FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Meluch

First Listen: ‘Rook’ by Benoît Pioulard

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We are delighted to premiere an exclusive new track from Seattle-based ambient artist Benoît Pioulard. The ethereal ambient bliss of ‘Rook’ is taken from a brand new, handmade, tour-only album of recent works, limited to 100 copies, which will be for sale during Thomas Meluch’s upcoming European tour (see dates below).

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The towering instrumental work ‘Rook’ permeates a vast, otherworldly realm of total transcendence, evoking the timeless sound of fellow luminaries – and Kranky labelmates – Stars of the Lid, Loscil, Grouper and Meluch’s own cherished songbook and storied career. The angelic tones and radiant pulses somehow maps all of life’s fleeting moments in one gorgeous, captivating ripple flow.

The first Benoît Pioulard European tour in three years will take in the following cities:

04 Mar: Cork, Ireland @ Triskel Arts Centre
05 Mar: Dublin, Ireland @ Bello Bar
07 Mar: Reykjavik, Iceland @ Mengi
09 Mar: Paris, France @ Supersonic
10 Mar: Ghent, Belgium @ Dauw HQ
11 Mar: Brussels, Belgium @ Huis 23
12 Mar: Girmont, France @ Une Figue dans le Poirier
14 Mar: Geneva, Switzerland @ L’Usine
15 Mar: Zurich, Switzerland @ Zukunft
16 Mar: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland @ L’Entre Deux
18 Mar: Trieste, Italy @ Tetris

 

At all shows, a brand new, handmade, tour-only album of recent works, limited to 100 copies will be available at the Merch table.

We are extremely pleased to be hosting Benoit Pioulard’s Cork concert:

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Fractured Air & Plugd Records present:

Benoît Pioulard (Kranky) + Wry Myrrh @ Gupld, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork SAT 4th March 2017

Tickets: €12.50 (excluding booking fee)

Purchase tickets HERE

https://www.facebook.com/pioulard/

https://pioulard.bandcamp.com/

 

Written by admin

February 23, 2017 at 8:18 pm

Announcement: Benoît Pioulard (Kranky) + Wry Myrrh @ Gupld, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork SAT 4th March 2017

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We are very pleased to announce the following concert:

Fractured Air & Plugd Records present:

Benoît Pioulard (Kranky) + Wry Myrrh @ Gupld, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork SAT 4th March 2017

Tickets: €12.50 (excluding booking fee)

Purchase tickets HERE

 

2-orcas_2013_sean-patrick_crop_web

Benoît Pioulard (USA/Kranky)

Listening Matter’ is the sixth Kranky album by Thomas Meluch under his musical alias Benoît Pioulard, following the 2006 debut full-length ‘Précis’, ‘Temper’ (2008), ‘Lasted’ (2010), 2013’s ‘Hymnal’ and ‘Sonnet’ (2015). The American sound sculptor – in a similar fashion to his label-mates Loscil, Grouper and Pan American – has amassed a rich body of empowering work, seamlessly creating some of the most affecting and captivating ambient-based compositions of the past decade.

In addition to Meluch’s universally praised solo work, collaborative projects include Perils-duo with Kyle Bobby Dunn (whose debut LP was issued by Desire Path Recordings) and Orcas- alongside The Sight Below’s Rafael Anton Irisarri released on Morr Music.

The Seattle-based composer and songwriter has continually forged utterly captivating folk-infused-ambient song cycles that are rooted in the examination of the self, of questioning of the universe and reconciling the two.

Praise for ‘The Benoit Pioulard Listening Matter’:

“Utterly perfect warmhearted lo-fi pop.”

Norman Records

“8/10 — A baker’s dozen of future-past pop songs etched onto water-warped tape… Euphoric.”
PopMatters

“Imbued with a sense of how fleeting life can be… Meluch’s words are sharp as ever,
evoking worlds of meaning in quick turns of phrase.”
VICE

Benoit Pioulard ‘Layette’:

 

 

Benoit Pioulard ‘The Sun Is Going To Explode But Whatever It’s Ok’:

 

Interviews:

 

https://fracturedair.com/2016/11/01/chosen-one-benoit-pioulard-3/

 

https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/benoit-pioulard-the-benoit-pioulard-listening-matter-interview-stream

 

https://www.facebook.com/pioulard/

https://pioulard.bandcamp.com/

 

WRY MYRRH (IRE)

WRY MYRRH is a recently formed duo comprising composer/GASH Collective organiser Ellen King [ELLLL], and composer/ Crevice member Irene Buckley, WRY MYRRH offers a sparse take on improv electronics, with sinister, brooding drone and noise inflections. As exploratory as it is unsettling, WRY MYRRH’s minimalist improv proves a wholly unique listening experience, heightened to wondrous effect when immersed in a live situation.

https://www.facebook.com/WRYMYRRH/

https://soundcloud.com/wry-myrrh

Fractured Air & Plugd Records present:

Benoît Pioulard (Kranky) + Wry Myrrh @ Gupld, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork SAT 4th March 2017

Tickets: €12.50 (excluding booking fee)

Purchase tickets HERE

 

 

Written by admin

February 7, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Chosen One: Benoît Pioulard

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Interview with Thomas Meluch (Benoît Pioulard).

“…making music has always been a selfish thing that’s rooted in examination of the self, of questioning of the universe and reconciling the two.”

—Thomas Meluch (Benoît Pioulard).

Words: Mark Carry

benoit-ii

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Benoît Pioulard’s prized debut ‘Précis’. Released on the awe-inspiring Chicago label Kranky, the album won the hearts of many with its fragile beauty, heartfelt vocals, shimmering guitar textures, lo-fi production and sincere, beating heart. In truth, Seattle-based sound sculptor Thomas Meluch has continually pushed the sonic envelop and illuminate inner-most feelings through his poignant folk explorations and drone-infused ambient soundscapes over the intervening years. Across records such as ‘Lasted’, ‘Hymnal’ and ‘Sonnet’, the master producer and songwriter has further developed his trademark style: field recordings and ambient bliss become interwoven and buried deep in one’s mind, awash with life’s fleeting moments and faded dreams.

