Melodium: The Island
Audio Dregs

Composed and performed between 2008-09 (with no explanation given for the three-year interval between recording and release dates), Laurent Girard's fourth Melodium album for Audio Dregs draws its inspiration from the Island of Oleron, off the coast of France, where it was recorded, and is dedicated both to the island as well as the television series, Lost, itself, of course, primarily situated on an island.

Certain things immediately make The Island stand out from others in the Melodium canon, contrast foremost among them. In conspicuous manner the recording alternates between instrumentals and vocal songs, for one, and secondly, the vocal songs generally exude a dark, even embittered tone, sometimes in the music's mood and sometimes lyrically (e.g., “The Little Robot”). Even non-vocal pieces convey a sombre spirit, such as “Lacrymae,” for example, which opens the forty-six-minute collection with a dramatic blend of flutes, synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and percussion. Here and elsewhere, the Angers, France-based musician creates material that possesses a particularly Gallic character that readily identifies it as Melodium. As listeners familiar with Girard's previous releases are aware, his is a largely acoustic and pronouncedly melodic sound-world filled with acoustic guitars, pianos, flute, strings, and wonky drum patterns that's also sprinkled with subtle synthetic colour.

Vocally, Girard opts for a low-pitched murmur that's sometimes doubled-up for greater impact and, in the folk-blues “The Pseudo Friends,” echo-laden. It's the instrumentals, however, that are overall the more satisfying, in part for encompassing a comparatively broader range of styles and moods than the lilting vocal songs, but even more notably for being breezier in spirit and thus easier to warm up to. One is quickly won over by the lyrical and melodic charms of pretty instrumentals like “Supervacuum” and “Gaisma,” for instance, and entranced by the multi-layered piano propulsion and classical strings of “In Deserto” and “Sine Ictu,” respectively. Such pieces are like mini-symphonies, given that they're usually elaborately orchestrated (though not to excess) yet often no more than four minutes long.

May 2012