Yann Tiersen – Infinity

Yann Tiersen - Infinity

Yann Tiersen – Infinity

If there’s one thing that will explain to the uninitiated who Yann Tiersen is, it’s that he is the musician who provided the soundtrack for the 2001 French film Amelie one of the most internationally popular French films of the Millennial and which enticed many hipster film goers into their nearest multiplexes by way of Audrey Tatou’s sassy urchin performance, a Parisian Bjork for the big screen of over a decade ago. Yann Tiersen might not perhaps thank me much for using this as an introduction to his 2014 album; after all, as one of the most prominent experimental musicians of his generation, and one whose career is approximately at its absolute peak, he probably got a little bored of anyone mentioning Amelie in around 2009 or thereabouts. No getting away from it however, that fact will tell you as much about Yann Tiersen as his Wikipedia entry, which is a large one, detailing his collaborations with numerous French and European musicians many of whom are relatively unknown in the English speaking world. Until now.

Deciding that the moment is right to popularise his compositions, and with a growing reputation to contend, Yann Tiersen is releasing an album that, while it inevitably contains hints of commercial and artistic compromises, reveals to us a committedly creative and able composer, maybe happiest behind the scenes but no longer prepared to remain quite so hidden. We remember the film Amelie although we don’t perhaps remember a lot about what went into its production. Now, as someone for whom the name of Yann Tiersen is a previously unknown one, I had to prepare this review with as much information as I could find on various websites and very usefully I found an interview Tiersen has given to French magazine Les Inrockuptibles where as well as mentioning the roles of others in its recording such as highly regarded Icelandic musician Olvaur Jakupsson and his associates in his Elektronische Staubband project the Laquierrie Poll brothers, he remains somehow evasive as to how he chose the vocalists whose contributions appear on Infinity. There is a definite connection to the Scots band Mogwai who most recently provided a soundtrack of their own to the very popular TV series Les Renevants (shown on C4 in the UK) and alongside members of Icelandic band Amiina he has also chosen to use the talents of Arab Strap vocalist Aidan Moffat on one of the album’s tracks. So, anyone wondering by now what the actual music sounds like could take Sigur Ros as a probable signpost and for the most part the music on Infinity is a skilfully crafted mixture of ambient soundscapes that are transformed into cohesive songs as Tiersen layers percussion and other elements across the initially sometimes formless tone generations that will inevitably have some listeners confused and others enraptured. If your own musical tastes run to the ambient and experimental, Infinity is an album for which your collection has a gap awaiting its arrival. I can sense somewhere that Tiersen himself would, if the decision was entirely his own, do things just a bit differently. Probably his next album is the uninterrupted 40 minute ambient symphony that he may have spent much of his music career preparing, and a musician of Tiersen’s experience would not want to let us hear such a work if he was less than entirely satisfied with it. Whatever his plans for the next year or two, the follow up to Infinity probably won’t be a film soundtrack: if it is, can everyone see a film that was quite as good as Amelie again?

www.yanntiersen.com