In many ways, this year’s eagerly-awaited ‘The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter’ moves closer to the sonic trajectory of ‘Précis’, which sees Meluch return to the core foundation of voice and guitar. Furthermore, what reveals after many revisits is a distillation of the treasured Benoît Pioulard songbook thus far, where cathartic ballads such as ‘I Walked Into The Blackness And Built A Fire’ (one of the record’s defining moments), endearing pop laments (‘Layette’ with its heavenly harmonies and pristine production), utterly transcendent drone soundscapes (as captured on the cinematic album closer ‘Ruth’) and empowering torch-lit ballads (‘A Mantle For Charon’). Immediately, the rich tapestry and gorgeous melody of ‘A Mantle For Charon’ triggers back to the rich poignancy of ‘Sous La Plage’ or ‘Ash Into The Sky’ (taken from the closing section of ‘Précis’). ‘The Listening Matter’ unfolds like a tapestry of illusions and dreams that awaken a resonance of related feelings and moods: a veil to comfort and protect.

Nietzsche’s writings from 1878’s ‘Human, All Too Human’ I feel shares a fitting parallel with the themes explored on the sound sculptor’s latest masterwork. “Resonance. All intense moods bring with them a resonance of related feelings and moods; they seem to stir up memory. Something in us remembers and becomes aware of similar states and their origin. Thus habitual, rapid associations of feelings and thoughts are formed, which, when they follow with lightning speed upon one another, are eventually no longer felt as complexes, but rather as unities”. The glittering thirteen tracks beautifully captured on ‘The Listening Matter’ are similarly felt as “unities”, with which a river of intense emotion become engrained deep in the rich embers of Meluch’s sonic tapestry. An image that perfectly depicts this illuminating record is also one of the album’s song-titles: “I Walked Into The Blackness And Built A Fire’. The radiant light of hope and strength lifts from the embers of the flames.

‘The Benoît  Pioulard Listening Matter’ is available now on Kranky.

https://www.facebook.com/pioulard/

https://www.facebook.com/Kranky-279206347288/

benoit-i

Interview with Thomas Meluch (Benoît Pioulard).

 

Congratulations on the stunningly beautiful new full-length, ‘Listening Matter’. I love how on one hand, it’s a full-circle back to the debut record ‘Precis’ with its introspective lo-fi folk-infused ambient soundscapes and beautifully realized (& vocal-based) pop structures. But on so many other levels, there’s very much a continuation of the luminous guitar-based loops of found sounds and field recordings explored on the previous ‘Sonnet’ LP for instance, so ‘Listening Matter’ really does feel like a crystallization of the many elements that have been captured in the Benoît Pioulard songbook thus far. Please talk me through the making of ‘Listening Matter’, which has been two years in the making?

Thomas Meluch: A few of the songs were written & recorded in 2014 with a view to making a 7” that would have come out with ‘Sonnet’ as a kind of pop-antidote to the instrumental nature of that album… But that plan was abandoned for various reasons outside my control, and after a while I drafted songs until I had a half-dozen more, which were recorded in a dedicated stretch back in February of this year – some of the instrumental pieces came from other phases in between, but most of the record was done in one very brief stretch after the reservoir couldn’t hold any more…

Your set-up of voice, guitar, loops and some effect pedals has been a trusted constant for you this past decade and on the latest record, it feels as if the results have never been so exceptional and rewarding. The pacing of the record with the carefully interspersed instrumental ambient voyages, makes for such a fulfilling journey. Can you talk me through your studio set-up and layers of sonic detail that seeps into these new tracks of yours and how the minimal framework from which you work from informs this singular, unique sound you have developed?

TM: The website Headphone Commute kindly posted a thing about my ‘studio’ last year, which covers a lot of that. It’s fairly basic but very familiar, and I still use GarageBand and tape recorders for everything, which creates a lot of the lo-fi qualities I enjoy weaving in. I’ve been very glad to maintain, over the years, an ability to listen back to a basic recording and hear what’s missing, so that allows me to get creative in filling in those gaps and attaining the little specific sounds and melodies that buttress the main parts of a given tune.

One of the hallmarks of Listening Matter is indeed the healing quality of the music, and a spirit of defiance resides throughout. I was saddened to learn of your brother’s passing during the late stages of the album itself, and the deeply heartfelt laments such as ‘A Mantle For Charon’ (which I feel is one of your most beautiful songs recorded to tape) feel like an incredible tribute to someone so close and special to you. As a listener, there is a real sense of catharsis throughout these songs, a release if you will, and I can imagine that this sort of effect was occurring for you during the writing and recording stages (as it must always do for the music-making process)? 

TM: Most definitely, and I often wonder how anyone can get along without some kind of creative outlet, as making music has always been a selfish thing that’s rooted in examination of the self, of questioning of the universe and reconciling the two; especially when there’s discord or melancholy in my day-to-day. Most of the lyrics here have to do with self-medication, epiphanies, and all my attempts to smirk at the infinite.

There is a beautiful simplicity to the gorgeous ‘Layette’ with the warm percussion and heavenly harmonies. Was is it a case that some of these songs were conceived and put to tape in quite an effortless and quick fashion? Please recount your memories of the writing of ‘Layette’ and the inspiration in which is draws from?

TM: Yeah, that song in particular was recorded front-to-back in about 2 hours, including dubbing and re-dubbing to mono cassette over old IDM tracks. I wrote it back in 2014, though, and the first version only had one verse so the whole song was about 45 seconds long. This one by comparison is an epic.

