Benoit Pioulard and Sean Curtis Patrick | Avocationals
Beacon Sound (LP/DL)
Released by PDX’s Beacon Sound in an edition of 500 just five days ago and already sold out (though Forced Exposure may still have you covered). This is the very first collaboration between Seattleite Thomas Meluch (aka Benoit Pioulard) and Sean Curtis Patrick, based in Ann Arbor. The theme is a homage to sunken sea craft lost in the Great Lakes (Zenava, Marlen, Eaglescliffe, etc.), and it opens with a melancholy drone that seemingly puts you somehow in a foggy setting, fueled by bellowing drone and drifting harmony. It reminds me of one of those somber military salutes to the fallen, the tones are airy and down low.
Fluttering synths are awash amid tape decks and guitars and processing thereof. The pieces flow into one another, and the mood is rather sedate. They prevent a bit of nodding into the subconscious with just the right amount of minor distortion and gravelly static, though even with these idiosyncrasies the Avocationals come off mostly quite warm, like an early morning light peeking through the neighbors rooftop.
Parts here reminded me some of the work of Vancouver’s Loscil or Italian sound artist/producer Alessandro Tedeschi (as Netherworld). Yet the two have an extremely refined production for their first time out together, this sounds way beyond their time. This could be the best headphone set of 2019 thusfar, but even as broadcast through a medium sized studio it engages, or maybe tickles, the senses in the way one is grazed by passing insect life in a small herb garden (or maybe I’m just recalling this morning’s weeding and watering chores). Alas, without regressing, Pioulard and Patrick have mined the most lucid part of my psyche with this release, and it feels subliminal. If you don’t believe me simply spin the single track Nordmeer and try not to fall victim to the luminous seduction of it all.
The overall impact of their fusion reveals itself slowly, comes off serious (yet emotional) and includes a dose of stringed noodling for measure to taste (Leadale). For these vintage ears it’s likely the only sidestep here, as their looping backward takes effect so does the already constructed atmosphere. Though the final two tracks become something of a retraction, heading out to the open waters, hailing its future return with a bright, siren-like repeating rhythm.The final minutes are like mirroring the moving reflection of the waters decks and depths below, like a sonic lapping within your brainwaves. Essential.