Benoit Pioulard

Sonnet

Sonnet gleams in its ambient purity, a glistening gem that can only be found in a glowing, palm-tree paradise. Wherever you go, and wherever you play it, Sonnet sings sweetly of warm days ahead; of a clammy climate and perfect t-shirt weather. The temperature may take at the very least a couple of days to get used to, but it’s a beautiful place to be, and the listener acclimatizes quickly. Dripping with warmth, the music quickly settles into its natural, ambient rhythm. A light crackle is joined by a smooth hiss, and a colourful progression soon splashes against the two unobtrusive elements. The tranquil music is soaked in Florida heat, and its humid harmony is as ripe and as juicy as the fruit you’d find in Orange County. They chime sweetly and naturally. An aurora of white heat surrounds every thin layer, every cosy tone, and a deeper, bass-driven drone provides some substance, acting as an anchor in an attempt to tie the airy drones down.

Benoit Pioulard’s fifth full length album is incredibly lush, with a temperature that piques in late July. ‘Of Everything That Rhymes’ colours the evening air with a fabulous, iridescent sunset that glows long after the orange orb has vanished. The electrical buzz of a jack being plugged in and the subsequent, lo-fi melody shimmers against its own brittle decay, creating ripples in the tone that can never be ironed out. There aren’t any digital after-effects – everything in Sonnet comes from analogue tape and a couple of guitar pedals. There’s an amazing amount of colour injected into the music; it just proves that you don’t need any additional software. In fact, by keeping the set-up relatively simple, Pioulard makes sure that the music has the necessary space and the environment it needs in order to grow. It never gets bogged down with edits and computerized effects – it’s more about the notes, the harmonies, that are already there than any kind of post-processing or reshaping.

The foundation for Sonnet lies in a series of field recordings, what Thomas Meluch (Benoit Pioulard) calls “unintentional harmonies”. Locust drones and industrial air conditioners are imagined on the guitar. They turn into loops and then mature into golden pieces of sound. Echoes of song and sung lyrics try to pierce through the thick ambient coating, but they never break through. The voice is half-buried in the harmony, permanently cocooned. Sometimes, as on ‘Whose Palms Create’, a little tension creeps into the music. The spooky, shady stanzas hint at something else that hides just beyond the safety of the music, something that nests halfway between the lines. The flickering, experimental ‘So Etched In Memory’ is on the verge of decaying, coughing up its gravelly tone. And the lilting, gentle progression of ‘Upon The Break Arch’ makes for a truly sublime piece of music. The breezy, light noise flits in and out, rattling in the face of the wind like a scarecrow in a lonely field. Little, loved loops and phrases come to life as the tracks bleed into one another. Sonnet feels like a cleansing, an artistic renewal of the cycle for both the musician and the music. It’s instantly fresh, rising up from the music in a clear, steamy vapour. When it comes to ambient music, Sonnet is one of the highest peaks.

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