Melody’s Echo Chamber is a self-titled record released in 2012 that combines in the most intoxicating way the enveloping dissonance of shoegaze with the dreaminess of psych-pop. The album, dreamt up by French producer Melody Prochet, flows like water from love-filled track to lovelorn track, for loveless people who still believe in joy, and creates the kind of indescribable sonic aura every psych artist seeks.
The very first track perfectly encapsulates the soul of the project as a whole, opening with a twangy, mildly overdriven guitar line that is soon joined by a laid back, jazzy dreamy drum beat and Prochet’s soft and melodious voice (living up to her name). The track drifts lazily through the first verse, establishing a tone without yet revealing its full potential. The true moment that begins the all consuming warmth of the album arrives in a glorious chorus, where the guitar moves from its jangly single notes to Strokes-esque barre chords and an ariose bassline, which sits beautifully high in the mix, is introduced to create the fullness that characterises the highest moments of the album. As odd as it may sound, the song closes with an extremely distorted and dissonant guitar solo, which carefully juxtaposes the harmonious composition of the two prior minutes.
From here the album really hits its stride, leaning heavily into its strengths as a psych album, with whirling synths and glistening pads that sweep across the mix as Prochet’s echoed voice croons over uptempo drum beats and bouncing bass. However, as simple as this may sound, each song is a carefully constructed maelstrom of layers and layers of different instruments and effects that have been engineered perfectly to encapsulate the ethereal and indescribable vibe. The album also refuses to get boring, with moments of bizarre experimentation thrown in every time the listener could even consider tuning out. This is what makes this album so special as a psych record, it avoids the failings of many of its kin, wherein they become too comfortable in the dreamy aspect of the genre, and allow their songs to become boring or repetitive.
The album flows like water from love-filled track to lovelorn track
Melody’s Echo Chamber keeps you on your toes with its transitions, moving from gentle to noisy and back again, its experimental elements, such as the noisy breakdown in ‘Snowcapped Andes Crash’ which sounds like the process of designing sound effects for a 50s sci-fi, and its instruments, with a shamisen like guitar on ‘Some Time Alone’ and an incredible chopped vocal sample that introduces and carries ‘Quand Vas Tu Rentrer ?’
Prochet makes excellent use of rise and fall, within tracks and across them, with the former being displayed on ‘Endless Shore’ in particular, a synth heavy, poppy cut from the middle of the album. The song moves from regular, driven verses into lazy choruses and back again so seamlessly it may take a second to notice the change, and the whole track is undercut by a rolling synth that crescendos and recedes like waves on a beach. The closest thing to a break in the continuous energy and alluring haze of the album comes directly after this track, and leads into what I believe to be the album’s highlight, and one of the best pieces of experimental synth-pop in recent memory. As ‘Endless Shore’ fades away we are presented with a rare moment of silence, which is suddenly cut by a ringing sample of Prochet’s voice delivering a single, short tone. Drenched in reverb and echo that holds for a second or two, it creates a tantalising sense of mystery. Suddenly, after a few repetitions, the isolated tone is replaced. The sample reoccurs, but this time forms a triplet, each one manipulated to a different pitch. This melody repeats, and suddenly chords appear from the aether, still making use of the same brief vocal sample, with Prochet’s singing appearing above the sound of her own dissected vocalisations.
Over a minute in, this careful build up pays off, and the song explodes to life. A ricocheting drum beat that sounds like something from the film Whiplash appears in tandem with a lilting bassline that you can’t help but bob along to as it lifts and drops like the world’s most relaxing rollercoaster. The song masterfully deploys crescendo as well as reduction, and the whirling synths in the latter half somehow create an even more intoxicating atmosphere than was already present. This song is also one of only two on the album sung solely in Prochet’s native French, and it benefits greatly from this. Though she sounds by no means awkward in English, there is a certain flow and musicality present in her French that perfectly suits the psychedelic style.
The whole track is undercut by a rolling synth that crescendos and recedes like waves on a beach
From here Melody’s Echo Chamber continues without any sign of relenting, and only picks up it’s experimentation, including moments on the bizarre ‘isthatwhatyousaid’ which opens at breakneck speed in a wall of fuzzy synth bass, reversed drums and rapid staccato guitars before fading almost invisibly into what sounds like Japanese ambient music sped up roughly 100x, and incorporating chipmunked reversed vocals towards its close. ‘Snowcapped Andes Crash’ fades in and out of being a melodic song and pure noise experimentation, moving between at seemingly random intervals, sometimes fading from one to the other, sometimes cutting off, and yet at no point does it feel confusing or boring.
The album’s closer, ‘Be Proud of Your Kids’, features voice recordings of a French child singing to a children’s rhyme, placed around the most sentimental and effective lyrics on the album, which demand of the listener exactly what the title suggests, pride in “every choice, every smile, show them love.” The song, and the album, ends with a final clip of the child’s voice declaring “the radio is finished, that’s it” in a gently self reflexive end to a tumultuous record.
At its core, Melody’s Echo Chamber is exactly that, an imaginary room in which all of the sonic concepts of its creator ricochet and combine, creating an all consuming aura of experimental, psychedelic creativity, creating a listening experience that perfectly combines aestheticism and abrasiveness, and is definitely worth a listen.