[AMBIENT/EXPERIMENTAL] Benoît Pioulard – ‘Sonnet’ Album Review

[AMBIENT/EXPERIMENTAL] Benoît Pioulard – ‘Sonnet’ Album Review

[AMBIENT/EXPERIMENTAL] Benoît Pioulard – ‘Sonnet’ Album Review

43
0

benoit-in-post

Sometimes the cliche “got what it takes” doesn’t even approach your doubts: what if you have no idea what it takes in the first place? What if your target was wrong altogether, and all this invested time has now been squandered? You throw back a few bourbons, if you’re me, decide you’re a multifaceted person who finds diverse interests, all to convince yourself it’s OK if you fail. Proceed through your list of interests, the things that make you a well-rounded person, as one ice cube after another melts, dissolving the sugars and bitters in your whiskey glass. A watered-down old fashioned is better than an imagined old fashioned. “Got what it takes” — probably be easier to reach that without your ambition. As you swirl the perfumed cocktail around in the translucent tumbler — no pure crystal round these working-class parts, thank you very much — you hear the lifting fog and the speckled, diffused light colors your arms as it begins to filter through the canopy.

When your fears lift with the haze, it’s easier to discern that these doubts, these demons, gotta be exorcised for you to grow. They gotta go for you to experience something new. When people become static, one-dimensional, and complaisant, it’s not because of anything intrinsically comfortable about their lot, but because those demons burrowed deep within their psyche. Continual expansion means becoming comfortable not with your consistent success, but in having those doubts and knowing the spells you need to cast them out. I know this, and the reminder is spoken each time I quell the demons.

Thomas Meluch’s latest release as Benoit Pioulard, “Sonnet,” sees Meluch castigating any doubts to tack in a different direction than previous albums. The ambience that once seamed together the tracks — a background driving force, an undistracting glue — now comes to the forefront, stripped of their lyrics, percussion (mostly), rhythm, and structure. In their stead we have what was always there but buried: melodies unfolding more patiently than spring, layered textures fuzzier and deeper than your chenille throw, and reverb more cavernous than a 15th-century cathedral. Meluch has always hinted he was going to go in this direction (his albums have always incorporated tracks like this — take “Foxtail” on 2013’s Hymnal, or “La Guerre De Sept Ans” on 2006’s Précis, for instance), but something held him back from expanding these ideas into a full-length.
 

While the patience and production of “Sonnet” produce a lofty, airy auditory experience, their weightlessness finds grounding only in the interim tracks. As such, it can sometimes be a little difficult to tell the tracks apart, as on my first listen when I realized the track had finally changed with a new guitar progression on track number #4, “Is in Its Clearest Form”. This may indeed be the point, though, as the album is most certainly meant to be taken as a whole: even the verses’ names come together into a poem that captures the ambience of the music. This isn’t a collection of singles. Each track won’t become a Soundcloud hit (although… ehm, listen to a track via Soundcloud above…); you need to listen start-to-finish and let the idea permeate.

Over the last several years, squeaky-clean ambient music has given way to glitch, distortion, and crackling. Sure, there’s always been experimentation with the latter, but it’s never been the primary mode. Benoit Pioulard, strangely enough, already contributed to this evolution in his past albums and in his collaborations with Rafael Anton Irisarri (under the Orcas moniker), and is well slated to keep pushing these boundaries if he decides to keep making albums like this. Let’s hope he dares again to make himself vulnerable – to make something different. To step beyond the border of his comfort. To banish those doubts. Check out Sonnet March 30th, from Kranky.
 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIPwDywpNd8&w=640&h=350]

43

Add to the story...