(Heligator Records, 2016)
Nothing reminds you of your physical limits compared to the vastness of everything else quite like ambient music. Benoît Pioulard, the nom de plume of Michigan’s Thomas Meluch, knows a thing or two about it, having risen in visibility among the ranks of his experimentalist-minded peers. Pioulard, as I’ll call him, crafts gentle, tranquil vistas of sound, cloaked in crackle and softened at the edges with static, injecting true nostalgia into every sustained and delayed note. As each moment passes, a sense of decay permeates the atmosphere, and when a piece ends, it’s as if human life has ended as well, and all that is left is the expanse of the universe.
“Finity” is Pioulard’s entry into Heligator Records’ digital singles series, and it’s a stunner, doing exactly what I mentioned above. It pierces every fabric of consciousness and demands full attention, yet is so gentle as to seemingly be one puff of breeze away from dissipation. To say the results are absolute magic wouldn’t be hyperbole, “Finity” is that affecting. And to realize that there’s a stopping point to the track – only five minutes and sixteen seconds after it begins – is to realize deeply and convincingly that this plane of existence lasts for such a short period of time in relation to Everything that there’s little point in spending that time fruitlessly pursuing selfish or angry things. My god, there’s utter peace to be found here, now – isn’t that what truly matters? We’ll find out on the other side, I guess.
It’s appropriate, then, that Pioulard has teamed with Heligator, as all proceeds of this track “contribute to the literacy and ongoing learning of refugees at the Malindza Refugee Camp in Swaziland, Africa.” Think about how “Finity” is an expression of both the infinite and the finite, indeed its creation in language an expression of the two terms. Then wonder – gape, even, become flabbergasted – how a concept like “refugees” even manifests itself into being. I’ve forced myself to tone down my amazement at the depths to which humanity sinks when there’s so much more life beyond what we know. How many stars are out there? How far away are they? And you’re telling me that we’ve become so self-important to ignore potentialities for enlightenment?
“Finity,” and its ilk, has certainly helped me through these moments of existential crisis.
Also, give money to these guys. They’re getting it to the right people.