Le Seul Elément – Meradiam

Le Seul Elément is a French one man project from a musician who hasn’t revealed his identity. The début album Meradiam was released last month and it’s definitely an interesting release within the field of ambient music. With elements of noise and electronics in amongst the piano and occasional vocals, it’s a varied listen from Le Seul Elément, which for the most part brims with darkness and melancholy. Unfortunately a lack of coherence between pieces, and some weaker ones on the album let it down, but there’s some good parts to be found here.

01-03-37 opens the album nicely, a noisy layer of distortion dragged down by a ghostly layer of synth, it’s very dark and gloomy. With a brooding intensity it slowly builds up with a haunting melody. The layering of the noisy textures creates a thick layered sound, with barely discernible screamed vocals under the surface, evoking a kind of mental despair. Jancee provides a release with a bright piano melody and soft minimal synths, giving a soothing sound. There’s a little drama to it with the chanted vocals, expressive lower piano notes and scattered percussion. It’s a rich sound and even has something of a Dead Can Dance vibe to it. Heol though is somewhat nondescript, a dark piano melody takes the lead among some rather dull electronic experiments and more chanted vocals. With the gloom and psychedelia it almost sounds like a bad dream, but doesn’t really go anywhere and doesn’t really achieve that sound as well as it might have. Meradiam again has a dark piano melody as the lead among synths and bass drones. The noise and percussive rhythm that slowly builds it’s way into the track are rather flat and don’t really add much to the music or do anything much to create an atmosphere.

Teehee however is by far the best piece here. The pulsing noises and electronics flow so well with the soft piano and build up an excellent mysterious sound. The rasped screams that come in at the half way point have a passionate intensity, and add a nice dramatic energy which is completed by the percussion that comes in at the end. A brilliant downtempo piece and by far the best on the album. The album tails off massively after this though, with Dem returning to a rather dull sound, that electronic melody getting annoying quickly and the synthesized strings definitely verge towards cheesy. The closer is a fifteen minute piece Essist, and while it starts off well with a return to the noisy distortion of the first track, it gets dull quickly, and it more than outstays it’s welcome before even the half way mark. The artist even seemed indecisive about when to end it, it going quiet several times then starting again with another nondescript synth texture. It’s the worst piece on the album and a really bad way to close it.

Additionally each track doesn’t really flow into the next very well and feels like a standalone rather than a part of a whole, and with the weaker pieces present it does mar the album somewhat. But when it’s good such as in 01-03-37, Jancee and Teehee it creates a really moody, dark atmosphere.

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