‘Listening Matter’ is like a diary, the sung vocals splashing the air like dark ink over a white page. These songs (accounts) recite tiring times in the life of Thomas Meluch. Surviving the disappearance of the sun and the primary source of radiant light, Listening Matter is able to inscribe a message of optimism and prevailing patience. Recorded during a period of grief, turmoil and self-medication, it’s tender to the touch, but it’s recovering.
Pain’s channeled in a positive way here; it’s used as artistic fuel, descending like an anchor into the deep-sea altitudes of the heart so that it can stay strong and resolute. The music comes out all the stronger for the trauma and the strife; this is growth through hardship, and from that growth springs a healing flower. The mind refocuses, the soul recharges, and when you take a step back, those difficulties only make you more aware and appreciative of the good times.
Opening with an innocent and slightly naive spray of golden ambience, the music’s brought down to earth with the entrance of Meluch’s honest and personal songwriting. Demons run amok inside the dark space of ‘Narcologue’, gripping the shoulders tightly as the strummed, fatigued chords trundle through a thick, tempo-tying mud. The sun’s light has been well and truly eclipsed by an overcast sky, and it threatens to turn the star into a pile of disintegrating ash.
Benoît Pioulard continues in a similar vein to 2015’s Sonnet, where more defined pop structures come into focus. Forlorn and slightly hazy lyrics wait patiently for the sun’s return, and ‘Layette’ nourishes this hope with a brighter, washed-out progression. The guitar’s brighter here, but it’s also a fragile recovery. ‘I Walked Into The Blackness And Built A Fire’ is on the verge of disintegrating, its crackling, sun-flecked vibes quivering in a faint wake due to the reverb and tremolo, but it stays resolute, building a brave fire in the midnight hour. The melody’s coated in a dull, distorted bronze that’s lost its glowing sheen. Rain has left a damp in the air, but it’s also refreshed and cleansed it, and it hasn’t extinguished the fire completely. The pale colour sits neutrally, halfway between optimism, seclusion and absolution.
‘Like There’s Nothing Under You’ picks up the speed and the shattered shards of optimism. The songs are natural, free, a glorious releasing of something that’s been a burden. Nothing else matters here – everything is compact and everything is alright. The string noise resembles the sound of an imperfect world, but that’s more than alright. The music acts as a three-dimensional sphere, examining the self from all possible angles. The vocals are reassuring because they can still see the truth for what it is: that this is only a transient moment, and it won’t last forever. Only one man can walk through and experience an emotional labyrinth; to anyone else, it’s like trying to read a set of Egyptian hieroglyphics, in that these inscriptions can only be read and understood by the beholder. Music is a medicinal narcotic, and while it’s said that time is a great healer (which isn’t always true), we know for a fact that music is a healer, and the process of making music – of creating art – can come as a relief and an outlet at such a time.