Thursday, April 7, 2016

Recording: Benoît Pioulard

Artist: Benoît Pioulard

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Array Space (Wavelength 696: Don't Speak), March 25, 2016.

Benoît Pioulard - unknown

An interesting, if not completely successful, experiment socially-engineered by WL's Adam Bradley, this performance came with a prohibition against verbal communication not only during but in between the evening's sets. While that's appreciated as a means of enjoying the music without interruption, it actually felt rather oppressive when the musicians weren't playing — and, truth be told, rather than trying to muck about with the supplied cards and pencils for written communication, I simply withdrew into the company of my phone and felt rather isolated in a way that I could be any time at home. Far more discomfiting was the decision to not offer chairs, leaving a room of people milling about on their feet while absorbing some slowly-unfurling ambient music. I guess from my perspective, the thing that threw me off the most about this gig is that I find myself hanging out at Array Space fairly often, and to me it's the sort of place where no top-down rules are required to enjoy music in comfort and silence — adding the formal gimmick was just too much inorganic chemistry.

Seattle-based Thomas Meluch has been making music as Benoît Pioulard for more than a decade, including several releases on the esteemed Kranky label. His self-described lo-fi folk emerges both musically and visually as abstract ambiance, evoking hazy memories and half-submerged emotions. Employing bowed guitar and layers of loops, he seemed quite content to let his projections be the main visual focus during his set, performing while facing away from the crowd, and often kneeling on the floor. Egoless but rather absorbing stuff.

* The set was played as a continuous performance, but there were definite sections within that – I don't know of any of those count as formally-titled pieces. Please leave a comment if you can nail down a title for this!

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