Posts Tagged With: Thomas Meluch

Radial – Benoît Pioulard

Benoît Pioulard‘s Thomas Meluch’s latest body of work sees him releasing Radial, a three-track album just over 40-minutes in length. The latest album sees Meluch continuing much of his experimental ambient work, all in the hope of raising money to cover medical bills (through the use of a pay-what-you-want model). The album comprises some of Meluch’s most interesting bodies of work, showing a strong creative streak that draws much out of the ambient music genre. Radial at times feels a little hastily thrown together, but there’s evidence of a real dedication to the craft, making it one of Meluch’s more stronger independent releases.

Radial features many elements we know and and understand from Meluch, though there’s something a little different this time. Everything seems to rely mostly on Meluch’s ability to create large washes of ambient noise to help push along the album, with surprise elements coming in effortlessly to help build up the individual elements. Each track has its own identity, with some very interesting motifs coming out at each point. Notably in the album’s 22 minute opener, ‘The Very Center Of Its Flame’ harkens back to Meluch’s 2015 album Sonnet, in instance, the album’s track ‘The Very Edge Of Its Flame’. Here we’re seeing Meluch drawing more out of this initial idea in the creation of something ambitious.

It is perhaps important to take note of Meluch’s decision to include a reworking of Aphex Twin’s ‘Stone In Focus’ on Radial. The decision to do so is perhaps ambitious, though we get to see more insight into how Meluch operates and create his music, with Aphex Twin’s original track acting as a launching off point for Meluch to begin his own version. Some may find Meluch’s experimental style of ambient music a little less interesting than those at the forefront of the genre, perhaps mostly due to his reliance on walls of noise. Those who enjoy it though and simply let the music transport to whatever destination will no doubt find Radial an interesting release.

Meluch has certainly been prolifically acting in the past few years, pushing out releases at an incredible rate. It seems that with each release, we’re shown more of what Meluch is capable of, and perhaps just how ambitious he can be. There’s something about Radial that seems to draw the interested listener in, enveloping them in a world that is entirely their own. In terms of ambient music, it may not be as minimalist as some people may prefer, but it is indeed every bit as creative and every bit as relaxing if one simply allows the music to be. As of now, Radial is perhaps one of Meluch’s more interesting releases, that fans should definitely find much to enjoy from.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • The Very Center Of Its Flame
  • Madrigal
  • Stone in Focus

Benoît Pioulard latest album ‘Radial’ is out now, available  at: https://pioulard.bandcamp.com/album/radial

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The CD Critic’s Top 5 Albums of 2015

5: Strangers To Ourselves – Modest Mouse

‘Strangers To Ourselves’ was certainly an album many believed to be in a limbo, always being recorded but never being released. The announcement of Modest Mouse’s sixth studio album ‘Strangers To Ourselves’ certainly brought with it equal amounts of anticipation and skepticism, though this reviewer believes that the album delivered perfectly, with the album featuring some of the best and most memorable songs from the band thus far. The album itself might feel a little muddled at times, and offer a few tracks that don’t really work all that well, but when Modest Mouse push out tracks like ‘Lampshades On Fire’, ‘Ansel’ and ‘The Ground Walks With Time In A Box’, we hear once again what it is that makes Modest Mouse so amazing to listen to.

4: Ones And Sixes – Low

Low’s previous album effort of ‘The Invisible Way’ may have polarised some people, but there was something wonderfully gentle and gorgeous about the whole album effort. The band’s latest album effort of ‘Ones And Sixes’ didn’t continue this gentle expression of music, but did see the band offering something of equal intelligence and creativity. ‘Ones And Sixes’ hearkens back to the early days of Low’s career, whilst still sounding modern and up-to-date in some respects. The album itself is a mostly dark and macabre affair for the most part, whilst still sporting some rather upbeat and fun tracks. At the core of everything though is the perfect partnership of husband and wife team Alan Sparkhawk and Mimi Parker, whose talents of song-writing suggest that they can truly do anything.

3: Universal Themes – Sun Kil Moon

Mark Kozelek’s previous album effort of ‘Benji’ received near unanimous acclaim from many critics, though this one feels it’s his latest effort of ‘Universal Themes’ that stands out. The latest album released under the Sun Kil Moon moniker saw Kozelek offering up one of his most challenging album experiences to date, where beautiful acoustic passages find themselves intertwined amongst hurried vocals and spoken passages, before giving way to rough sounding garage rock. It’s wonderfully immersive, with each song sucking the eager listener right into Kozelek’s head, showing them his own fractured viewpoint of the world around him. It’s not the easiest album to listen too, but it’s one of Kozelek’s most brilliant and amazing ones thus far.

