88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 10/15, written by Mason Morris, WKNC Operations Manager
If you have seen the French film Amélie, you perhaps recall its vivid colors, quirky dialog, touching plot and most certainly its soundtrack. The violin, accordion, piccolo, xylophone and tambourine just begin to comprise its emotional tsunami of sound. It floats spirits, it drowns souls and it moves the viewer with sound as much as the cinematography does with sight. From the highs of “Les Jours Tristes” to the devastating crash of “La Valse D’Amélie,” each piece from the soundtrack pulls the strings of the listener’s heart. Fans of the Amélie soundtrack should be delighted to learn that the composer Yann Tiersen’s masterpieces did not start, and have not dropped off with his premier film score. Tiersen’s most recent studio release is titled Dust Lane, and it serves as his formal American debut. After my first listen through, I can only attempt to fathom why he did not appear sooner. The notes on the cover of the album share it’s dedication to the artist’s mother and Dédé Lafleur, both whom were dear to him and died at the time of writing and recording. These close sentiments are reflected throughout the pieces in an imaginative expression of love and dedication. The album begins with “Amy,” a song peppered with beeps and blips as a vessel lost in the stream of life searches for guidance and some solidarity.
This murky start clears as a glimpse of hope, rare to the album, crescendos into further chaos. “Sinking, sinking,” Tiersen laments. An end, presumably death, has been revealed to the man, as his music transitions to a drearier tone. The listener is led through a cloud of deeply personal confusion from here to the album’s conclusion. Dust Lane ostracizes Yann Tiersen’s previously known musical style with a mélange of synthesizers and heavy guitar riffs. The change is both genius and welcome.
“Palestine,” a politically charged, yet emotional, song from the album, puts Tiersen and colleagues spelling the state’s name repeatedly behind a haze of melody that dissolves as all structure falls. From Tiersen’s label, ANTI-, comes his description of the track. “I ended my last tour in Gaza City, and realized that even in the most unfair situation there is hope. It is when surrounded by mess and dust that everything comes to life again,” Tiersen said. Percussion and interference set a background as vocals intensify, eventually misspelling and entirely collapsing the idea – Palestine.
Tiersen succeeds in delivering his message to audiences with grace and beauty that is sure to cause chills. Yann Tiersen’s album does not end on an entirely negative note. “Till The End” is its penultimate track, and it is haunted by gorgeous ethereal singing, spiraling screeches, piano solos and a gleaming resolution. Perhaps all will be okay. Perhaps one can only move on. The piece transitions into the finale, “F*** Me,” where the album’s climax rests. “Love me, love me, and make me love again,” Tiersen begs in a major key. The end is not nigh for all. In an unmistakably complex way, the musical artist finds solace in the comfort of his partner and sings to her. Good music is listened to, but great music is experienced. Tiersen succeeds at this on all fronts in a brilliant album that must be listened to by all.
88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published in every Friday in the print edition of Technician, as well as online at technicianonline.com and wknc.org.