“Melt Into Nothing” is Ensemble Economique’s most lucid seance to date. The prolific Humboldt County musician has stripped layers off of his trademark haze but retained the beautiful desolation that’s earned him a rabid fanbase. The solo project of former Starving Weirdos member Brian Pyle, Ensemble Economique has crossed a land bridge from apocryphal world music and dusty soundtracks to gauzy 4AD-style atmospherics. Trellises of guitar embolden Pyle’s whispered, threadbare lyrics. On “Hey Baby”, the itinerant tone feels like an update on Neil Young’s stark and beautiful soundtrack for Jarmusch’s “Dead Man”. “Melt Into Nothing”, like that beautiful film music, evokes the great American expanse.
Field recordings slip in and out of the mix. On “Fade for Miles”, Pyle’s adroit effects and backwards tape manipulation make the long trail on his vocals fade into waves on a rocky beach. Pyle combines minor-key organ and spacious string synths on “Never Gonna Die”, recalling the grey grace of the releases on Factory’s gothic cousin, Benelux. Thunder accentuates the dubbed-out machine drum programming as Pyle’s dulcet tenor floats in storm clouds. The full-length also features contributions from Toronto artist DenMother and Parisian artist Sophia Hamadi, also of dark-wave Opale. This music is not excessively dark or severe. Rather, the record explores the internal dialogue of solitary walks. “Melt Into Nothing” is for making sense of humanity in nature’s unforgiving face. Ensemble Economique has made his most accessible record yet, but the complex emotion behind these tracks remains resonant and ultimately mysterious.