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Yann Tiersen|Portrait (Portrait Version)

Portrait (Portrait Version)

Yann Tiersen

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On Portrait, Yann Tiersen celebrates his multi-decade, multi-genre career by bringing it full circle. Instead of just gathering the best-known songs from his discography, he emphasizes the classical training that he rebelled against as a youth and the French folk and chanson roots of his music by reinterpreting pieces from albums spanning 1995's Valse des Monstres to 2019's ALL. If Portrait's somber mood, grand scope, and numerous collaborations bear a close resemblance to the latter album, there's a good reason: Tiersen came up with the idea to reimagine his entire body of work with this collection during the rehearsals for the ALL tour. The hushed but majestic atmosphere of that album is especially prominent on "Grønjørd," originally from 2014's ∞ (Infinity), a major influence on his subsequent work. The delicately urgent, piano-based instrumentals of 2016's Eusa also cast a long shadow over Portrait, and "Porz Goret"'s darkly winding melody is just as lovely here as it was before. The way Tiersen strips away the whimsical touches of his early albums might be jarring to fans who fell in love with his sound via the Amélie soundtrack, but it helps unify his music as a whole. "La Dispute," one of the songs immortalized and romanticized by the film, is reimagined as a duel/duet between accordion and piano that underscores its theme of conflict. On the other hand, Portrait's version of "Comptine d'un Autre Été (L'Après-Midi)" adds more warmth and melancholy to one of the composer's most famous melodies. Fortunately, Tiersen doesn't strip his music down too much. The musical saw on "Pell" is a ghostly acknowledgment of his love of unexpected instrumentation, while the toy piano that was a staple of his earliest work makes a charming, if slightly sinister, return on "Waltz of the Monsters" and stands in for a carillon on "Prayer No. 2." The bracing harpsichord on "The Jetty" makes it impressive and a little imposing, a feeling that's reinforced by the heavy guitar textures (courtesy of Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley) on "Prad" and "Introductory Movement." Here and on the tracks with vocals, Tiersen tempers Portrait's frequently contemplative tone. Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys helps reinvent "Monochrome," Tiersen's first hit in his native France, by giving it a weary heft reflecting all the years since it originally appeared. Two of the retrospective's brand-new pieces are among its finest: "Closer" unites Tiersen's fluttering piano with Blonde Redhead's breathy vocals in a collaboration that balances the deeply romantic sides of both artists' work perfectly. On the striking final track, "Thinking Like a Mountain," Tiersen meditates on the natural harmony between danger and safety with the help of O'Malley, Melanie Knott, and John Grant, who recite excerpts of ecologist Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac over soaring strings and feral, panting backing vocals. It's a fitting end to Portrait, which balances the adventurous and traditional sides of Tiersen's music in a way that honors the sense of wonder and beauty in his work since the beginning.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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Portrait (Portrait Version)

Yann Tiersen

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1
Introductory Movement (Portrait Version)
00:07:14

Yann Tiersen, Composer - Stephen O'Malley, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

2
The Long Road (Portrait Version)
00:02:18

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

3
Monochrome (Portrait Version)
00:03:55

Gruff Rhys, Featured Artist - Yann Tiersen, Composer, MainArtist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

4
Chapter 19 (Portrait Version)
00:04:26

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

5
Rue des Cascades (Portrait Version)
00:06:21

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

6
The Old Man Still Wants It (Portrait Version)
00:01:48

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

7
Gwennilied (Portrait Version)
00:04:33

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Emilie Tiersen, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

8
Prad (Portrait Version)
00:04:12

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Stephen O'Malley, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

9
Diouz An Noz (Portrait Version)
00:03:41

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Ólavur Jákupsson, Featured Artist - Emilie Tiersen, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

10
Porz Goret (Portrait Version)
00:04:17

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

11
La Dispute (Portrait Version)
00:03:41

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

12
Pell (Portrait Version)
00:04:00

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Emilie Tiersen, Composer, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

