Melodium: Flacana Flacana
Audio Dregs

Melodium: Music For Invisible People
Autres Directions in Music

Music For Invisible People and Flacana Flacana are two dramatically different Melodium releases by Laurent Girard. The former is the more pop song-oriented of the two and includes a generous amount of singing; the latter is minimal by comparison with the focus on brief settings of piano and guitar.

Girard digitally assembled Music For Invisible People's guitars, vocals, flutes, melodicas, xylophone, and keyboards after composing the songs during a summer stay on the isle of Oleron, and the breezy, folk-styled material often feels like it's been warmed by the sun. Melodicas and xylophones convey a wistful tale of lost romance in “My Xylophone Loves Me,” making it Melodium music at its best. Unfortunately, Girard's singing, while serviceable and natural, isn't on par with the material itself which consistently impresses. The melancholy guitars and shuddering strings that float through “I'm Not Already Dead” communicate far more affectingly than does the monotone vocal, for instance. Interestingly, Girard's material is more appealing the less it's encumbered by excess and when its melodies are provided room to breathe. The otherwise lovely piano and vibes melodies in “We Are All Right Here,” for example, are only weakened by the stumbling drum pattern.

All such weaknesses are absent on Flacana Flacana . At first glance, one might expect that Music For Invisible People's more elaborate production approach will render it more appealing but it's Flacana Flacana's simplicity that charms most (simplicity even extends to the titles: “Flacana 01,” “Flacana 02,” etc.). There's no need to strain to appreciate Girard's melodic gifts here as they're front and center throughout. The mood is typically dreamy and melancholic in 17 purely instrumental vignettes that feature piano, acoustic and (sometimes aggressive) electric guitars. The only caveat is that some songs are so short, they verge on sketches; more critically, such pieces miss out on the emotional satisfaction a longer piece can produce. Having said that, the lilt of the fifth variation is beautiful, as is the graceful arc of electric guitars in the sixth, but, really, singling out individual moments seems contrived when the album as a whole impresses as one lovely, uninterrupted swoon.

January 2007