Melodium: Anaemia
Audio Dregs

Having released three albums on Italian and French labels between 2001 and 2003, Nantes-based Laurent Girard (aka Melodium) now makes his Audio Dregs debut with twelve richly cinematic instrumentals on Anaemia. In spite of his training as a classical pianist, Girard features piano to a modest degree, opting primarily for electronics and synths to construct his dense through-composed soundscapes. The album pairs seven short vignettes with four more fully-developed pieces and an epic, thirteen-minute closer. Bringing structural contrast to the album, the shorter pieces often work well (the brief overture “Reality Is Decaying”) but, in some cases, are too fleeting (like the otherwise charmingly buoyant “Residual Song”). By length and construction, “Composé Organique Volatil II” is the album's focal point, even if it arrives at album's end. Unfurling through multiple episodes, it opens with a muffled classical theme (calling to mind Philip Glass's Glassworks) placed within an exotic field of twitter and croaks, as if Girard is aurally conjuring a nocturnal pond; eventually a blurry piano, joined in counterpoint by a faint synth, appears to voice the melancholy theme. The sombre mood prevails through subsequent episodes of industrial patterns and ghostly melodies.

That Girard's moniker involves a contraction of “melodie” and “medium” seems apropos given Anaemia's melodic emphasis, and in fact Girard's compositions often recall Nino Rota's music, specifically its more nostalgic side (the late Rota best known as the soundtrack composer for many of Fellini's films). The accordion in “Platitudes & Cloportation” lends the piece a European feel but its wayward piano theme more precisely recalls Rota , while “Chan's Escape,” one of the album's strongest tracks, also channels the Italian composer's spirit. Opening with a hint of the seashore in its soft background noises, the melody's wistfulness is quickly offset by punchy beats. The composition doesn't overly stray from its opening but, like Bolero, grows gradually denser as it instrumentally expands and intensifies.

Anaemia is a puzzling title choice, given that, by definition, the term refers to a lack of power, vigour, or vitality—an atypical characterization by an artist for a work, to say the least—although there's an alternate physiological definition which describes a reduction in red blood cells' hemoglobin, yet here, too, the result of such a deficiency is weakness and pallor. In marked contrast to these characterizations, there's no shortage of vigour or vitality to Anaemia, even if Girard favours a more melancholy tone overall.

January 2005