2: Nervous – Siskiyou

Siskiyou’s third studio album saw a band whose arguably relatively unknown truly immerse themselves in the creation of an album, working absolutely everything to the best of their abilities until something they could truly be proud of was produced. ‘Nervous’ saw Siskiyou push out a truly wonderful album, one that was a little challenging in places, but ultimately sincere and full of creativity. ‘Nervous’ was released early in 2015, but somehow tracks like ‘Deserter’, ‘Bank Accounts & Dollar Bills’ and ‘Violent Motion Pictures’ stuck around in memory throughout the entire year. The amount of effort and creativity pushed into this album is incredibly evident, with everything resulting in one of the band’s (and one of Canada’s) best albums of the year.

1: Benoît Pioulard – Sonnet

Benoît Pioulard’s ‘Sonnet’, released on Kranky, seemed to go by relatively unnoticed this year, but for some reason or other it completely ingrained itself into my head and refused to let go. Benoît Pioulard (Thomas Meluch)’s previous albums have all featured an ambient edge, though ultimately dominated by an experimental folk ideology. ‘Sonnet’ saw Meluch completely immersing himself into an experimental ambient album, where walls of noise and static turned into some of the most beautiful music released this year. ‘Sonnet’ earns The CD Critic Album of the Year spot purely for it’s wonderful experimental notions, its sheer amount of creativity, and the under-stated beauty of its music. Perhaps a little out there at times to earn this position, but the amount of joy this album has given me this year is too hard to ignore.

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Noyaux – Benoît Pioulard

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Musician and composer Thomas Meluch, better known under his moniker of Benoît Pioulard, has certainly been busying himself this year. With the release of his latest studio album ‘Sonnet’ on the Kranky Record label, and the two companion releases of ‘Stanza’ and ‘Stanza II’, Meluch now offers his latest EP release of ‘Noyaux’. The new EP continues Meluch’s ambient projects, offering four new droning compositions. Those who enjoy and are familiar with the work of Meluch, especially his most recent releases, will most likely find ‘Noyaux’ to be another enjoyable and strong release, once again showcasing the musicians talents as an ambient composer in a great light.

‘Noyaux’ comes across as an interesting ambient release, and one that perhaps has more strengths than the previous releases of ‘Stanza’ and ‘Stanza II’. On this latest release, Meluch bookends the EP with two long droning compositions, lasting 9 and 8 minutes respectively. This sandwiches together two shorter compositions, that have less time to make themselves known, but do so with effortless ease. All in all it’s another beautiful and dreamy release, and one that lovers of ambient drone will find delightful and easily accessible. Although ‘Noyaux’ is less daring and experimental than Meluch’s album release of ‘Sonnet’, and is perhaps a release that doesn’t showcase the absolute greatest limits of Meluch’s abilities, it does offer a simple and enjoyable ambient experience.

‘Noyaux’ is perhaps less ambitious than some of Meluch’s earlier works, though it achieves what it ultimately sets out to do. The droning qualities of the opening track slowly lull us into the album experience, washing over us through two shorter tracks and then slowly escaping away on the final track, leaving us with a sense of calm and perhaps refreshment. It’s easy music to get lost into, as well as perhaps rewarding those who are more attentive to each and every detail in each of the songs. It seems that Meluch is continuing to push out releases at an incredible rate this year, and one wonders what will be coming out next.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Noyaux
  • Remind

Benoît Pioulard’s latest album ‘Noyaux’ is out now.

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Stanza II – Benoît Pioulard

Continuing the release of companion pieces to this earlier album release of ‘Sonnet’ on the Kranky Record label, ambient musician and composer Thomas Meluch, working under the moniker of Benoît Pioulard, offers the second companion album ‘Stanza II’. Like the previous release of ‘Stanza’, ‘Stanza II’ sees Meluch indulging in the ambient side of things, drawing out elements for long periods of time, resulting in an enjoyable and relaxing album experience. ‘Stanza II’ offers much more of the same as the previous album, offering a less experimental edge than what was present on ‘Sonnet’ and instead coming across as a more traditional ambient album.

There’s many strengths present on ‘Stanza II’ which sees Meluch once again immersing himself in his ambient creative streak. Much of the music on this new release bursts forth in what feels like a very organic way, utilizing drones to create an immersive and relaxing ambient music experience. There’s a comfortable and nice progression to what is featured on this release, which lets each track flow in gently and remain long enough to ground itself before slowly pulling itself away. There’s some elements at play here that make this release a stronger one than its predecessor, mostly in how Meluch develops each track on the album.

 One can find some level of criticism on ‘Stanza II’ for many of the same reasons on its predecessor. Whilst acting as a companion piece to ‘Sonnet’, the album instead seems to lack the somewhat experimental edge the album held, instead opting for more droning compositions, with less instruments, techniques and varying concepts thrown into the fray. It all works wonderfully well in pushing forward a more meditative album experience, where one is relaxed by the music, though the experimental edge of ‘Sonnet’ was one of its great strengths, and one that would have been interesting to have seen pushed forward more on these later releases.

