sat 22/06/2024

CD: Melody’s Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Melody’s Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage

CD: Melody’s Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage

Long-awaited follow-up to 2012 debut is wonderfully weird prog-odyssey

Melody Prochet, back from the brink

Sophomore records are never easy, especially when your debut was as acclaimed and beloved as french artist Melody Prochet’s first outing as Melody’s Echo Chamber, and this follow-up has had its fair share of bumps in the road. Prochet first announced Bon Voyage in April last year, on her 30th birthday; a new song was released, and a string of tour dates to go with it.

But shortly after, Prochet was hospitalised following a serious accident that left her with broken vertebrae in her neck and spine, and a brain aneurysm. The album and accompanying live shows were put on hold. It’s impossible to know what stage Bon Voyage was at when this happened, but it certainly sounds like an album informed by trauma and healing.

Months worth of demos with former partner Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) were abandoned in favour of a fresh start. Prochet took herself off to the enchanted forests of Sweden, where she collaborated with Reine Fiske (of Stockholm neo-psych stalwarts Dungen) and Fredrik Swahn (of The Amazing); the trippy trio called themselves The Bermuda Triangle, and the resulting record is sonically expansive with an addictive, earworm groove - a deep-dive into their collective musical psyche.

Opener ‘Cross My Heart’ lulls you into a false sense of security with acoustic guitar, folkish kick-drum and Prochet’s signature breathy soprano. But just 1’30 in and all that is scrapped and swiftly replaced with a hip-hop breakdown, complete with bongos, turntable scratches and (yes, really) a flute solo. It feels like the point of no return, on an album that is bursting with ideas. Exploratory mini-epic ‘Desert Horse’ delves deeper into the realm of the surreal, all vocoder one minute and blood-curdling screams the next. Prochet’s whispered refrain “So much blood on my hands / and not much left to destroy,” hints at the darkness and disillusionment she’s endured while becoming, in her words, “an adult woman in a mad world”.

Perhaps that’s why there’s an inherent playfulness in the music. Traditional structures and formats go out of the window. Prochet describes recording sessions as a “modern fairytale”, informed by a mutual love of Can, Neu and The Flaming Lips. A strong contender for the weirdest moment on Bon Voyage is an unexpected spoken-word piece from Nicholas Allbrook (Pond) on ‘Quand Les Larmes D’un Ange Font Danser La Neige’. His Perth drawl feels like a woozy echo from the past, before he promptly tells us he wants to shit all over himself when he dies. Background music for pottering around the kitchen, this is not. Listen on headphones, and give it time. Bon Voyage is intense, sensitive, and ultimately, true to life: it’s a difficult, complicated album, but totally worth it.

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