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Benoit Pioulard: Hymnal

Kranky

For his work as Benoît Pioulard, Michigan-based artist Thomas Meluch dwells in a hazy gray area between folk and ambient music, an intersection crowded by smoked-out players harping on the same chord without direction. Meluch layers his carefully composed melodies, dusty acoustic guitar tones, and fills of drone and ambiance, aiming for modest pop songs blurred by shadowy static. Hymnal finds Meluch carefully refining his technique so subtly that it's nearly impossible to notice. The changes are revealed with the production on "Margin" and "Hawkeye," with underlying bobs of echo and reverb tastefully rounding out each song's presence. Meluch upped his drone game as well, with tracks like "Censer" and "Knell" wading through a sullen tide of harmonic texture. (3 out of 5 stars)