Melodium: Vilnius

Angers-based Laurent Girard has been building up a fairly substantial Melodium oeuvre since about 2000 so could be considered somewhat of an old hand at this juncture. In addition, the French producer doesn't perform live, so it's not a total surprise that a follow-up to the 2006 releases Music for Invisible People and Flacana Flacana (on Autres Directions and Audiodregs) is already available for mass consumption. The mini-album in question, Vilnius, is self-released but evidences no discernible drop in quality or dramatic shift in character from his other work.

The eleven songs are dominated by melodies that are sometimes pretty, sometimes sad, and almost always tinged with a wistful melancholy that lends Girard's material a modest gravitas; sometimes, a breezy folktronic setting like “Vilnius” directly evokes the charm of the French countryside. The instrumental materials are generally crunchy beats coupled with buoyant weaves built from organ, synthesizer, and acoustic guitars. “Srebrenica” underlays its pretty criss-cross of tinkling melancholia with a heavier and funkier backbeat, while “Muro” is driven by the whirr and click of punchy, rat-a-tat beats and gentle melodies. On his cover version of Mazzy Star's “I've Been Let Down,” Girard gives the vocal part the old college try, so to speak, but let's just say he's no Hope Sandoval; even so, it's still an affectionate and well-meant tribute. The unnamed hidden track is actually one of the prettiest pieces on the album, a gentle, organ-based lullaby that could easily send any child off to dreamland. Vilnius isn't a major advance, then, upon previous Melodium releases but it's no lapse either, even if it's relatively short running time makes it feel a bit slight in comparison.

October 2007