I recall you describing several bicycle journeys each week during the making of ‘Sonnet’, which formed the backdrop to many of the resultant tracks and sonic make-up. I wonder did you have such rituals or habits during the making of ‘Listening Matter’ and how soon did you realize that this album would see you return to the more vocal-based song structures?

TM: As mentioned before, a lot of this album was written over a long time and recorded in a very short span, so when I surveyed all the songs I wanted to include I found a way to prioritize and order them – I can never work on more than one song at one time – and worked during every free minute for about three and a half weeks… Before and after work, often late into the night, etc. I just had to clear out the attic, you know. At this point I haven’t written a song with lyrics in over a year, so I wonder if I ever will again. It’s completely possible that I won’t, but I get a lot of peace from that thought as I remain satisfied with everything I’ve made up to this point. What a trip to think that it’s been 10 years since the first one!

Outside of the six Kranky full-lengths, you have been releasing a plethora of equally enthralling musical explorations via your bandcamp page. I always love the DIY aesthetic and handmade feel to all the releases you put out. Looking over your impressive output to date, so many tributaries and streams flow from the many varied projects and indeed each feels connected to one on another also, on a very deep level. The gradual bliss of ‘Seize/Marre’ from last year is a wonderful document in its own right but which also pointed to the musical trajectory of what would come next. Can you discuss the space in time in which this sublime 7″ was brought to life? Also, where do you feel the sonic terrain is heading towards? The possibilities as ever feel (in a word) endless.

TM: A fair number of people have asked me over the years if I would ever widely release any of the things I made on my 4-track as a teenager; given that I’m reticent to do that for various reasons, I thought it’d be nice to revisit those recordings myself, skim off the ideas I like best and use them for something more concise. Hence the lyrics for ‘Seize’ (French for ‘sixteen’, my age at the time) are taken from a few different early songs, as are most of the background elements. ‘Marre’ is a processed collage of a few early ambient experiments from around the same period.

I get the impression that a lot of your work – not least on ‘Listening Matter’ – are based on ideas and sketches of songs from many years previously, where remnants of past memories are re-collected and relinquished on the particular recording. I’d love for you to shed some light on this (if possible!) and maybe the library of sounds you have amassed from a young age? I can imagine there is a close symmetry between music and memory, and how your life in music – and musical life is synonymous with life’s memory.

TM: Yeah, I consider everything in my possession to be fair game, as far as my bin of notebooks and tapes, old photos and all of that. Many of these things work themselves into newer works as they earn new context in my life or illuminate something that I’m drawing on for current inspiration, if that makes sense. Maybe the best example of that on the new album is the second half of “Like there’s nothing under you”, which rips off a 40-second song I wrote for bass guitar and voice back in 2007, during one of the two times I was ever high on cocaine. Never really thought I’d find a place to use that, come to think of it, but here we are. The main vocal melody of “A mantle for Charon” is based on a little melody that I’ve found myself singing idly from time to time for probably 15 years, and I never found a way to use it before writing that song. Things just have to gestate sometimes, I suppose.

I wonder were there any happy accidents that occurred that wound up on ‘Listening Matter’? Another hallmark of this record too I feel is just how vast the sound-world formed is, in just under 26 minutes. For that reason, was the editing and final sequencing stages a difficult part to the overall process?

TM: I really love the way the bird chirps unintentionally respond to my vocals on the song “Defect”, especially as I just blindly dropped that field recording in when I was arranging it. Also, the cassette deck I bought shortly before recording this album wasn’t originally intended as a production tool but I loved its compression so much when I started toying with it that I ended up finding lots of ways to incorporate it, particularly on “Layette” and “Blackness”. As far as sequencing it didn’t really take a whole lot of effort as I found a sort of narrative across the songs as I was recording them and considering final lyric revisions, so for me it tells its own story from start to finish, and there are a few places where one needs to pause and take a drink of water.

Please discuss any records, books, films you have enjoyed the past few weeks and months, Tom?

TM: I’m currently listening to the new Casino Versus Japan double-cassette Frozen Geometry, which is utterly fantastic… But no surprise there. I’ve also been quite enamoured of my friend Dustin’s work as Skin Lies, as well as the drumming of Elvin Jones and guitar of Grant Green over the last few months. Oh and the new Herzog documentary Lo and Behold was wonderful in its ability to make me feel like an incredibly tiny blip on a very long technological timeline. I often wonder which things I use, learn and say every day will be viewed as quaint in the future.

‘The Benoît  Pioulard Listening Matter’ is available now on Kranky.

https://www.facebook.com/pioulard/

https://www.facebook.com/Kranky-279206347288/

 

Written by admin

November 1, 2016 at 8:54 pm

Fractured Air 44: Benoît Pioulard “Kranky Mix”

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‘Sonnet’ is the fifth Kranky album by Thomas Meluch under his musical alias Benoît Pioulard, following the 2006 debut full-length ‘Précis’, ‘Temper’ (2008), ‘Lasted’ (2010) and 2013’s ‘Hymnal’. The American sound sculptor – in a similar fashion to his label-mates Loscil, Grouper and Pan American – has amassed a rich body of empowering work, seamlessly creating some of the most affecting and captivating ambient-based compositions of the past decade. This year has also marked the release of ‘Noyaux’, a four-track EP released on Morr Music and the collaborative project with longtime friend and colleague Kyle Bobby Dunn under the moniker of Perils (the debut self-titled LP was issued by Desire Path Recordings).
Kranky is an independent record label based in Chicago, Illinois. The prestigious label’s first release was Labradford’s debut album ‘Prazision’ in 1993. Some 22 years later, the label continues to release some of the most compelling and adventurous sounds from the likes of Loscil, Stars Of The Lid, Pan American, Grouper, Benoît Pioulard, Implodes and much more. 2015 has already seen latest releases from Benoît Pioulard, Disappears, Ken Camden, Valet, Helen and Christina Vantzou.

