Benoit Pioulard - Sonnet LP
Benoit Pioulard's fifth album shifts away from his languid dream-pop songs of bedroom folk melancholia sung with a maudlin, reverb-saturated baritone we'd often heard from him before, in favor of thoroughly abstracted numbers. He builds this lush shoegazing wash from field recordings and his responses to them through guitar and tape manipulation, with nothing digital getting in the way of all of this tactile, gossamer haze. Sonnet is an entirely instrumental album, which is certainly not out of the ordinary for the roster of Kranky Records, the home for A Winged Victory For The Sullen and Tim Hecker, two heavyweights of blearily atmospheric music; but we have to say that the Pioulard (instrumental) voice is especially a thing of beauty. The sibilance of air conditioning vents, summer time lawn sprinklers, washing machines and the mid-day rasp of a swarm of locusts can become indistinguishable from amplified tape hiss. That's where Pioulard (who sounds French but is actually a Pacific Northwesterner named Thomas Meluch) begins to shape the work of Sonnet. Guitars, loops, and some twinkling synths come into the mix all of which are firmly sympathetic and complementary to the bittersweet coloring from his tapestries of sound. These droning nocturnes reflect the shimmer and feel of a Cocteau Twins instrumental or the ambient interludes found on Boards Of Canada or the even more soaring numbers from Troum. Highly recommended, this gets asked about and purchased by customers nearly every time we play it in the store!