Review: Benoît Pioulard — ‘Slow spark, soft spoke’

Thomas Meluch’s earliest music threaded sun-bleached pop fragments into gentle, explorative ambience. Meluch, who performs as Benoît Pioulard, has lately played patient spider, fixed in a web of silken ambient drones. He seems totally content to stay as this curious time has yielded several gorgeously placid albums while furthering his appetite to inspect all vibrations felt on his current strand.

On Slow spark, soft spoke (cassette currently sold out through the Belgian label Dauw Records but available on Bandcamp) Meluch smears time into a blur of seamless memories as he scripts the past, present, and future. His omnipresent control flickers on all four tracks. ‘Compound, echo’ is a glint of warm tape feedback, but I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly how Meluch crafts such densely, textural sounds. The cyclical ebb and flow touches and lifts in patterns recognizable, yet fleeting as each tone cascades into the next before stretching out the previous. “Never, just as you wanted’ grasps similar, but with brighter pitch and thicker haze. Early moments mimic a rainstorm and the splashing whispers future emigrating as the increasingly wetness puddles with frequency. Streaks of moisture collect in the liminal space.

Side B feels dream induced. ‘Velha, nacre’ sponges the previous streaks, but sharpens and collects mists of melody as the looping etches around the same corners but in a different dwelling. Meluch seems forced to spin another nearby web to avoid collapse. By doing so, he traps innumerable echoes and deep tones to project a serene spot for all life to meet.

The final and title track, sounds questioning as it morphs around its shape. Similar to Side A, but fulfilling a darker drift, “Slow spark, soft spoke” leaves the listener in an unsettling space. Meluch shifts from routine web to sacred as the cosmic graininess of one memory calls out for a willing vessel. The end exposes a static flubbing, suggesting the spider dangles and lands perhaps in a nearby stream, searching desperately to find that missing piece (peace).

(Check out ‘Slow spark, soft spoke below via Bandcamp and get more info about the band on Facebook HERE.)

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