Bon Voyage proves how adaptive Melody’s Echo Chamber as a project can be when push comes to shove.
Melody Prochet spoke a bit on the nose to detail her comeback record, Bon Voyage, describing it to Pitchfork as “a well I could scream, confide, and whisper into without prudishness.” As the name suggests, Prochet’s dream-pop solo project Melody’s Echo Chamber exists as her safe space to freely let out her private musings. Such an outlet seems especially vital after taking a peek at the past six years of her life since her self-titled debut, a tumultuous period filled with a scrapped album after a painful two-year session and a serious physical accident. Throughout Bon Voyage, Prochet tries her best to make sense out of such traumatic chaos.
The initial impression of Melody’s Echo Chamber as heard on the 2012 album sounded rather innocent. Prochet built her private pop outlet based on the retro dream-pop foundations of Broadcast with her thin, ethereal voice panning across blown-out guitar riffs and warm analog synths. While the caked-on distortion amplified the size of her songs, its density gave the songs a heady feel without a window of release. The unsettling atmosphere inflated her emotions into a more intense figure, drawing out the most of its power in a single like “I Follow You.”
The introverted borders once set in Prochet’s compact debut breaks down in Bon Voyage as she lets her music wander into a more otherworldly frontier. The album opens with what sounds like a typical Melody’s Echo Chamber fixture as a reverb-heavy guitar riff introduces “Cross My Heart,” but the familiar air soon gets interrupted by an anonymous beat-boxing, like she accidentally moved the knob to pick up a different radio signal. As more and more musical flourishes from flutes to strings pour into the six-minute psychedelia, she treads away from a traditional verse-chorus structure of a pop song to instead let these new dizzying instruments do the talking.
As Prochet plays with form, she also finds more room for growth in Melody’s Echo Chamber’s musical identity. The rich new additions of sounds stay true to the project’s already-well-defined world that imports elements from psychedelic rock, European pop and synthesizer music released in the ’60s and ’70s. Yet it also inspires new modes of expression beyond the bashful pop signature to the debut. “Shirim” moves with a more extroverted feel, thanks to the loosely disco guitar licks. Meanwhile, “Vision of Someone Special” indulges her baroque interests by stacking strings and synths that reach for the skies.
The woozy trip during the A-side of Bon Voyage progresses into a terrifying direction, and the unsettling feel shared in the first three songs portrays an experience headed into a downward spiral. “Breathe In, Breathe Out” speaks literally about her exercise to keep calm, and it doesn’t help she’s surrounded by a swarm of nerve-wracking sounds. Foreign voices and sudden shifts in motion constantly disrupt the song’s flow as she tries to remain strong. That sense of anxiety then warps into its darkest point in “Desert Horse” as a series of uncomfortable noises threatens her stability. “So much blood on my hands,” she sings coldly before taking a deep breath, only for a random scream to keep her on high alert.
While the latter half of the album offers more clarity as well as more immediate joys, the chaotic experiments of the first three songs are more honest to the current state of Melody’s Echo Chamber. The kitchen-sink sounds don’t quite coalesce into a defined song, yet they tell plenty about Prochet’s headspace while she was putting the record together. If anything, the disorganized side of Bon Voyage proves how adaptive Melody’s Echo Chamber as a project can be when push comes to shove.