Benoit Pioulard: The Benoit Pioulard Listening Matter

- Skillfully blending folk and electronic styles across thirteen beautifully balanced and dynamic tracks, Michigan’s Thomas Meluch has revived his Benoit Pioulard moniker and developed a thought-provoking soundscape on his most recent release The Benoit Pioulard Listening Matter.

The album is as melancholy as it is introspective. While the release date aligns with ten years since the date of his first LP Précis, it is a body of work dedicated to Pioulard’s brother who passed away on the day it was completed. Such heavy, formidable sentiments are carried so lightly by the delicate harmonies and jangly strumming; grounded in Meluch’s deep, soulful vocals.  

Pioulard’s 2015 full-length, predominantly instrumental release, Sonnet, explored ethereal soundscapes of electronic echoes and sustained ambience, a holistic work with similar sonic ideas flowing from one song to the next. This new release reintroduces vocal-centred compositions while stepping noticeably towards acoustic folk conventions. Whether appreciated as a collective whole or individually, the songs of The Benoit Pioulard Listening Matter are diverse in a way that is truly captivating and moving.The album takes a characteristic resonance and lo-fi crackle and pairs it with folk-influenced guitars, percussion and mellow voices, tackling deliberate lyrical matter that truly tap into your mind.

Tracks such as Like There’s Nothing Under You, Defect, Layette and The Sun is Going to Explode But Whatever It’s OK, present complex contradictions - homages to human imperfections and crippling fear wrapped warmly in jovial melodies. Pioulard lures with tones of elation then guts you with dismayed personal reflections: “So I will give chase / The back roads are clearer than before / But mist is in pace / And I can’t see the paths anymore”.

While the songs range from only forty-five seconds to just longer than three minutes in length, Pioulard has deftly crafted each to be enrapturing in ways that toy with the heart and mind and then reach deep into the soul. The Benoit Pioulard Listening Matter is an incredible addition to an extensive discography by Meluch, and definitely one to turn to when you’re looking to lose yourself in a maze of thought.

- Alyssa Bebbington.

Album Details

Album Title: The Benoit Pioulard Listening Matter
Artist: Benoit Pioulard
Record Label: (Kranky)