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Fractured Air 44: Benoît Pioulard “Kranky Mix”

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-44-kranky-mix-by-benoit-pioulard/

 

Tracklisting:

01. Low ‘Will the Night’ [Songs for a Dead Pilot, krank021]
02. Mirrorring ‘Silent From Above’ [Foreign Body, krank162]
03. Labradford ‘El Lago’ [A Stable Reference, krank006]
04. Loscil ‘Hastings Sunrise’ [Sketches from New Brighton, krank171]
05. Felix ‘Who Will Pity the Poor Fool’ [Oh Holy Molar, krank165]
06. Anjou ‘Adjustment’ [Anjou, krank185]
07. Ken Camden ‘Eta Carinae’ [Space Mirror, krank180]
08. Jonas Reinhardt ‘Modern By Nature’s Reward’ [Jonas Reinhardt, krank119]
09. Implodes ‘Wendy’ [Recurring Dream, krank174]
10. Tim Hecker ‘Black Refraction’ [Virgins, krank183]
11. Belong ‘Common Era’ [Common Era, krank155]
12. Stars of the Lid ‘Tippy’s Demise’ […and Their Refinement of the Decline, krank100]
13. Valet ‘Tame All The Lions’ [Blood Is Clean, krank105]
14. Grouper ‘Labyrinth’ [Ruins, krank189]
15. Windy & Carl ‘The Smell of Old Books’ [We Will Always Be, krank163]
16. The Dead Texan ‘The Struggle’ [The Dead Texan, krank072]

Compiled by Thomas Meluch (Benoît Pioulard). The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or Kranky. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

 


 

http://www.kranky.net/
http://pioulard.com/

 

Chosen One: Benoît Pioulard

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Interview with Thomas Meluch.

“I’d spend 3 or 4 mornings a week at some park or other in the midst of a long bike ride, taping the sounds of anything I could find that was loud enough. The trains and beach-combers at Golden Gardens, the dozens of bird species along the Sammamish River, the weird corners of the so-called ‘Factoria’ industrial area.”

—Thomas Meluch

Words: Mark Carry

benoit

 

Sonnet’ is the fifth Kranky album by Thomas Meluch under his musical alias Benoît Pioulard, following the 2006 debut full-length ‘Précis’, ‘Temper’ (2008), ‘Lasted’ (2010) and 2013’s ‘Hymnal’. The American sound sculptor – in a similar fashion to his label-mates Loscil, Grouper and Pan American – has amassed a rich body of empowering work, seamlessly creating some of the most affecting and captivating ambient-based compositions of the past decade.

The latest record ‘Sonnet’ represents quite a significant departure for the Seattle-based musician (in contrast to previous records that consisted of more song-oriented structures with the core instrumentation of guitar and voice) but ‘Sonnet’’s divine world of swirling ambient sounds and luminous guitar tones – awash with a myriad of field recordings and found sounds – feels like an awakening; steeped in raw emotion and feeling. In many ways, ‘Sonnet’ feels very closely related to Meluch’s previous recording output: capturing the infinite array of transcendent moments that are dotted across the multi-instrumentalist’s sacred songbook.

The album was recorded in the summer and fall of 2013; some harmony loops originated from some vivid dreams experienced by Meluch. Furthermore, no digital/software alterations can be found on the album, which further heightens the experience and sense of emotional journey that sublime ambient compositions such as ‘The Gilded Fear That Guides The Flow’, ‘Of Everything That Rhymes’ and ‘An Image Apart From Ourselves’ guide you on. A seamless array of guitar loops are masterfully crafted by Meluch – many of which were mimicked from found sounds such as bird songs, locust drones and so on – which in turn creates a ceaselessly radiant light of sacred tones soaked in true transcendence.

‘Sonnet’ is out now on Kranky.

http://pioulard.com/
http://kranky.net/

Interview with Thomas Meluch.

Congratulations on the sublime new record, ‘Sonnet’. It’s a real pleasure to speak with you again about this new record. First of all, it’s wonderful to see how ‘Sonnet’ represents quite a significant departure for you (in contrast to previous records) but after many re-visits, in many ways the record feels very closely related: capturing the infinite array of transcendent moments that are dotted across the Benoit Pioulard songbook. Please take me back to the summer and fall of 2013 – the space and time this record was created – and how the songs evolved into their final entities? Was there a moment during this time that you felt these songs would be primarily-based on field recordings?

Thomas Meluch: After recording ‘Hymnal’ I felt no drive to write songs with structure and vocals the way that I have for a long time, so after leaving the UK and taking six months to finally settle down in Seattle I satisfied my creative needs by focusing on field recordings — initially this was an excuse to get out & about and re-familiarize myself with the city, but it became a pretty obsessive project by the summertime. I’d spend 3 or 4 mornings a week at some park or other in the midst of a long bike ride, taping the sounds of anything I could find that was loud enough. The trains and beach-combers at Golden Gardens, the dozens of bird species along the Sammamish River, the weird corners of the so-called ‘Factoria’ industrial area. I began to notice that a lot of these things contained subtle harmonies and repetitions, so when I was more in the mood to pick up the guitar I used those recordings as a primary motivation and things evolved from there.

— 

I was very interested to read how you described ‘Sonnet’ as “an exercise in restraint”, a sentiment which echoes powerfully throughout these divine ambient explorations. In my mind, the record inhabits this other-worldly dimension of your label-mate, Loscil and feels certainly like a distant companion to your previous LP, ‘Hymnal’ (and actually more specifically, the ‘Hymnal’ remix record). I would love to gain an insight into your mind-set and indeed this exercise of creating musical compositions that were centred on field recordings from a plethora of found sounds that you were surrounded by?

