Tag Archives: Benoît Honoré Pioulard Plays Thelma

[2011 in Review: Benoît Honoré Pioulard Plays Thelma]

Benoît Honoré Pioulard Plays Thelma (Desire Path Recordings)

There are certain locations within everyone’s lives that evoke vivid emotional responses. Generally, this is due to the personal connection that one has with that given space. Artists have long drawn inspiration from these types of spaces, whether by utilizing field recordings to infuse a sense of place into a song or simply by drawing compositional inspiration from the mental image of them.

Benoît Honoré Pioulard Plays Thelma–the third release from Buffalo-based record label Desire Path Recordings—is instead an elaborate audio postcard from an imagined place, one that that the artist Benoît Pioulard supposedly created in conversation with his wife. Indeed, this 12” mini album is an intensely personal recording in both conception and composition.

Known simply as Thelma this imagined place is represented by Pioulard as a picturesque refuge where the listener imagines the sun shining down on a small lake or pond, lined by willow-like trees offering shade close to the water’s shoreline. With buzzing tones and glowing drones, Pioulard weaves together a wraithlike world where the texture of experience is all together different and the flow of time is anything but familiar.

The reason for the creation of this world by the artist never becomes overtly clear during the course of this brief 23-minute recording. The intensely personal nature of the recording however suggests that the conjuring of this place was not simply an experiment in composition. Rather, it feels as if Thelma is a “real” place in that it existed in the mind of the artist before it inspired this creative representation of it. Considering that it was something that arose out of discussion with his significant other, one wonders if Thelma is not a place existing jointly in the minds of a couple as a goal–perhaps a hope–as a place to one day retreat to together in peace. Whether or not Thelma is then a real space or simply symbol for something else entirely remains ambiguous but ultimately unimportant.

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Review by Taylor Waite


[Label Spotlight: Desire Path Recordings]

This week on the Upstate Soundscape, Michael Vitrano, head of Buffalo-based record label Desire Path Recordings, is stopping by to discuss his label, experimental music, and some upcoming releases on the DPR imprint.

Its only been a little over a year since DPR emerged on the international experimental scene with the release of Ritual by Solo Andata, a well-respected Australian duo known for interweaving inventive field recordings with stark neo-classical, ambient soundscapes.

While Ritual may have flown slightly under the radar after its initial release in the fall of 2010, the album, which was beautifully packaged by DPR Art Director Chris Koelle, has since been critically hailed around the web as a mesmerizing record  with a disquieting, even nightmarish quality.

Anti-Gravity Bunny aptly describing Ritual  as “eerie as fuck,” claiming the album contained sounds that “If I were to hear alone in the woods, regardless if the sun was up, I would immediately call the cops and start walking in the opposite direction.”

With its masterfully crafted sound and its meticulously designed vinyl packaging, including a special $60 special art edition (sold out, unfortunately), Ritual would set a high bar for DPR’s future releases. And with two more well-received releases under its belt, Kyle Bobby Dunn’s Ways of Meaning and Benoît Honoré Pioulard Plays Thelma, DPR has begun to solidify its reputation within the hierarchy of experimental labels alongside 12k, Experimedia, Under the Spire, and Type.

Things have moved fast in the past year for Vitrano and DPR so make sure to tune in Wednesday night at 10pm to hear more about it, along with some choice cuts from the Desire Path Recordings catalog.

We’ll also get an exclusive preview of some yet-to-be released material from Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer. For now, check out the interview below that Vitrano was kind enough to provide.

The Upstate Soundscape: What is the story behind Desire Path Recordings? How/when did it get started? What was the motivation behind the label’s creation?

Michael Vitrano: Ever since I can remember I’ve always had a passion for music, in some genre or another, and yet I never got involved as a musician or artist. Whether this stems from an innate feeling that I want to be removed from the creation of music yet embrace the result, I am unsure.

The only way I saw to contribute to the experimental music community was to release music that is singular and unique on a format that I love dearly.

Desire Path Recordings was borne out of the need to help further the home listening experience, where vinyl is the ideal format, to allow listeners to become absorbed in the music without the constraints and distractions of listening to music outside of a homogenized personal space.

It started, in theory, in early 2009, when I decided I could no longer sit idly by and not get great music out into the world.

Is there anyone else involved in running the label or is this essentially a ‘solo project’?

While I am the owner and curator of the label, Desire Path Recordings wouldn’t exist without the art direction and guidance of Chris Koelle. I consider this endeavor his as much as it is mine.

Are there any labels out there that you patterned DPR after or strove to emulate? What labels, past or present, do you admire? 

Well, this could prove to be a very long list but I admire labels that strive to release unique music and are not beholden to one particular genre. When I first started the label, I wanted to focus on modern classical works, field recordings, and microambience, but I’ve since evolved in my thinking and created the vague description of “distinct pathways” to cover what we’re after.

At the top of the list are ExperimediaTypeKranky as well as Stunned RecordsECM, and Miasmah.

What’s your take on the current state of experimental music? Is this a good or bad time to be an experimental artist/fan?

This is absolutely a great time for experimental music and the only problem is that there’s just so much of it. It’s never-ending.

Any releases from the past year that really stand out to you?

Plenty. The Peregrine by Lawrence English on ExperimediaMooncusser by High Aura’d on YldmierLanguage by Ekin-Fil on Root Strata, and Haeligewielle by Petrels on Tartaruga.

Tell us about some of DPR’s upcoming releases.

DPR’s next release is a collaboration between Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer called Day of the Demons. I imagine this will appear in the New Year. After that, I don’t think I’d like to say too much.

Tell us about some past DPR releases that you think deserve some special attention.

Well, the first release by Solo Andata, Ritual, seemed to be overlooked quite a bit. I think that given the fact it’s very dark and scary, it seemed to only appeal to a niche audience. I think, though, if people get past the uneasy exterior, they’d find an intricate world in there ready to be explored.

Any advice for aspiring label owners?

Just go ahead and do it. I knew absolutely nothing and I’ve had to piece things together on my own. Also, you have to expect to lose a lot of money at first. In fact, depending on the music you’d like to release, this is not a profitable endeavor. It’s a break-even endeavor.

Any Upstate artists/labels you are really into at the moment? Any one we should look out for?

House of Alchemy, which I see you’ve featured recently.

How does somebody get a hold of DPR’s stuff?

I keep some stock at Spiral Scratch Records, so locally that’s an option. Our website, of course, and ExperimediaForced ExposureBoomkat, etc. for all mail-order inquiries.

Michael Vitrano will be an in-studio guest on the Upstate Soundscape this Wednesday night (11/23) at 10pm. Tune in to 91.3FM WBNY or stream at WBNY.org.