The first thing that becomes audible is a train. Steam then fills your line of sight and the bumpy rail can be heard as the wheels of the vehicle trudge along in the distance. Stop! Just daze out for a moment. The train approaches and without question you step on. As it leaves the abandoned station everything begins to feel unfamiliar. The sounds and images you have correlated with this train now feel totally estranged. Everything feels like a new take on prior experiences. Everything becomes hypnagogic; never does it feel unnatural. You are in locomotion, full speed forward in thought and in life.
Searching for the proper words to emphasize the depth of creativity displayed on the album “Lasted” by Benoît Pioulard has proven to be a challenging task. This album somehow seems to come across as both understated and engaging in a strange ambient sort of way. Field recording techniques form the basis of the atmosphere and when it is combined with electronic drum arrangements it comes across as surreal. So maybe the best way to describe “Lasted” is surreal. The thing about “Lasted” is that creativity and ingenuity are the soul of the album. Aside from that, it is mood music. It is an artistic display that delves heavily into one field of emotions and overall theme. It refuses to change its course. It never becomes pretentious by laying something on too thick and it never creates a ploy that would allow the listener to write it off entirely. This does not mean that it is going to be a widely accessible album by any means, it absolutely appeals to a niche of listeners and this niche is more than likely not a large one.
The sound Thomas Meluch (the man behind the Benoît Pioulard mask) creates is troublesome to pin down acutely. Simply put, his voice is unique. His tone is somber, almost harrowing at times but not blatantly such. His voice is also soft and low in range. The quiet of his voice does not however cause it to lack fullness. Vocal melodies throughout the album seem to drift along, phasing between predominance in the sense of leading the music along and an alternative approach that seems to be for the benefit of the music’s cohesion. In terms of emotional delivery the vocals are puzzling and the instrumentals are exact. Part of the music allows you to understand what is intended while the other half leaves you unsure. The rhythmic fluidity of the music holds everything in its rightful place and leaves plenty of room for the unforeseen. The variance between finger picking guitar parts and softly strummed chord progressions allows for a break when one or the other begins to become tiresome. The addition of pads and other such ambient effects also help to capture the mood and surely do not impact it negatively.
Although this release is filled with strong suites it holds its share of unfavorable aspects. At times the percussive elements can become slightly overbearing. Annoying string pops and strange little rhythmic instruments sound blocky and overall can become a nuisance to the ears. Another problem with the music involves the melodic nature of segments of the music. Sometime it seems distinguished melodies are abandoned early in the song and exchanged for subpar uninteresting arrangements. This can become slightly off putting at times. Luckily songs like “A Coin on the Tongue” and “Shouting Distance” remain true to the originally established spirit and do not disappoint. All in all “Lasted” mildly suffers from forgetting to balance and overdoing.
The music is not apt to look back; it dwells on what it is and what it is going to be. This is arguably the theme of “Lasted”. The genuine statement it makes is relative to life as if to say we have lasted (as a species and more so as individuals) because we do not look back. The most thrilling and unimaginable moments of our lives are those in which we know not what to expect and then it just hits, we shake it off and keep going, returning to a state of equilibrium. “Lasted” echoes this in spirit and in music. It is not flawless; it is just exceptionally creative and humanistic. It portrays an image that had not been framed correctly and places it's own title on it. Because of this Benoît Pioulard’s “Lasted” is remarkable.