TM: This is what I was talking about before, but the bit about restraint, well that came from the realization that if I were trying to interpret these sounds that occur in their pristine, unadorned form, I ought to follow that same guideline shouldn’t I? I remember recording ‘Précis‘ ten years ago, thinking how lucky I’d gotten to pair with a label as amazing as kranky and figuring I’d release one record and be dropped — so I wanted to put every musical idea I’d ever had into it, which is why it’s a pretty dense record by my own measure. Now that I’m significantly older and have found a sort of niche with what I do, it’s wonderful to be feel so comfortable doing whatever I please compositionally without any similar worries.

— 

The record works as one large cohesive whole as opposed to a collection of individual tracks (which of course it is as well!) One of the defining moments arrives half-way through with the arrival of your voice on ‘A Shade Of Celadon’, forming ‘Sonnet’s shimmering centrepiece. What I love is how when certain elements arrive into the forefront of the mix (for example, your voice on ‘A Shade Of Celadon’), it immediately makes a profound impact. Can you talk me through the sequencing of the record, Tom and indeed how you wanted the record to only contain what you felt was absolutely essential? 

TM: It required months, really — the track titles alone took several weeks of obsessive revision in order to work the way I wanted them to, to the point that it kept me up some nights. I realize that’s ridiculous, but this is what happens when I feel on the cusp of attaining a particular result. Once I was about halfway finished recording the album and had a general structure in mind, I kind of let that idea guide the subsequent compositions in certain ways to create the flow I heard in my head. As a former film student I put a great emphasis on pacing, which is something that results more from gut feeling than anything else. Each piece is loop-based but as a whole I didn’t relish the thought of repeating anything across the span of the record.

— 

pol3

My current favourite is ‘Of Everything That Rhymes’; a pristine ambient cut where an ethereal feel permeates throughout. Please discuss the instrumentation utilized here and your memories of creating this particular piece? The beautiful harmonies could trace the moonlit skies or waves of vast blue seas such is its stunning beauty. 

TM: This is one that’s mostly the result of a lucky accident — the song begins with a loop of bowed bells on tape, which I originally played in an arbitrary succession. When the loop was constructed it had this very distinct progression that I built on with voice and bowed bass, which are the main parts of the rest of the song. The bubbling guitar parts in the left and right channels are also constructed with random engagement of the loop pedal with different loop lengths, so they interact with each other uniquely on each cycle.

— 

The song-titles chosen for each of these fourteen songs feel very important and considered. The words themselves (without the accompanying music) feel like chapters to a novel – or indeed form a sonnet, so to speak – as a striking narrative is forged. I wonder was there certain inspiration drawn from the choice of these song-titles? 

TM: Like I said it took an awfully long time to reach the final sequence of song titles. Some are alliterative twins (‘As would a weaver’ and ‘That wounded weathered’) whose sounds are mirror images to me and there are some other common threads running through them that people can take to mean what they like. But the first title I had in mind was ‘The gilded fear that guides the flow’, which for me is the fear of death I experienced acutely for the first time after the passing in short succession of all my grandparents a few years ago. It was even going to be the title of the album for a while. The ‘break arch’ is part of certain kinds of clocks, which relates to my wife’s profession in horology. ‘Shut-ins on Sunday see’ refers to my grandmother watching church sermons on TV on Sunday mornings at 6am after she was no longer physically able to attend mass in-person. And so on.

— 

pol9

No digital/software manipulation was carried out on ‘Sonnet’. Please discuss the studio set-up and indeed your love and fascination with analog tape? I can imagine the recording process felt quite a liberating experience when you found yourself creating music from strictly organic means?

TM: My love of tape began with my first cassette deck at the age of 6 or 7, and my realization that you could transform any tape into a recordable one and document any sound you want. I’ve never gotten tired of the way that analog tape softens the edges of whatever you put on it, makes it warmer and friendlier to the ear. Simplifying things as I did with this record, I did feel a different part of my brain activated — a less mathematical and more emotional one, I think. I primarily used the instruments listed on the sleeve (guitar, bass, voice, bells, dulcimer, piano, and others) as well as the radio interference that occurs in my neighbourhood in the middle of the day and the four or five guitar pedals that I’ve had for about a decade now.

— 

Lawrence English mastered the new record. I wonder in what way did ‘Sonnet’ change or transform after this process? 

TM: It wasn’t a huge leap sonically but he tied everything together and created a fuller picture from the individual parts, made it a little warmer and dynamically cohesive. His ear is of course very well-tuned to organic sounds and to this type of work, so it was certainly a natural fit.

— 

Another glorious track is ‘An Image Apart From Ourselves’. I must ask what exactly is the song’s rhythmic pulse? It feels like a series of voices which takes on quite a magical quality. Again, the record is full of so many happy accidents where this spark of creativity lies at the heart of ‘Sonnet’.

TM: Yes, that was the result of the aforementioned radio interference that occurs with my tube amplifier — one afternoon it was particularly intense when I was trying to record something, so I let go of my impatience and incorporated the voices into the piece after turning up the tremolo mix all the way.

— 

The handmade edition of ‘Sonnet’ is a truly wonderful work of art in itself, Tom. Please talk me through the assembling of this special work? Also, the polaroids are sublime. Can you please discuss the correlation between photography – and the act of taking pictures – and creating music? 

TM: Thanks! The handmade packages have become a kind of ‘reward’ for me once I finish a record, like I get to put my hands to something physical to accompany the music, which is an important connection for me. This time around I thought it’d be appropriate to make something subdued to balance out the vibrant colours of the record sleeve, hence the craft-paper zine with all the liner notes and xeroxed photos.. The second disc of music (‘Stanza’) is meant to be a kind of foil to the album, in that each piece was recorded with the same instrumentation and at a temporal remove of almost a year. By the time I recorded those pieces I had moved house, turned 30 and experienced a few other significant life changes, so packaging those two recordings together was meaningful for me as a way to reconcile my current and former lives, so to speak. 

