There are lots of things I liked right from the start about Melody Prochet’s full-band project Melody’s Echo Chamber, one of which was actually the fact that it hadn’t put out a new album in five years: to me this spoke of a certain craftsmanship, a driving ambition to perfect the sounds and songs and make sure there was genuine feeling present within. It seems, that is, from experience that the main thing that contribute to mediocrity, or complete desolation, is excessive ambition, this assembly line attitude toward making an album.
When you hear this band’s music, too, you’ll forgive her all the more — Bon Voyage is indeed a stupefyingly complex organism, comprising blips of it seems every kind of music in this history the planet, including a stately Stereolab-emulating brand of electro-rock (Prochet even sounds a lot like Laetitia Sadier), and elsewhere hip-hop, jazz and pop. I found about this excursion on Bandcamp, usually a pretty reliable mechanism for getting me thinking outside the box (or enjoying the art of one who’s doing so), and another ingratiating aspect of Bon Voyage is the fact that the first song is almost seven minutes long, which I also liked about the new Wooden Shjips album. “Cross My Heart” expands with ebbs and flows and jazzy, wistful acoustic strums (the acoustic/electric guitar interplay will prove a feather in this album’s cap throughout), but at the same time, all of these songs bleed together with one another, centering on Prochet’s eerily pained and emotive delivery in singing.
Genuineness isn’t necessarily a problem anywhere on this trip but sometimes, related to how Prochet broadcasts to an American-leaning website, switches bandmates extensively and titles her piece Bon Voyage, the music can have the snag of seeming TOO worldly, lacking not so much focus but emotional specificity, intensity and zeitgeist, or culture, in other words. Granted, we’ve not been through world music, many of our planet’s cornerstones have been thoroughly globalized and we’re in a universe-at-your-fingertips time with technology in general, so perhaps Prochet should be forgiven a tad bit for this thick quality of relentless universality. Maybe connecting with music and enjoying it are two different things and I found Bon Voyage highly enjoyable, in such a regard.
Like I allude to earlier, Prochet can definitely veer dangerously close to the Stereolab department at times, but one laudable accomplishment of opener “Cross My Heart” is its ability to be precociously funky while also containing commendable aspects of other styles of music, namely alternative rock. Modest Mouse, then, would be a worthy comparison here, the “ripoff” territory avoided by the undeniably tense and jazzy grounding of Prochet’s work, steeped much more in Miles Davis than in The Rolling Stones. Just from Googling Melody’s Echo Chamber, you find that she’s wielding a pretty high profile these days — it will be interesting to see where French music goes from here, and refreshing as well, especially given the catastrophe that was that last Phoenix album.