It’s been ten years since Melody Prochet burst into our consciousness with her enchanting, psychedelic pop, and much has happened since. Emotional Eternal, the third studio album from Melody’s Echo Chamber, is a glorious consolidation of the lessons learned along the way, seen through the eyes of someone who has taken a step back, and who can see clearly as a result. The spiritual jouissance and playfulness have remained very much a part of Prochet’s gorgeously effervescent music, though the undercurrents of darkness are perfused with real life experience.
Emotional Eternal is a deeply human collection of songs full of prolonged moments of sonic transcendency—a record that clearly exhibits its maturity but still regards the world with a childlike wonder. The fact it is with us here at all is a minor miracle. It was no coincidence that the last album was called Bon Voyage, as Prochet had had every intention of saying au revoir and not just à bientôt. If we’re surprised to have her back, then nobody is more taken aback than Melody herself: “I thought it would be the last record. However, a year after giving birth to my daughter, we were separated for a night, and I spent it recording a song she inspired me to write. Something disenchanting happened and there was this crazy void to fill; I just had to work. It triggered the mechanics of the whole musical spiral.”
That song, ‘Alma_The Voyage’, is the final track on Emotional Eternal, a beautiful paean to motherhood concluding with resounding violins and ebow that together evoke the spirit of the eternal and the circularity of life. It’s a happy denouement made all the more sweet given the well-documented struggles Prochet went through in recent times. That tempestuousness isn’t forgotten—it’s an undercurrent that bubbles below the surface on tracks like ‘Looking Backward’ and the storm cloud of diminished chords in the chorus of the title track, but there’s also a sense of resolution and calmer, bluer waters stretching out towards the horizon. That frailty and fallibility, once recognised, adds to a sense of urgency, and manifests as a musical carpe diem.
“I hope the record has that uplifting quality,” says Melody. “I wanted to be more grounded and mindful through the process. I guided the sessions with simplicity—a contrast with the maximalism of Bon Voyage and the wilderness of my delusions. I made some big and impactful decisions and changes to my life. It took me to where it is peaceful, and I think the record reflects this. It’s more direct.”
Since Bon Voyage came out in 2018, Melody has swapped Paris for the clean air of the French Alps: “I finally got a piece of land and a renovated sheep barn with lavender fields surrounding it,” she says. “In the mornings when I drive my kids to school, I see horses and I hear sheep and chickens. I love everything about living here. I sometimes walk to the city, hiking through a forest of Atlas cedars, pines, hazel trees.” That sense of equilibrium is detectable in the new record. If Bon Voyage was anarchic in its unruliness, then Emotional Eternal is the more cohesive and orderly of these siblings, though it too is full of sonic surprises.
There’s the shimmer of the citra, “a beautiful, folkloric, ancient Swedish instrument that is pure poetry and a fairy in itself” on the divine ‘Looking Backward’. Reine Fiske of Dungen plays – amongst other things – a traditional Turkish folk instrument called the Saz on ‘Pyramids in the Clouds’, doffing a cap to Turkish composers like Selda Bağcan and Özdemir Erdoğan. “I really love the wah-wah section in the middle,” Melody enthuses, “It makes me really happy.” Celebrated Swedish jazz drummer Moussa Fadera also appears on ‘Pyramid in the Clouds’, a song that was built from improvisation and then taken in hand by Melody, who brought her unique energy to it.
A metaphysical beauty suffuses Emotional Eternal, a mystical tapestry of cool influences and indefinable essences: ‘Personal Message’ gallops majestically, ushered in with triumphant strings, and features a giddily assured vocal performance from Prochet, vertiginous and breathy; ‘Where The Water Clears The Illusion’ is ornate and catchy, empyrean in its ambitions and yet just three minute long; ‘A Slow Dawning of Peace’ bends and twists with almost jazz-like disregard for form in favour of wild chord shapes, though it too returns with a surprise hook that becomes an incantation, working its magic on you with each listen. And ‘The Hypnotist’ is a stealthy, baroque pop song that ensnares you with repeats too, featuring a French spoken word section that drops seductively over elastic bass, evoking early 70s Gainsbourg.
Melody’s Swedish accomplices are back with her on this album, her musical soulmates who she met by chance at The Levitation Festival in Angers in 2015. Like the last album, Emotional Eternal was initially recorded in the Swedish forest on the outskirts of Solna, near Stockholm, with Reine Fiske and Fredrik Swahn of The Amazing reuniting the ‘Bermuda Triangle’—the nickname they gave themselves due to their ability to get lost in music together. That trio have grown into a production powerhouse, working closely together and refining what was already sublime on the last album: “I think my three albums are related, somehow,” reflects Melody. “The people I’ve worked with are siblings too. Kevin Parker was an absolute fan of Reine Fiske and Dungen, and he introduced me to their music in 2011. We all have a connection, but of course, Bon Voyage and Emotional Eternal are closer in sound because I recorded them in the same place with the same people.”
Call it serendipity, call it a happy accident—Emotional Eternal feels like coming across an abundant treasure chest. When Melody started writing again, she contacted her label to warn them that there might be new material. “[Domino founder] Laurence Bell advised me to just enjoy it this time. I remember thinking it’s not that easy but his words actually resonated, and it worked out that way.” Prochet has also been studying to be an art-therapist: “There’s a whole part that I find uncomfortable about pursuing a musical career,” she admits, “putting yourself in the spotlight and selling yourself is strange. There’s an odd dance in my brain between my insecurities and my values.” Whether Prochet is diffident or not about the mechanics of promotion, that doesn’t take anything away from the spiritual charge of Emotional Eternal—a record that’s every bit as emphatic as its title.
“Some music gets you to other worlds,” says Melody. “When I listen to the record, I can imagine being an explorer moving gently in a hot-air balloon, watching and listening to whales chanting in a sky of fireflies. I personally need to imagine living in a different world. I get so angry about the way things have turned out in this one.”For tour dates and more visit: www.dominomusic.com/artists/melodys-echo-chamber