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What is next for you, Tom?

TM: I never know — I’ve got half of another record written, but my passion currently lies with extended guitar improvisatons in my living room since I’ve moved to a bigger place in the last few months. It’s a productive form of healing whatever might be getting me down, and it’s the most selfish use of music that I can think of, but that’s not a crime is it?

 


 

krank193

‘Sonnet’ is out now on Kranky.

http://pioulard.com/
http://kranky.net/

 

Written by markcarry

April 27, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Chosen One: Orcas

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Interview with Orcas.

“I usually boil it down by saying, “I write the words and the beginnings of chord structures, and Rafael makes the rest what it is.” He has such a great intuition and is a very good director when I’ve got something in mind; he knows very well how to make a given vocal line or guitar line or piano sketch fit into whatever we’re working on.”

—Thomas Meluch

Words: Mark Carry, Design: Craig Carry

orcas_poster

Orcas is the collaborative project of Thomas Meluch (Benoît Pioulard) and Rafael Anton Irisarri (The Sight Below) whose latest full-length release, entitled ‘Yearling’ — the follow-up to their sublime self-titled debut — recently saw the light of day by German independent label, Morr Music. Both artists — Benoît Pioulard’s shape-shifting hazy ambient explorations, and The Sight Below’s similarly mesmerising drone-infused electronic explorations — have been a cornerstone to all trusted independent music collections this past decade, and Orcas offers new, illuminating pathways for the pair to venture down (and audiences to gladly immerse themselves in).

On ‘Yearling’, the core duo of Meluch and Irisarri are joined by Martyn Heyne (Efterklang) on guitar and piano, and Michael Lerner (Telekinesis) on drums to build upon the shimmering ambient soundscapes of their self-titled debut, adding new layers of analog warmth to the band’s unique blend of ethereal pop creations. In contrast to the guitar improvisations and impromptu vocal sessions of the debut record, most of ‘Yearling’ was constructed from short pieces Pioulard wrote and developed while staying in Germany during the summer of 2012. Furthermore, the nuances and hidden details of Benoît Pioulard’s utterly beguiling songbook can be found interwoven in the rich tapestry of Orcas’s sonic trajectory. The album’s recording sessions took place in Heyne’s Lichte Studio in Berlin, and Irisarri’s own Black Knoll Studio back in Seattle.

Album opener ‘Petrichor’ begins with building synth passages blended with gorgeous analogue warmth, forming a beautiful ambient canvas of sound that gradually finds its way into the endearing pop gem of ‘Infinite Stillness’ (if ever a song-title embodies the music of its creator, it is this). A deeply affecting hazy pop gem radiates from the analogue foundations, as rays of light are emitted into the surrounding vast skies ahead. The pristine production and intricate arrangements of Lerner’s drums, the infectious guitar lines and Meluch’s distinctive voice forms an organic, cohesive whole of stunning beauty. Vocal duties are crossed over on ‘Half Light’, another heartfelt pop gem, packed with a seamless array of lush sonic wizardry. ‘Selah’ is a towering ambient pop instrumental cut which develops over beautifully restrained, clean guitar tones, recalling the crystalline electronic output of City Centre Offices, Morr Music and beyond.

The second half of ‘Yearling’ contain more majestic master-works, not least the hazy torch-lit ballad ‘Capillaries’ with drifting piano notes, warm guitar tones mixed with Meluch’s heartfelt lyrics, drenched in reverb and analog loveliness. An immediacy prevails on the following track, ‘An Absolute’, where glistening electric guitar passages and brooding harmonies are placed in the forefront of the mix. The album’s penultimate track, the meditative ‘Filament’ fades in slowly, constructed from an ethereal harmony sung by Meluch (reminiscent of Benoît Pioulard and indeed Kranky label-mate, Grouper). Album closer ‘Tell’ completes ‘Yearling’s illuminating journey of sublime ambient soundscapes, which effortlessly breathes vital life and meaning into the hearts of each and every fortunate recipient. The essence of Orcas is indeed, infinite stillness, sculpted by the gifted minds of its ever-evolving members.

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‘Yearling’ by Orcas is available now on Morr Music.

https://www.facebook.com/weareorcas
https://www.morrmusic.com

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Interview with Rafael Anton Irisarri (Orcas/The Sight Below) and Thomas Meluch (Orcas/Benoît Pioulard).

Congratulations on the latest Orcas album ‘Yearling’, a gorgeous and beguiling collection of dream-pop creations. Please take me back to the summer of 2012, during your stay in Germany where the seeds of the new record were sewn. I was very interested to read much of the album was constructed from short pieces Thomas Meluch had written. I would love to gain an insight into the collaborative process that developed those pieces into the fully formed hazy pop gems that comprises ‘Yearling’?

Rafael Anton Irisarri: Yep, that’s correct lots of it was written while staying in Berlin. Tom (Benoît Pioulard) moved away to England in December 2011, where he stayed for a year with his wife; while geographically separated we exchanged files and sketches throughout 2012. During summer 2012, we rented out a flat in Prenzlauer Berg, quite close to the Morr Music office actually. We toured for a bit around Europe that summer, and during the downtime, we’d always come back to Berlin. It was sort of our homebase. While in Germany, we started to work with Martyn Heyne (live member of Efterklang). He joined ORCAS playing piano and guitar live, and rehearsed with him at his Lichte Studio in Neuköln quite frequently. We clicked almost instantly, he is such an amazing person and talented musician, so as we wrapped up the touring, we stayed in touch and kept working together. Martyn recorded all his parts at his studio and would send me his files online, then I would add to the mix, send back, and so on. Over the course of the year we built on and revised those tracks into what you hear on the final record.

