Benoît Pioulard - Lasted (Kranky)

The technological revolution is distributing as many misguided misses as it does hits.

Released Jan 5th, 2011 via Kranky / By Samuel Breen
Benoît Pioulard - Lasted (Kranky) Technology is driving singer songwriters in to this technological rut. Add a couple of gadgets here, a music program there and before too long you’ve got a sound that resembles full bodied orchestration (with occasional ‘kooky’ techniques) surrounding the basic format of chord chord-chord-verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus. Benoît Pioulard’s latest record is, to use a crude advertising term, all sizzle and no sausage.

Not only does Pioulard share a French sounding name with Bon Iver but also an outlook. A constant drive for sweeping emotive melodies on hazy canvas. What contrasts them is that Pioulard adopts a metropolitan landscape. The album opens with a train carriage rattling and throughout the record there’s an added layer with industrial sounding pulses, synthetic dust, nasty digital vocals. Least to say, the result is a long way off Sylvain Chevaux.

Additionally the lyrics are off. “Finding analogue in a volume” opening Lasted are nonsensical. Just nice isn’t it? Are we meant to believe that the driving melodic narrative is in truth a collagist construct whereby Pioulard draws nuggets of sound and verse pieces them together then plonks them behind layers of tacky digital distortion?

It must be me but the wave of these musicians that have arrived since Sigur Rós exploded has left a wealth of contemporary troubadours attempting electronic music. To some extent they are pioneers, from another angle they are naive. Needless to say, eventually they will catch up with progressive electronic ideas. At some point they will discard their 8-track digital recorder reverb. They will see these technologies for the cheap, valueless entities that they are. They will begin to appropriate their style from artists and not b-rate guitar pedals.

Occasionally the album does break through these trappings. Bookended by ambient clouds of noise the record constantly strives to venture into this wholesale electronic territory with a complete aesthetic narrative. There are moments where Pioulard is more reserved with the lame tech to let his songcraft bloom. The opening moments of 'RTO' are a fine example of what can be accomplished with clean(er) production values. Unfortunately this sweet moment is eventually interrupted by a galloping rhythm - once again Pioulard puts the cart before the horse.

At worst the record is overly complicated procrastinations of an unimaginative button tapper feigning musicianship. At best it is the trials and tribulations of a pure musician maligned by the zeitgeist trying desperately to introduce his music to a more contemporary dialogue. As a French teacher told me on several occasion, "too many basic mistakes".