Benoît Pioulard

Lignin Poise

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Similar to releases like Noyaux and Sonnet (both from 2015), Lignin Poise represents Benoît Pioulard's ambient side rather than his material that could be described as folk or shoegaze. Of course, nearly all of his work combines drones, melodies, and soft, fuzzy textures in one way or another, but this one eschews lyrics and chiming acoustic guitars in favor of rolling drone loops. Guitars and vocals are present, however, but they're treated and tape-saturated until they melt into something beyond their original forms. The result is seven tracks that hazily drift above the listener's head, gently repeating smudgy melodic phrases with subtle tweaks and embellishments. While the first and last tracks are on the longer side (eight and ten minutes, respectively), Pioulard's pop instincts kick in and he knows when to put a cap on the other ones. All of them could continue for 45 minutes without the listener minding, though, as they're all supremely relaxing and engrossing. A slight hint of ghostly singing turns "Vesperal" into a lonely, haunting hiss-scape worthy of early His Name Is Alive. It only exists for two minutes, which seems almost cruel, but it might get too chilling if allowed to exist for much longer. Some tracks conjure up the sort of spooky elegance that made Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works, Vol. II so special, particularly "Same Time Next Year" and "On Form," which has an odd, detached countermelody scraping away underneath. While most of the tracks have a pronounced fade-out ending, the ten-minute title track ends the album with an abrupt cut, as if the tape ran out, giving a slightly jarring conclusion to this blissful ride. Lignin Poise was initially released as a limited tour-only CD-R before being pressed to vinyl, and while it's easy to think of it as being somewhat more low-key than Pioulard's Kranky full-lengths, it's entirely worthwhile.

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