Tag Archives: Taylor Waite

[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.


Review by Taylor Waite

[2011 in Review: Output:NOISE, ‘A Soundtrack to the DSM-IV’]

The Output:NOISE crew has never shied away from the application of conceptual structures to guide their improvisational-based performances and recordings. Their website explains that very often they will “arbitrarily divide the participating musicians into groups of three or four, giving each group a 15-minute time slot in which to develop a cohesive, synergic and compelling set.” In the past, this practice has often served as the defining characteristic of their shapeless– but somehow recognizable–sound.

The Upstate NY collective has taken this practice to a new level with their first professionally produced physical release, A Soundtrack to the DSM-IV. The DSM-IV of course is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and this soundtrack is a sonic interpretation of the ten disorders found on the DSM-IV. Those disorders—which also make up the song titles–include “Delirium,” “Narcolepsy,” “Catatonic Schizophrenia,” “Depression,” and (my personal favorite) “Pica,” whereby someone is compelled to eat non-edible objects.

Output:NOISE chief Jeremy Dziedzic explains that “Our aim in approaching this concept was to not only produce an environment that challenged our performers but, by having the performers put themselves in a mindset necessary to generate a convincing interpretation, give them a better understanding of the disorders that millions of people struggle with daily.”

A daunting task no doubt, but one that certainly produced interesting—although sometimes difficult—music to listen to. Numerous musical styles, including drone, noise, neo-classical, and others collide within the group’s larger improvisational structure creating a disorienting effect which does seem to make it easier for the “sane” listener to step outside oneself and take a cautions step closer to the insanity depicted within these recordings.


Review by Taylor Waite