Thomas Meluch: Berlin was our home base, so to speak, through a period of five weeks during which we had only 7 or 8 shows booked in various cities… So there was a lot of downtime and I found myself returning to some lyric ideas and messing around on the guitar when I would have otherwise been idle or passively watching football championships. “An Absolute” appeared in a completely different version on a limited lathe-cut thing I made in 2010 or 2011, and I’d always liked the melody of that one, so I added a couple of verses and let it sit for a while. Most of the others were little kernels of ideas that didn’t really have lives at all until I returned to the states in early 2013 after spending the previous year in the UK – but having moved back to Seattle rather than Portland I’m now about a 30 minute walk from Rafael’s place and it’s much easier to work together on short notice when we both have time and energy for Orcas stuff. Once we really began the recording process in earnest, there was a good balance of pre-existing ideas and some amount of improvisation; for example “Selah” (which, I admit, is my favourite song on the album) was 90% finished after one day of work… Rafael had been experimenting with a new analog synth patch while I was on the other side of the room with a guitar, and it all fell together quite naturally by my recollection.

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The duo of yourself and Tom emits such a captivating sound, embedded in analog warmth and ethereal ambient pop soundscapes. As a listener, you really feel the aspects of each of your highly accomplished projects — Benoît Pioulard and The Sight Below — effortlessly flow into Orcas’ interwoven tapestry, but something entirely new and unknown is equally formed. Please discuss the creative process between you and Tom? I would love to learn how you first crossed paths with one another.

RAI: Back in 2009, I was co-curating a music festival here in Seattle. I invited Tom to play as Benoît Pioulard and shortly after we became friends. Tom started to come up to Seattle (he used to live in Portland) quite regularly and stayed in my house, where we would just improvise in my studio and play with different instruments and sounds. This is how the first ORCAS album came about, out of studio improvisation. As we developed our sound further, meaning by this, we originally had no concrete plans (it was more like two kindred spirits making some drone music), we started to incorporate more pop elements and shape those improvisations into songs. After working together for some time, we now know each others’ virtues and limitations, so we tend to be more focused and work more effectively. On this new album we explored some textural and drone elements – I think those are always going to be part of our sound, but at the same time, we played around and made pop music, albeit quirky pop – unconventional songs structures, disparate elements and sounds converging.

TM: I usually boil it down by saying, “I write the words and the beginnings of chord structures, and Rafael makes the rest what it is.” He has such a great intuition and is a very good director when I’ve got something in mind; he knows very well how to make a given vocal line or guitar line or piano sketch fit into whatever we’re working on, and we both respect each other so I don’t get offended when he tells me I’m fucking up or that something just isn’t going to work. There were also five or six versions of certain songs on the album – for example, “Half Light” was originally a borderline dance-pop song – so each piece is a sort of journey without an endpoint, until one appears to us.

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This time around, you are joined by Martyn Heyne (of Efterklang) on guitar and piano, and Michael Lerner (Telekinesis) on drums further heightening to the expansive and sprawling sound. I would love to gain an insight into working as a quartet this time around, was it a case of all four members being present for the duration of the recording sessions? I can imagine Martyn’s Lichte Studio must have been a wonderful place to capture the spark of these special songs? How long did the recording sessions take?

RAI: No, unfortunately we were never on the same room at the same time. In fact, it’s quite amazing Michael and Martyn have never met. Somehow, through music, they got to “know” each other and communicate in a way that feels as if they’ve been friends forever. I find this quite beautiful – music truly transcends time and place. We did things quite backwards out of necessity – we tracked Michael’s drums on top of Martyn’s parts, as opposed to the traditional way of laying down drum tracks first and then everyone play on top.
That said, both of their studios (Martyn’s & Michael’s) are absolutely amazing, awe-inspiring places. Overall I had a great time making this record and working with both. I can only hope we get to play these songs live as a quartet, as I love those guys and will be so lovely to spend some time traveling with them.

TM: Michael and Martyn are both totally humbling in their level of skill – they’re technically trained (which I’m not) but also incredibly intuitive players… Rafael likes to joke about the fact that we sometimes make Martyn play a 3- or 4-note piano part when we know he could rattle off some Bach or Beethoven flawlessly off the top of his head. Neither of them worked with us in the studio, but Raf did go out to West Seattle to record drums in Michael’s home studio, in-person. Martyn’s parts were recorded remotely in Berlin and shuttled around on Dropbox, as you do these days.

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‘An Absolute’ is my current favourite. I love how Tom’s alluring voice breathes such emotion into the song’s trajectory. The layers of piano, guitar and drums blend together so effortlessly that forms the perfect backdrop to such a beautiful lament. Can you talk me through the construction of this song please?

RAI: Thank you. I like this one very much too. This song was one Tom wrote back in Berlin. When he returned to Seattle, I did the initial arrangement in my studio and demo it. I sent the demo to Martyn and he learned the acoustic guitar parts, plus added piano to it. The most amazing part for me is the vocals – the one you hear is the original takes from the demo. I thought it was a great take, so I never re-tracked it. Same with the bass parts – Tom actually tracked that at like 8 am in the morning in my studio, almost half-awake. The “morricone” guitar riff is my favorite element. I recorded Tom playing it on my precious Guild Starfire III — it’s got a huge bigsby vibrato tailpiece. As he was playing it, I kept pressing it at certain parts, thus making the arrangement extra spaghetti-westernish. There’s also a hidden layer of guitar I played thru my tape echo – a melodic Telecaster line that only comes up on certain parts – you can hear me hitting the space echo hard though. The “organ” I constructed in Max For Live from a micro-cassette sample Tom brought in. I used those “chord hit” of 80’s Mexican soap-operas as an inspiration for it, and built a very tense layer. Afterwards, we’ve affectionately refer to this instrument as “mexican soap.” I always come up with very silly names for all my patches and instruments – it’s easier to remember for me.

