Yann Tiersen “Dust Lane” – Album Review

By Maria Bailey

  After two years in the making, Yann Tiersen’s sixth studio album Dust Lane was well worth the wait. Known predominantly for creating the innovative soundtrack for the award winning film Amelie, Tiersen stays true to form. While staying faithful to his trusty harpsichord and mandolins, the French composer and musician demonstrates a movement in his avant-garde style, incorporating an array of vintage sythesises, various musical genres and defying typical song structures. Tiersen is first and foremostly guided by his vision and intuition in creating the eight tracks on Dust Lane and has created a dreamy masterpeice at that.

Inspired by the loss of his mother and a close friend, Dust Lane is indubitably charged with mortality, each song figuratively encompassing what it is to be bereaved. Nonetheless, this album is uplifting, persueing the notion of life as something lived not lost. The opening song “Amy” showcases Tiersen’s impeccable musical intuition as he times the tension and release just perfectly, serving as a great insight into what’s install for the rest of the album. The track commences with sombre distorted minimalist parts on the keys and strings but as the song picks up speed, it becomes upbeat and layered with the inclusion of percussion and a multi-voiced chorus–a characteristic shared by the synth-suffused title-track “Dust Lane,” a song that implicitly celebrates life even in the face of death.

As the title strongly suggests, “Dark Stuff” is indeed the darkest song on the album, with ominous spoken vocals setting a sinister edgy mood. Charged with tension from beginning to end, the track crescendos with full force before the the last ten seconds of the track indicates an optimistic resolution to the suspense filled ride. Tiersen gets political albeit implicitly in “Palestine,” where the title is monotomously spelt out over and over in stark contrast with the competing sound of sawing violins and pulsating drums. “Chapter 19” exhibits a performance by Tiersen on his famous quivering mandolin and harpsichord, accompanied by the lifeless ambiguous words of Matt Elliot in the form of a monolougue. Hymnal “Ashes” is a stirring string melody, switching from a minor to major key it exemplifies the emotions felt over the course of a funeral service–sorrowful but grateful. “Till the End” is an eerie distorted synth suffused track, that adds and strips away layers of rolling drums, electric and acoustic guitars, a violen ensemble, polyphonic vocals and an emotive melody on the keys. Clearly, Tiersen is an artist who is concerned about the extremes of emotion and how it can have its highs and lows, ups and downs. The album ends in a breezy and somewhat ironic way in the duet “Fuck Me.” The sound of playful banjo’s and folk guitar tease you along before the introduction of throbbing drums and weezy synths, climaxing together.

Yann Tiersen’s latest album is a microcosm of his musical career, when we think we can see a pattern in his work, he surprises us with unique song structures, musical genres and new instruments. Tiersen defies our expectations and I expect he will keep us guessing for many years to come.

More Reviews by Maria Bailey:

More Music Reviews:
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* The Boat People – Dance to My Pain/ Antidote Double A-side Remix Package – CD Review
* JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys – “Fidelity” CD Review
* Montpelier ‘Last Boat’ Single Review
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