Benoît Pioulard is the Gallic pseudonym of Oregon singer-songwriter Thomas Meluch, for whom inscrutability is an instrument and affectation an art. On his second album, Temper, he continues with the gorgeously accentuated folk of his debut, Précis. Although driven primarily by Meluch’s intrepid acoustic guitar, Temper is a many-layered affair, an engaging concoction of delicate electronics, birdsongs, and tape experiments that resonate with impossible harmony. A smeared, dreamy blur from a distance, his songs reveal a painstaking level of detail and composition on closer inspection. On “The Loom Pedal,” he sings through a gauzy filter as if from a decaying phonograph cylinder. His lyrics are obscured and, in the end, unimportant — you’re content to drift along on the rhythm of syllables. Meluch is right at home on Kranky; his mixture of acoustic folk and sweeping, ambient accents recalls labelmate Jessica Bailiff as it dwells in the subconscious alongside Stars of the Lid. A few tracks, like “Sweep Generator” and “Cycle Disparaissant,” indulge Meluch’s post-rock inclinations more directly — short, abstract interludes between his more traditional numbers. Temper is sedate, but never lazy or diffuse.
DOWNLOAD: Benoît Pioulard, Brown Bess [mp3]