13
Erc'h (Portrait Version)
00:07:39

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Ólavur Jákupsson, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

14
The Wire (Portrait Version)
00:03:29

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

15
The Waltz Of The Monsters (Portrait Version)
00:02:07

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

16
Closer (Portrait Version)
00:03:55

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Blonde Redhead, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

17
Naval (Portrait Version)
00:04:23

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

18
The Jetty (Portrait Version)
00:01:03

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

19
Koad (Portrait Version)
00:05:09

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Ólavur Jákupsson, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

20
Prayer No. 2 (Portrait Version)
00:03:00

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

21
Grønjørd (Portrait Version)
00:02:47

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Ólavur Jákupsson, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

22
Kala (Portrait Version)
00:02:48

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Ólavur Jákupsson, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

23
Comptine d'Un Autre Été (L'Après-Midi) (Portrait Version)
00:02:17

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

24
Tempelhof, Pt. 2 (Portrait Version)
00:00:58

Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

25
Thinking Like A Mountain (Portrait Version)
00:06:25

John Grant, Featured Artist - Yann Tiersen, Composer, Main Artist - Stephen O'Malley, Featured Artist

2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd. 2019 Everything's Calm exclusive license to Mute Artists Ltd.

Album Description

On Portrait, Yann Tiersen celebrates his multi-decade, multi-genre career by bringing it full circle. Instead of just gathering the best-known songs from his discography, he emphasizes the classical training that he rebelled against as a youth and the French folk and chanson roots of his music by reinterpreting pieces from albums spanning 1995's Valse des Monstres to 2019's ALL. If Portrait's somber mood, grand scope, and numerous collaborations bear a close resemblance to the latter album, there's a good reason: Tiersen came up with the idea to reimagine his entire body of work with this collection during the rehearsals for the ALL tour. The hushed but majestic atmosphere of that album is especially prominent on "Grønjørd," originally from 2014's ∞ (Infinity), a major influence on his subsequent work. The delicately urgent, piano-based instrumentals of 2016's Eusa also cast a long shadow over Portrait, and "Porz Goret"'s darkly winding melody is just as lovely here as it was before. The way Tiersen strips away the whimsical touches of his early albums might be jarring to fans who fell in love with his sound via the Amélie soundtrack, but it helps unify his music as a whole. "La Dispute," one of the songs immortalized and romanticized by the film, is reimagined as a duel/duet between accordion and piano that underscores its theme of conflict. On the other hand, Portrait's version of "Comptine d'un Autre Été (L'Après-Midi)" adds more warmth and melancholy to one of the composer's most famous melodies. Fortunately, Tiersen doesn't strip his music down too much. The musical saw on "Pell" is a ghostly acknowledgment of his love of unexpected instrumentation, while the toy piano that was a staple of his earliest work makes a charming, if slightly sinister, return on "Waltz of the Monsters" and stands in for a carillon on "Prayer No. 2." The bracing harpsichord on "The Jetty" makes it impressive and a little imposing, a feeling that's reinforced by the heavy guitar textures (courtesy of Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley) on "Prad" and "Introductory Movement." Here and on the tracks with vocals, Tiersen tempers Portrait's frequently contemplative tone. Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys helps reinvent "Monochrome," Tiersen's first hit in his native France, by giving it a weary heft reflecting all the years since it originally appeared. Two of the retrospective's brand-new pieces are among its finest: "Closer" unites Tiersen's fluttering piano with Blonde Redhead's breathy vocals in a collaboration that balances the deeply romantic sides of both artists' work perfectly. On the striking final track, "Thinking Like a Mountain," Tiersen meditates on the natural harmony between danger and safety with the help of O'Malley, Melanie Knott, and John Grant, who recite excerpts of ecologist Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac over soaring strings and feral, panting backing vocals. It's a fitting end to Portrait, which balances the adventurous and traditional sides of Tiersen's music in a way that honors the sense of wonder and beauty in his work since the beginning.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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