I’ve been sitting with Plurals’ album Bugenès Melissae for quite some time now and I’m still at a loss for words. It’s not that the album can’t be placed into familiar sonic terms, but as I try to go beyond the basic instrumentation and into the heart of a piece, it’s been a bit of work for me. Plurals’ music here is so expressive and formless that each new listen yields a different experience for me as a listener. I’ve listened in the morning and in the evening. I’ve even listened while navigating the busy downtown of my city, in hopes that perhaps the seemingly directionless sounds would find a truer form among the chaos of the world, but this was not the case. Instead, I’ve found after much exploration that Bugenès Melissae defies basic categorization or even my typical experiential writing, but not because it’s bad or dull. It’s actually captivating from start to finish and well worth your time. Read on for my rambles and musings.
Simply put, Bugenès Melissae is a brilliant display of restraint and precision through means of droning ambient music. To leave it at this, however, would be folly. You can hear the tension of instruments waiting to break in and through. The balance and beauty feel rather temporary as there are frequent hushed noises from players who seem to be waiting on the wings. Still, the drone is never fully broken in favor of these tensions, instead the real musical and emotional story is told in the frayed edges of the entire piece, somewhere between what is heard and what one expects to hear at any given moment. The resonance on its own could come across as almost blissful at times were it not for the piece in which it’s contained, and the static would not be nearly as ominous were it not for the considerably softer backdrop upon which it has been laid. The space where the two push each other apart creates a swelling feeling, not unlike that of clouds in a thunderstorm, all bulbous and rolling with chaos unseen yet implied. In “Behaved Like Mercury,” there are samples of voices that break through on occasion. I’m not sure what they’re speaking about, but they add to the general feeling of melancholy and powerlessness here. I almost feel like I’m in a hospital or jail cell being observed, listening to the voices of my distant watchers. It’s chilling and deeply evocative. In its partner, “Kamu,” the scratching and breaking of the wall is even more heavily threatened, yet the unsettling building of sounds never fully delivers on its promise of carnage, instead leaving the listener just on the safe side of things, allowing the imagination to be the true danger rather than the music itself. By the end, the uncertainty has been wiped away and smeared into the vacuum of an all-encompassing drone, with the occasional jagged edge poking out harmlessly. Everything returns back to the void until Plurals decides to summon it back on their next release.
Copies of this album are available on translucent orange vinyl from Oaken Palace here. The first 100 sold will be hand numbered and include a pouch of bee-friendly wildflower seeds, as Plurals have dedicated the entire proceeds of this album towards the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Grab this while it’s available, as you’ll be doing your ears, your collection, and the world an act of true charity.