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Melody's Echo Chamber
Bon Voyage Jamie Ryder , June 14th, 2018 15:43

Melody Prochet returns to music with a collection of widescreen, windswept psychedelia

‘So much blood on my hands!’ Melody Prochet gasps, before being overtaken by buzzsaw guitars and surging electronics. Moments later, with what is either a violent, protracted string bend or a human wail of anguish (bloodcurdling in any case) we arrive, panting, at a delightfully unhinged climax.

This is ‘Desert Horse’, a manic, five-minute genre survey and the third track of Prochet’s insistently protean latest, Bon Voyage. The song, a breathless, heady gallop through such disparate environs as Incredible String Band-informed folk, glittering indie, vocoder asides and sudden bursts of trap percussion, is the album’s centrepiece and, in a sense, its microcosm. While a seven-track, 34 minute album might not be the format of choice for dedicated psychonauts, Bon Voyage is anything but insubstantial. It’s a work principally concerned with linearity, experimentation and relentless movement, consisting of a series of concise, obsessively detailed odysseys; corkscrewing songs that come to rest on a phrase or musical idea for what can seem like mere moments at a time before flitting off towards the next.

Such an approach can be demanding for audiences — dense, hyperactive song after dense, hyperactive song reads like a recipe for listening fatigue — but Prochet’s pop instincts, generosity with hooks and ornate production courtesy of Prochet herself, Frederik Swahn and Reine Fiske (two Swedes, members of indie group The Amazing and psych-prog outfit Dungen, respectively) keep the songs rich and busy without allowing them to become overstuffed. There is a joyously self-conscious engagement with, and a subversion of, psychedelic signifiers throughout — Prochet is happy for a song to reek of weed for a few bars so long as the backwards guitars and bird noises are perverted or recontextualised as soon as the listener gets comfortable. The whole experience is charmingly woah-dude in a way that never feels caricatured or insincere. Great pleasure is taken in employing the familiar apparatus and codes of psychedelia and, well, making them psychedelic again.

Closer ‘Shirim’, a sugary disco number with a woozy bassline, is the album’s most straightforward song. That the chaos of the preceding half hour is brought to a close by recognisable pop signatures is almost disorienting in itself, and no concession — this is a record where concessions are stridently refused countenance.