Review : Yann Tiersen - Skyline
PopmattersYann Tiersen is somewhat of an anomaly and has been placed under heavy scrutiny since exploding onto the world’s radar with his soundtrack for Amelie. He’s never considered himself a composer yet continues to compose for films and create albums worth of songs that play out like legitimate scores and compositions. Skyline is no exception to this, and it’s stronger for it, showcasing Tiersen at the current height of his abilities. It’s a very distinct, very engaging piece of art that holds up as it plays out and never tires.
The album begins with “Another Shore”, which comes off sounding like the best of Explosions in the Sky, provided they granted themselves a broader instrument palette. Remember those familiar peaks and valleys that were used so effectively on The Earth is Not A Cold Dead Place? Tiersen manages to reach similar heights here. If he would’ve hit the ground running with this style for Skyline, there’s no doubt in my mind Tiersen could create another instrumental masterpiece. Instead, he proves too restless to confine himself to the limitations of one genre, pushing himself into new spaces throughout the course of the album while still remaining distinctly himself, injecting each of the subsequent eight tracks with his familiar identity.
After Skyline‘s powerful start comes the pairing of “I’m Gonna Live Anyhow” and “Monuments”. The former contains hushed and distorted vocal passages and the near-continuous run of what sounds like a trumpet-emulating synthesizer. Then “Monuments”, once again, brings Explosions in the Sky to mind, only this time focusing in one the softer side of things and featuring very complementary vocals. “Monuments” becomes one of the albums strongest moments by virtue of beings its most unassuming, casting a gentle kind of magic that pulls the listener in and keeps them rapt throughout.
“The Gutter” restores some of the magic present in “Another Shore”, Skyline‘s huge opening track, while not succumbing to that tracks bombast—instead subtly expanding on a driving bassline until it becomes its own kind of indirect crescendo. It’s a gripping moment which proves how effective Tiersen can be expanding on minimalist themes. When he plays it relatively straight, he’s at his most captivating, which “The Gutter” helps make more apparent than usual. Punctuating that fact is the decision to follow “The Gutter” with “Exit 25 Block 20”, Skyline‘s most experimental track, and one of its shortest. There are no instruments featured until its halfway point, but even then, he struggles to reach the heights of a song like “Another Shore”, rendering it a slight misstep that temporarily derails the album’s momentum....full text
MusicomhJust a year since his last adventure, Yann Tiersen returns. He of that quirkily adorable Amelie soundtrack. He of those immersive live performances at festivals like Latitude. And while the tone of the lyrics gets darker, the music becomes more cheerful. Who'd have thought it? Like the master painter, Tiersen gets it spot on in this latest offering - a piece de resistance which makes any talk of Audrey Tautou's music-to-be-charming-to redundant.
Another Shore is a window into Tiersen's frighteningly beautiful construction. Bustling bells shuffle under an almost Interpol-esque minimalism to the acoustic guitar, before a stadium-worthy wall of noise rises from the machinery. It develops through a fantastic variations-on-a-theme structure, with each reimagining slightly more epic and upbeat than the last. Bass clarinet slinks around somewhere near the bottom, before a firework of extraterrestrial whistling launches into the next iteration....full text
Alarm-magazineFrench composer Yann Tiersen always has taken darker paths — even the Amelie soundtrack maintained a certain melancholy. His solo albums are more overt. On 2010 album Dust Lane, he appropriated a stark passage from Henry Miller’s The Rosy Crucifixion. On his latest, Skyline (finally released in the United States), he takes the tropes of horror films and makes music out of it — at least on “Exit 5 Block 20,” a track that begins with brutal howls that only subside for a short portion of the song.
The rest of Skyline is less abrasive, though it does maintain the rough-around-the-edges aesthetic that Tiersen does so well (mixed to perfection by Ken Thomas). The album is very much a sister release to Dust Lane; in a way, Skyline sounds like its B-side release (which it may well be; the two came out just a single year apart). The compositions again use a rock aesthetic — guitar, drums, vocals (often spoken) — supplemented inventively by strings, vintage synths, auxiliary percussion, and lots of gritty layers of effects (plus, apparently, the occasional howl)....full text
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