Melodium: Kansva Work
Abandon Building

With impressive regularity, a fresh, new Melodium set surfaces, with the time elapsing between releases just long enough to allow Laurent Girard to cobble together another collection of melodic, keyboard-based songs. In fact, in this case he needed no more than seven days (in August 2012) to compose all but one of Kansva Work's thirteen pieces. He dubs the material he creates under the Melodium name “music for sadly happy people”—a not inaccurate way of capturing the particular way his music straddles joy and melancholy, often within the same song. On Kansva Work, which touches down in multiple stylistic zones and slightly broadens the sonic palette one associates with Melodium, the expected piano and acoustic guitar sounds are present but so too are synthesizers and idiosyncratic beat structures.

Girard's his usual unfussy, to-the-point self—only one of the pieces pushes beyond the three-minute mark (the six-minute closer “Nonreal”),—and the music is as spirited and playful as always. In many respects a quintessential exemplar of the Melodium style, “Bidual” overlays a jaunty rhythm base with off-beat guitar figures and a single-note piano melodic line. “Euclidean” and “Fibonacci” likewise have Girard's fingerprints all over them, with each reflecting that mix of sweetness and sadness in their respective gestures. There are surprises, though, one being that vocals are wholly excluded. Downplaying acoustic sounds, “Dimensions” gives its focus to a darker percussive and almost industrial-synthetic aesthetic, while an unexpected spacier dimension emerges near the end of “Googol.” “Lemma” is another vibes-laced oddity seemingly beamed in from Jupiter; by comparison, acoustic bass, piano, and drums lend “Midpoint” a much earthier feel.

But even when a different instrumental sound is incorporated, such as when Girard uses synthesizer instead of piano during “Hypotenuse,” it's not enough to hide the Melodium voice. There's a “blink and you'll miss it” quality to the album when every song (but one) arrives and disappears soon after, an effect exacerbated by the fact that its baker's dozen weigh in at a svelte thirty-seven-minute total—not a bad thing, however, when the word bloat could be applied to so many other recordings.

December 2012