonnet's expansive ambient instrumentals, it seemed unlikely he'd return to the project's folktronic beginnings. However, he does exactly that with The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter, an album title that hints at coming full circle: if Precis was a concise introduction, then these songs are a poignant summary. Benoît Pioulard's music feels lighter and freer than ever, even as it touches on heavy subject matter.
The peculiar title of Benoît Pioulard’s latest album gives the impression that it could be some kind of best-of collection. It isn’t, but The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter could stand in as a succinct summation of Thomas Meluch’s charismatic melding of dream-folk, field recordings, and sandwashed atmospheres. The completion of The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter has been trailed by poignant timing and tragic coincidence.
Over the past decade-and-a-half, Thomas Meluch (aka Benoît Pioulard) has covered a lot of musical ground. The Washington-via-Michigan producer has averaged a release per year, tackling electronic, ambient, electroacoustic and even shoegaze and folk along the way but on his latest LP, the aptly titled The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter, Meluch has focused on a subject that has seemed to elude him over the years: himself. According to Pioulard, the album was recorded during a rough period in his life; the 13-track LP tackles such subjects as grief ("I Walked Into a Blackness and Built a Fire"), turmoil ("In-the-Vapor") and self-medication ("Narcologue").
Benoît Pioulard — The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter (Kranky)Photo by Sean Patrick CurtisAs was widely noted (including by us), Thomas Meluch’s last Kranky LP as Benoît Pioulard was his most instrumental, abstract work to date, but it’s worth noting that the songs on Sonnet weren’t necessarily originally conceived as opaquely as they were presented. Instead Meluch made specific effort to remove himself more from many of the songs, giving us both one of his best records and one of his least direct. Now, with the brief but never slight new The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter, he takes the opposite tack, foregrounding himself, his voice, pop structures and his impressionistic and sometimes diaristic writing more than ever before.