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Benoit Pioulard, "Précis"

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Not a mysterious Frenchman in fact, Benoit Pioulard is Thomas Meluch, another Midwestern boy mutating folk tradition through personal mythology, only this time it’s not founded on states in the Union or suburban Americana but on the fuzzy sublime of forests and oceans, cryptic continental romance and Bergman films.



Précis is home-recorded, and the hermetic warmth and flayed edges of its creation become part of this music in an intimate way.  Pioulard plays brisk autumn marches at Janschian speed while leaves and waves and tiny lights build up a thin swirling of lofi electronic noise around.  His low croon is the timeless, orchestrated sound of British folk singers, leading, but always just part of the mix, nestled and mumbled in a golden vagueness.  Weaker tracks are surprisingly the ones least bogged down in the smoke and mirrors of Pioulard’s bedroom production, ones where the vocal and guitar seem at competition in an anxious clinging to his mopey, jangly structures.   The aching ballads and death shanties of “Palimend” and “Together & Down” work best, leafy static layers hanging above the boy with guitar, pulling him up and along with a spooky separation. 

Titles “Coup de Foudre” and “Sous la Plague” emphasize the sublime evocations of such heady atmosphere; the singer in these songs is a participant only as much as he is swept away and disintegrated.  Songs are suite-like or heavily cyclical, smartly straying from emphasized refrains or dynamics that would simplify or materialize the atmosphere’s glittering hover.  Pioulard is an excellent writer of moods, and whether his lyrics are clichéd or unintelligible, the melancholy sentiment, autumnal glory and earnest pleadings of his songs come through in a refreshingly direct way.  Despite European posturing, his images of spirit-filled desolation and romantic death feel easily approachable, universal beauties with youthful hope that I can believe in.


Last Updated on Thursday, 02 November 2006 06:05  


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