Though it might not be as daring and to some extent ambitious as some of Meluch’s previous works, there’s still a great amount on offer with ‘Stanza II’, which once again showcases Meluch’s talents as an ambient music composer in a brilliant light. The wonderfully relaxing textures presented on the album result in a wonderfully calm and meditative album experience, one that is perhaps more relaxing and calm than the Kranky album release of ‘Sonnet’. It seems with each release, Meluch is indulging much more in his ambient side, and is churning out some really wonderful albums as a result.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • VIII
  • IX
  • X
  • Held In

Benoît Pioulard’s latest album ‘Stanza II’ is out now, available at: https://pioulard.bandcamp.com/album/stanza-ii

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Stanza – Benoît Pioulard

Following on from his latest album release of ‘Sonnet’ on the Kranky record label, musician and composer Thomas Meluch operating under the moniker of Benoît Pioulard, offers a companion piece to the album titled ‘Stanza’. The new album comprises 7 tracks that follow the same vein of ambient drone that was cemented on Meluch’s previous album effort. Much of ‘Stanza’ moves in swirls and drones, sustaining notes for long lengths of time rather than rapidly moving through them. Those who are more taken by Meluch’s slightly more experimental styles established on ‘Temper’ and ‘Lasted’ may find ‘Stanza’ to be a little too repetative, but those who enjoyed the sonic landscapes of ‘Sonnet’ will find this to be a wonderful companion to the album.

‘Stanza’ sees Meluch offering more of the ambient drone style of music that dominated his previous album effort. Whilst ‘Sonnet’ has elements of experimentation intertwined amongst the layers of varying instruments, ‘Stanza’ seems to offer a more drone-based ambient style, not throwing too much into the mix and letting the sometimes sparse layers speak for themselves. Everything results in an incredibly relaxing and sometimes beautiful album experience, really highlighting Meluch’s talent as an ambient composer. It’s arguable that at times there’s a somewhat repetative quality to what is being presented on ‘Stanza’, perhaps due to the nature of not over-complicating the mix with unnecessary elements and motifs.

‘Stanza’ comes across as another wonderful offering from Meluch, showing off the best of his ambient-techniques as did his previous album effort. It’s incredibly easy to allow oneself to get completely immersed and lost in the ambient drones being presented on the album, which never bombards or scares the listener at any moment. Those who enjoyed ‘Sonnet’ will no doubt find ‘Stanza’ to be a wonderful accompaniment, which certainly elevates Meluch’s position as one of the strongest ambient composers working in the scene today.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • I
  • III
  • VI
  • VII

Benoît Pioulard’s latest album ‘Stanza’ is out now at: https://pioulard.bandcamp.com/album/stanza

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Sonnet – Benoît Pioulard

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

American Musician Thomas Meluch offers his latest release via Kranky under the moniker of Benoît Pioulard titled ‘Sonnet’. The new album sees Meluch offering a rich and vibrant selection of sonic instrumentals, making great use of various genre techniques to build up the album experience. Meluch expands upon many of his previous techniques, confidently constructing every detail to present his own personal vision. ‘Sonnet’ seems to occupy a weird and unusual land where everything is washed in hazes of static and noise, with the music being a comforting friend that gently holds your hand as your guided through an uncertain yet engrossing world.

Meluch’s latest effort seems to be one of his most ambitious, utilizing his many musical techniques to build up incredibly mysterious and exciting soundscapes. There’s an incredibly mystical element running throughout the album, joining together each track into one singular listening experience. Certain elements move through gently, building up calm tones that comfort, whilst others rush through layers of noise to greet the listener. It’s a phenomenal effort, one that borders lands where genres are crossed together until they are no longer discernible. This is arguably Meluch at his absolute best, utilizing his many talents to present a wonderful album experience.

Those familiar with Meluch’s style might note his various takes on different genres, ranging from ambient to lo-fi to even folk. On ‘Sonnet’, many of the folk elements we might know of Meluch are mostly abandoned, in favour of lo-fi electronic treatments that form a universal sound across the whole album. It might be a little disappointing to some who might enjoy these now missing elements of Meluch, though the whole album presents so many wonderful elements, it’s hard to notice anything missing as everything feels incredibly complete and whole within its own context.

Meluch’s latest work could perhaps be his best thus far, one that builds upon the many experimental notions previous explored on his earlier releases, whilst pushing out some new and exciting ideas that all fall effortlessly into place. There’s a wonderful notion on ‘Sonnet’ that Meluch is pushing everything he has forward, whilst simultaneously holding it all back just a little bit, never once revealing the whole picture, but offering us a slightly distorted yet equally enjoyable view of the image being created. It’s noisy, sonic and a little confusing at times, but it’s easily one of the best records Meluch has pushed out thus far.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Of Everything That Rhymes
  • Whose Palms Create
  • Upon The Break Arch
  • The Very Edge Of Its Flame

Benoît Pioulard’s latest album ‘Sonnet’ is out now, available through Kranky.

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