In addition to having some of the most gorgeous artwork of any album released this year, Benoit Pioulard's excellent Precis marks the young artist as someone to definitely keep an eye out for in the future. Following a batch of limited handmade cassettes and CDRs created mainly for friends over the past couple of years, Pioulard (who's real name is actually Thomas Meluch) dipped his toes into the water with the release of his Enge EP and inclusion on last years Ghostly International compilation Idol Tryouts Two.
Precis is one of those albums that might have seemed out of place on Kranky Records a couple years back, but after releasing two records by Out Hud, it seems that anything is possible. Pioulard isn't exactly dancey, but his programming cracks in places and his melodies are downright poppy in others, leading into an album that has completely stuck in my head over the course of late summer and early fall. With a heavy emphasis on texture and melody, it's an album marked by decay, and tracks like "Together & Down" make that abundantly clear with ultra-hazy guitar layers, chimes, and breathy vocals coated in enough reverb and delay that they become yet another fuzzy element in the mix.
"Ext. Leslie Park" works in similar ways, but throws enough melodic curveballs out to keep things very interesting as clattering beats rumble in the background and wheezing accordion mingle with both acoustic guitar and droning electric while Meluch adds some curling sing-song vocals. "Triggering Back" is a study in dynamics as quiet, acoustic guitar driven sections give way to wall-of-sound production including sparkling filtered bells, programmed beats, and more breathy vocals.
Musically, the release has several things in common with last years self-titled release by Songs Of Green Pheasant. There's a similar dreamy atmosphere, nostalgia, and even connection with the countryside as acoustic guitars lead the way along with dreamy vocals while other elements all sort of swirl around in unique ways. On Precis, fifteen tracks are split nicely between more filled-out songs like "Needle & Thread" and shorter, more atmospheric instrumentals like "Coupe De Foudre," where filtered bells and low-end electrical bursts create dense soundscapes that manage to fill in the gaps between more heady pop structures. Clocking in at under forty minutes in running length, Precis is a very solid debut album from an artist who's obviously been honing his craft for awhile. Here's hoping for even more in the future.