Review

Benoit Pioulard

Hymnal

Kranky • 2013

For ten years, the North American musician Thomas Meluch a.k.a.Benoît Pioulard has been making music that sounds like the soundtrack of a movie yet to be made. If those films were ever actually produced, they surely wouldn’t have a happy ending, and there wouldn’t be much to laugh about, either. Benoît Pioulard’s music celebrates the darkness of life. That is why his new record »Hymnal« is nothing to be listened to on the side. Pioulard’s warm voice mumbles in an almost prayer-like manner on top of seemingly threatening Lo-Fi-arrangements made of sounds from guitars, a piano and even an organ. Before you’ll begin to understand Pioulard’s sounds, you’ll start to feel them. »Hymnal« evokes pictures of loneliness, of misty fog, and especially of inevitable darkness. Tracks like »Reliquary« or »Foxtail« make you feel like there is a dark abyss lingering behind every detail, while somehow providing a sentiment of safety. It’s an antagonism that Pioulard has perfected with this record. In order to really feel the effect of the album, you should do Mr. Pioulard the favor of listening to it as a whole. Because only then tracks like »Gospel« actually make sense – it’s the record’s outstanding centerpiece. Its six minutes and 13 seconds are heavy, blustering and incredibly challenging, but they explain everything that comes before and after them. All these features make»Hymnal« an impressive concept-album.

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