Benoit Pioulard, Lasted
Heady, imaginative songs, comprised of vague hints of something discolored and out of focus
It should come as no surprise that Thomas Meluch's most treasured instrument is the one-track tape recorder he carries around the city of Portland, Oregon, where he lives and records under the name Benoit Pioulard. His second-most valued instrument isn't an instrument at all; it's a Polaroid camera. So it's not hard to imagine why Meluch's songs sound like they're steeped in a hazy whir of nature and tape decay, or why they resemble the environment Meluch might capture with his camera — overexposed or underexposed, with color spilling out from all directions.
On Lasted Meluch expands his sonic palette, letting his voice take on a more prominent role in the songs. Tracks like "Shouting Distance" and "A Coin on the Tongue" — which resemble Kurt Vile, albeit less lovelorn and outwardly dark — make for the most upbeat pop moments on this album: wispy harmonies, slight percussion and a vague melody. Between the few infectious songs are the brusque instrumental interludes Benoit Pioulard is best known for. Some idle by, some catch your attention. "Nod," the album-closer, is heavy with fuzz. "Passenger" rides a slow beat and hisses by in just over a minute. They're heady, imaginative songs, comprised of vague hints of something discolored and out of focus.
The great thing about Lasted is the nuance. Bridging some of his influences — William Basinski and Grouper come to mind — Meluch obliges the listener with details burrowed deep under the surface, forcing the attention away from structure and form and simply on the sound, creating, once again, an assured, personal album, a statement on what he sees.