TM: Like I said before, I wrote a 90-second version of that song with acoustic guitar and voice a few years ago, and felt a different version would be something to pursue for this project… In beginning the second version I slowed the tempo, switched from strumming to fingerpicking and added a few more lines to the vocal part. After that, Raf and I sketched it out, recorded the basic elements and Martyn filled in all the gaps – it was one of the easier songs on the album, in terms of arrangement and execution, though I know Raf agonized over the mix for months, as he’s prone to doing.

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Were there certain avenues you all wanted to explore on ‘Yearling’ from the outset, Rafael? It’s a lovely progression on from the equally majestic self-titled debut full-length as you continue to explore new sonic terrain.

RAI: Yeah, I’m a sucker for great pop music (Talk Talk, Kate Bush, Tears For Fears), and this album became my creative outlet for those sensibilities to come out. Having access to Tom’s unique voice is a blessing. I can’t sing to save my own life, so it’s nice to work with someone who can and also is such an amazing songwriter when it comes to lyrics. Working with people like Martyn & Michael really inspired me a lot too. It really challenged me to be a better producer and be at their musical level. I finally got to use every piece of equipment in my studio, something I haven’t really done on my own solo releases, as the production tends to very focused on one particular sound. If anything, I learned a lot making this record, something in the end I appreciate the most: learning and growing.

TM: Not really; one of the loveliest things about this project for me is that I never know what to expect, and as I mentioned we have a good amount of mutual respect that makes working together pretty harmonious most of the time. Some days we’ll go into the studio with a defined idea of what needs to be done, and others will find us improvising around the littlest ghost of inspiration. “Tell”, for example, is an extensively manipulated tape recording of a guitar loop piece I made in June or July of last year, which Raf turned into something much greater than I could have done on my own.

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Will there be a European tour for Orcas planned for 2014?

TM: We’re not sure yet; we’ve talked about it but can’t say with any certainty… I’d definitely love to make it happen but Raf is much more perfectionistic about live stuff than I am and a lot of details would have to be set in order for it to happen, not to mention the logistics of rehearsal with a third member who’s halfway around the world.

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Since the last time we spoke, your incredible (and latest Benoît Pioulard full-length) ‘Hymnal’ album was released in a special new edition with many fascinating remixes of the original songs. Can you talk me through those remixes please and what it must feel to listen to other people’s interpretations of your own songs? It must have been a special project to be part of, particularly when new perspectives are given to your artistic works. 

TM: That was totally the idea of my friend and colleague Ryan at Lost Tribe Sound… He’s been wanting to work together for a long while and when he conceived of the remix album idea it was pretty perfect timing, and as well he knows a lot of musicians that I admire and was able to curry enough favour with them to make it happen. The Remote Viewer, for example, has been one of my favorite groups for 10 or so years, so getting a remix from them was truly a thrill… As for the rest, I am totally amazed at the directions that people took with the source material, and as someone who’s never been a huge fan of remix albums, I’m surprised and pleased at how well this one hangs together.

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Any current reading/listening/film recommendations, Tom? 

TM: My favourite film of last year was the documentary “Leviathan”, which I’ve now watched at least three times. So beautiful and so profoundly simple. Music-wise, I remain totally obsessed with my friend Kyle Bobby Dunn, whose new triple LP is his best yet – and I feel that’s saying something. I am happy to say that he & I also just finished an album together after 18 months of file exchanges; I can’t say much more than that about it at the moment, though.

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‘Yearling’ by Orcas is available now on Morr Music.

https://www.facebook.com/weareorcas
https://www.morrmusic.com

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Written by admin

July 1, 2014 at 10:47 am

Mixtape: In Praise Of Tears (A Mixtape By Benoît Pioulard)

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benoitpioulardmix_front

To listen on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/fractured_air/sets/in-praise-of-tears-a-mixtape

Compiled by Thomas Meluch (aka Benoît Pioulard), “In Praise Of Tears” features a mostly vinyl-only mix featuring a selection of ten tracks culled from Tom’s record collection. In the words of Tom: “I ended up with the afternoon off the other day, so I made up a whiskey soda and got to mixing this thing of mostly-vinyl-only bits for you..hope it suits your fancy..” Benoît Pioulard’s latest album, ‘Hymnal’, is available now on the Chicago-based independent label Kranky.

Tracklist:

01. The Remote Viewer / Untitled #9 (from ‘Untitled’ LP)
02. Nat King Cole / Calypso Blues (from ‘Calypso Blues/Lost April’ single)
03. Bibio / Bequeath (from ‘A Tout a L’heure’ 7″)
04. Kyle Bobby Dunn / In Praise of Tears (from ‘In Miserum Stercus’ LP)
05. The Fleetwoods / Truly Do (from ‘Greatest Hits’ LP)
06. Valet / Beachgaze Rendered (from ‘Fire’ 7″)
07. Grouper / Everyone in Turn (from ‘Tried’ 7″)
08. The Castells / So This is Love (from ‘So This is Love/On the Street of Tears’ single)
09. Loscil / Unit Circle (from ‘Sine Studies’ 7″)
10. Windy & Carl / The White Birch (from ‘Windy & Carl’ 12″ EP)

To listen on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/fractured_air/sets/in-praise-of-tears-a-mixtape

Fractured Air 09. The universe is making music all the time.

The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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‘Hymnal’ by Benoît Pioulard is out now on Kranky.

http://pioulard.com
soundcloud.com/pioulard
http://www.kranky.net

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To read the other articles featuring contributions by Benoît Pioulard, please see here, here and here

To follow Fractured Air, you can do so on Facebook here, and on Twitter here.

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banjo + baxter + 45s

“banjo + baxter + 45s” by Thomas Meluch.

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Written by admin

October 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm