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Album Review

Superficial as it can be to judge an album by its artwork, the shimmer and shadow on the cover of Benoît Pioulard's first full-length (and Kranky debut), Précis, aptly depicts the music inside. Like the Enge EP, this is an album full of gorgeous dream pop crossed with laptop electronics (and sometimes, vice versa) that showcases Pioulard's sweet, somewhat drowsy vocals and versatile acoustic guitar playing. However, Précis goes far beyond the EP's scope, embellishing his music with sparkling yet subtle layers of percussion and sound effects that give these songs a dreamy depth. Roughly half of the album consists of delicately crafted songs that are accessible, but never predictable. Précis' melodies are just as creative, and even more memorable, than the textures around them: "Ext. Leslie Park" glides along on a beautifully melancholy, descending melody that's twinned in Pioulard's vocals and guitar, while the fantastic album closer, "Ash into the Sky," is lilting, seemingly effortless, and appropriately weightless. And, while "Triggering Back," "Sous la Plage," and "Together & Down" are all tightly structured songs, they never feel constrained; while they're undeniably catchy, they still have enough mystery and atmosphere to keep listeners guessing. The rest of Précis delves deeper into the abstract, atmospheric side of Pioulard's music, offering up interludes that sound like they were sculpted out of breezes. "Coup de Foudre" builds a vignette out of the static buzz of plugging in an electric guitar and layers on wind chime-like electronics and gentle noise; "Moth Wings" flutters by on echoing pianos; and "Corpus Chant" boasts a harpsichord and a sound effect that sounds like a ball rolling across the floor. These sketches are organic, restful, and integral to Précis, giving some breathing room between the more song-based tracks — it would almost be too much if everything here was as powerful as the most accessible moments. Précis is a remarkably concise album — over the course of 37 minutes, Pioulard covers an impressive range of sounds and feelings. More importantly, though, it's also a remarkably accomplished debut: hazy without disappearing into the background, immediately captivating but still full of things to discover on later listens.

Customer Reviews

The Best Record of 2006

This is simply the voice and sound of the your future. After producing beautiful music on compilations and EPs for Ghostly and Moodgadget, Benoit Pioulard has really made a profound statment with his first LP with Kranky. The vocals are somehow haunting and absolutely comforting/filled with love at the same time. Tom Meluch's voice may bring to mind Elliott Smith or Eric Matthews, but his tone and inflection seperate him from the pack (i.e. when he sings "too many little sweetnesses" on Palimend). Sonically, this records sounds big and small at the same time. The sound is layered, and the melodies weave and bob like Sugar Ray Leonard tiring out Roberto Duran. But, this music sounds quiet, even when your stereo is on 11...which is a quality many of us love about Nick Drake and Tim Buckley. The music sometimes reminds me of early - Boo Radleys or early - Pale Saints, but at the end of the day Benoit Pioulard's music is very much his own. Let's hope that this is the first of many, many LPs to come!

I could die listening to this album

I never feel inspired to write reviews on iTunes but I'm a music critic in NY and this is truly one of the most beautiful albums I've ever heard. When getting bombarded with album after album they begin to blend. This stands out as a true original, beautifully and brilliantly composed. Whenever I put this album on at my cafe I manage everyone asks who it is, I've probably sold a hundred albums just from playing it at work.

Layers, layers and more layers

Seriously, the most shallow person you know will have a surprising amount of depth after listening to this album. As amazing as the lyrics are, the music will tell you things about yourself you never knew!


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Multi-instrumentalist/writer Thomas Meluch -- who uses Benoît Pioulard as one of his musical alter egos -- combines found sounds, electronics, and atmospheric rock and pop in his various projects. A part of the Rattling Wall Collective in Dutch, a loose-knit group of like-minded musicians, Meluch also collaborated on a multimedia piece for the University of Michigan's 2003 Film and Video Studies Association Lightworks Festival. He played with half a dozen bands in the area, including Esmae, an experimental...
Full Bio
Précis, Benoît Pioulard
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Customer Ratings