It’s been six years since French musician Melody Prochet made her mark in the dream pop scene with her acclaimed self-titled debut under the moniker Melody’s Echo Chamber, produced by her partner at the time, Kevin Parker of Tame Impala. Parker helped the classically trained musician materialize her love for indie pop, shoegaze, and 1960s French pop, and the duo’s collaboration was truly a fruitful one. When she started working on a follow-up album with him, however, they broke up, and she could not finish and release the album. In 2016, Bon Voyage was announced, but Prochet suffered a serious accident that caused a brain aneurysm and broken vertebrae, postponing the release of the album. “I needed a break from that sort of passion pattern and obsessing over music,” she said in an interview with Pitchfork after she recovered. “Open up to other horizons! Traveling the world and doing serious hikes is a new dream of mine. There is always music inside of me.” It’s evident that her traumatic journey gave her space and time to explore new territories musically, too, enriching the album’s sonic pallet without abandoning the influences that have shaped her.
On ‘Bon Voyage’, Melody’s Echo Chamber sets sail for a strange world that bridges the gap between past and future and brings together different languages and sounds, resulting in her most adventurous, psychedelic, and experimental release. In other words, if you were disappointed by the familiarity of her debut album, you’ll enjoy the many surprises that her latest release has to offer in its even shorter (33-minute) runtime. Swedish psychedelic producers Fredrik Swahn (The Amazing) and Reine Fisk (Dungen) have definitely something to do with this, as their work here often recalls not so much psych-pop acts like Tame Impala and Broadcast, to whom Melody was commonly compared following her previous release, but rather the progressive psychedelic rock of the late sixties.
The album opens with ‘Cross My Heart’, a 7-minute odyssey that’s a testament to the broad and eclectic mesh of sounds on the album – a decision that seems at once bold and uncertain, but never dull and potentially liberating. Not long after the song has established its nostalgic groove and introduced Prochet’s enchanting, beautiful vocals, it’s intriguingly interrupted by an electronic beat that transports us decades later, before transforming back to a steadily-building, distinctly distorted guitar track. Swahn and Fisk are also at least partly responsible for the refreshing brilliance of highlight ‘Desert Horse’, another dynamic, fuzzed-out psychedelic track that brings in Turkish musicians to create a mysteriously mesmerizing atmosphere as Prochet sings the album’s most memorable, oddly sinister line: “So much blood on my hands/ And there’s not much left to destroy.” Once again, modern R&B and electronic elements make their way into the mix, turning it into a fascinatingly dense and forward-thinking piece. Middle-Eastern melodies return later on ‘Visions of Someone Special, On A Wall of Reflections’, where Prochet delves into the darker depths that she hesitated to reach on her debut.
As if to prevent this collection of songs from sounding like an overwhelming mess, Prochet has placed a few shorter, more straightforward indie pop tracks in-between the longer, more intense ones. The otherwise conventional dream pop tune ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ or the danceable closer ‘Shirim’ still have moments of surprising playfulness and detail, while the Swedish folk song ‘Van Har Du Vart’ allows for an intimate and wondrous vocal performance. While there is obviously a language barrier for most people – the album frequently shifts between English, French, and Swedish – this combination actually enhances the sense of diversity, universality, and global exploration that become the thematic core of the album – a symbol for the artist’s own personal search for freedom and strength, as turbulent and tumultuous of a journey as it might have been. The long-awaited ‘Bon Voyage’ might be a bit too eccentric and not accessible enough for some, but that’s what makes it compelling. It’s the kind of rebirth that promises great things to come.
‘Bon Voyage’ is out now via Domino.