Benoît Pioulard & Offthesky


The new collaborative release by Brooklyn-based Thomas Meluch and Denver-based Jason Corder as Benoît Pioulard & Offthesky has a shimmering and hazy ambience full of gorgeous textures, sunlight, and warmth. Looking at this cover art could offer a glimpse into its pastel palette of aural colours, but nothing compares with the music itself. Here, just like the photograph taken by Meluch’s Polaroid SX70 camera, we are blanketed by a gentle shift in sounds, organic loops and lo-fi calm. The duo’s gorgeous approach to zooming out from the presence and then observing it through a soft-focused lens creates a long-desired suite of ambient vignettes that truly soothe the soul. I’m on my fourth listen already this morning, and honestly, I think I’ll leave this album repeating all day. Both artists fuse so perfectly together here that it’s almost surprising that this is their very first collaborative work – and I’ve known them both for over 16 years! You can check out their dual credentials in detail on the label’s Bandcamp page. My gratitude extends to the one and only Mathias Van Eecloo of his monumental laaps imprint (and project), who commissioned this beautiful record, which was subsequently mastered by Taylor Deupree and then pressed on a limited edition hand-numbered transparent vinyl. “Best experienced as a whole, the album’s subtle flow is imbued with an arc that balances melancholy with windswept drift.” I couldn’t have said it better. Highly recommended for those in search of sonic serenity.


Secret Recess

Somewhere along the same slightly lo-fi, hazy ambient aesthetic lies a new album by Luke Entelis, a New York-based artist recording under the moniker Viul (pronounced ‘vell’). He’s previously appeared on Past Inside the Present imprint (I guess we’re label mates!). I’ve also premiered a piece from his collaboration with Benoît Pioulard from Konec, released by A Strangely Isolated Place in 2022. For Secret Recess, Entelis reaches into his arsenal of analogue synthesizers, guitars, and tape machines to create a spacious, slightly muted, soft-hued ambient decadence, reflecting on memories of the past and projections of the future. “Some pieces feature delicate melodies curling over themselves, while others offer gradually evolving loops underpinned by subtle guitar plucking, distant found sounds and obscured voices at half-speed. All are crafted meticulously with analogue sources and sifted through soft-edged tape processes that reward a dedicated headphone session, conjuring the solitary space promised in the album’s title.” Traces of previous experiences imprint their own familiar taste on how we undergo this moment, and there are moments in Viu’s new work on Dauw that trigger some of those for me. “Taurum”, in particular, carries me through that early electronica era, yet somehow it undeniably exists only now. I actually can’t possibly explain it in words. And this is where this music speaks its best. Mastered, again, by Taylor Deupree, this little gem can be purchased on vinyl, along with a cassette edition of Viul’s unreleased Green Corridor EP.

zakè & Benoît Pioulard


I suppose this is turning out to be a Sound Bytes column featuring some exceptionally blissful calm. I swear, it was not my original intention to group them this way. But I’ve set these beautiful albums aside to catch up on when the time was just right – when it’s quiet and early in the morning and the city’s asleep. The weekend is perfect for these meditations, especially at 5 am. On this late-in-the-year release on Zach Frizzell‘s personal-work sublabel he calls Zakè Drone Recordings, we find him collaborating with, you guessed it, Thomas Meluch again, and it’s a perfect three-piece long-form excursion into textures, timbres and tones. “eve arose from more than a decade’s worth of sound fragments, recovered and arranged into harmonic strata like photographs in a family album. For each chapter, zakè crafted the sonic bedrock from these remnants, and Pioulard added varying orchestrations of tape-processed guitar, voice, dulcimer, melodica, and synthesizer.” I love all the tiny details embedded within all these single progressions – from the rustle of the fire in the cold and dark corner to the crackle of the needle on the calmly spinning disc. The track titles on the album reflect the quiet and long nights in December, “where fleeting moments of peace manifest in visible exhalations and crystalline silence.” Mastered by James Bernard in his Ambient Mountain House, the physical version of the album is sadly sold out. But hey, you can get the entire digital discography at 90% off! I just checked, and Past Inside The Present is also running an 85% sale! Oh, and one last thing – be sure to also check out Zakè’s latest album, Lapis, released on January 17th, 2024, via quiet details.