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Music Reviews

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Sub Pop
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Benoît Pioulard

Rating: 9/10 ?

November 30, 2006
Time to clear up a few things:

1. It's pronounced Ben-wah Pyo-lar and, in case you didn't get the memo, Sufjan = Soof-Yon. I only mention this because it is terribly annoying to hear people ramble on about "Soof-Jon" and/or "Soo-Fawn" and it will be doubly tiring to hear "Ben-Oyt" or however people will mispronounce it.

2. If you haven't read Josh Zanger's interview with ol' Benoît you should. Here is a link

3. Pitchfork's review of this album is so far off the mark that it only serves to reinforce the notion that Pitchfork has become the equivalent of People Magazine for the hip set; more tabloid than journal, more blathering egotism than banner journalism.

For weeks now LAS Freebie guru, Josh Zanger, has been pestering me about listening to a disc by some French guy. I finally gave it a listen and all I've got to say is that bastard Zanger was right, Precis is an amazing album. Also, Benoît Pioulard isn't French at all and is, in fact, from Michigan. Benoît's real name is Thomas Meluch and, at the barely legal age of 22, appears to be some kind of wunderkind. A debut of this caliber is rare and most definitely worthy of all the hype.

Precis is the kind of densely layered album that expands with an increase in volume similar to works by My Bloody Valentine and M83. Meluch also muffles his vocals somewhat, creating a soothing effect that more than makes up for any vocal or lyrical shortcomings here. All this discussion of layering and distortion might lead one to assume that Precis is somehow inorganic. That assumption is wrong. The electronic elements have the effect of submersing the listener in a warm sonic bath that the acoustic guitar phrases float upon.

Highlights of Benoît's debut include: "Ash Into The Sky" which is reminiscent of classic Echo & The Bunnymen and "Alan and Dawn" a dark folk song with a mournful vocal. The strumming march of "Palimend" buries some loops deep into the mix that seem almost to be ghostly moans. The album is also interlaced with gorgeous electronic/instrumental gems like the Boards of Canada influenced "Moth Wings".

Benoît Pioulard is not to be missed. No matter what some pop sites might say. I've heard the new Califone, and it's good, but it is nowhere near the gorgeous layered quality of Precis. The definition of a "précis" is a short summary of a work. If this album is a short summation of what Benoît Pioulard is capable of, I think that Pitchfork will soon be rethinking their dismissive attitude toward certainly one of the best and most interesting artists to emerge in 2006.

Reviewed by Jon Burke
A contributing writer and a Chicago resident who will not be goaded by LAS’s editor into revealing any more details about his potentially sordid affairs.

See other reviews by Jon Burke



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