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What I'm listening to: Melody's Echo Chamber

French artist Melody Prochet crafts gorgeous, haunting dream pop

What I’m listening to: Melody’s Echo Chamber

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French artist Melody Prochet crafts gorgeous, haunting dream pop

It might be the eight years of French lessons talking—but I’ve always had a thing for French pop. From the playful vocals of Stereolab to the ass-kicking beats of Yelle (never mind Justice, Daft Punk, and—how could I forget—PHOENIX) there’s a sensibility all these artists share that moves beyond pure country of origin. Rather, these artists are all masters at creating their own identity and world—from Daft Punk’s signature helmets to Justice’s illuminated crosses to Yelle’s trademark bob and rainbow brights.

Fellow Francophile Melody Prochet (aka, Melody’s Echo Chamber) might be a newcomer to the scene, but already is proving she too can craft a unique identity. A classically-trained, 25-year-old, design school drop-out, Prochet’s world is undoubtedly darker and murkier than those of her aforementioned colleagues. But that doesn’t make it any less stunning, as her debut, self-titled record makes clear.

A native of the small French village of Puyricard, Prochet grew up mostly isolated from the world of experimental pop, recording bedroom DIY compositions with her brother in the '90s (“[they’re] really bad,” she tells Brooklyn Vegan. “Like R&B. In the South of France that's all the radio stations played.”)  Eventually, these recordings led her to join a band (the poppy, underrated My Bee’s Garden)…and eventually through said band she met Kevin Parker, of Australian rock sweethearts Tame Impala. Their friendship blossomed, and several years (and one tour) later, Parker produced her debut solo record as Melody’s Echo Chamber.

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Tame Impala fans will find plenty to love here, from Parker’s trademark fuzzed-out psychedelics and shimmering melodies. But the overall mood and feel is pure Prochet.

The record was mostly recorded in Parker’s studio in Australia, through what Prochet describes as a “very natural and organic process.” The vocals were recorded separately at her grandparents’ house in South France, because—Prochet claims—“I’m self-conscious and can’t sing in front of anyone.” You’d certainly never know it!

The record kicks off with striking single “I Follow You,” a dark, oscillating guitar line providing the perfect backdrop for Prochet’s float-y, air-y vocals. As the song continues, the layers build, until you’re completely encompassed in warm sounds. The effect is not entirely unlike diving into a pool of clear water—as the equally impressive video makes clear.

Follower “Crystallized” ups the psych quotient, with warbly, warped guitar coalescing, once more, around Prochet’s wispy vocals. “You Won’t Be Missing That Part of Me” is a space-y break-up anthem, Prochet playing the part of l'arnacoeur as she calmly coos “it won't be that hard to forget me”—while “Some Time Alone, Alone” adds jagged percussion and distorted arpeggios to stunning, shoegaze-y effect. 

The interplay between darkness and wonder recurs throughout, as Prochet juxtaposes images of an “empty heart” with innocent, childlike vocals. This is most apparent on album closer “Be Proud of Your Kids,” in which she samples an actual child—telling Brooklyn Vegan that, “I used to babysit kids and I just recorded them all the time, because it's so inspiring,” before going on to admit that the particular clip used was recorded on her iPhone. “She’s just this super amazing little girl,” she adds.

“Snowcapped Andes Crush” is another notable offering, with gauzy French vocals (one of three songs on the record to feature French vocals) adrift amidst free-jazz experimentation—while “Is That What You Said” is a spastic, 2-minute exercise in fuzzed-out layers bumping up against each other.

And if the whole thing feels vaguely like it’s taking place in a dream world, that’s because it sort of is.

“I had a dream in which my bedroom's acoustics changed into infinite echo mode," she tells Under the Radar Mag, describing the process behind MEC. "When I talked, my voice resounded endlessly.” If only all worlds were as gorgeous as Melody’s Echo Chamber.

Melody’s Echo Chamber is out now; stream it for free via NPR—then catch her live October 4 at Union Transfer with The Raveonettes. 

Related stories: What I’m listening to: Thee Oh Sees,  What I’m listening to: Fall 2012 Required Listening,  What I’m listening to: Animal Collective, What I’m listening to: Divine Fits,  What I’m listening to: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti 

Kate Bracaglia Philly.com Music Blogger
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