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Alternative & Indie - Released December 12, 2018 | Mute

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All

Alternative & Indie - Released February 15, 2019 | Mute

With ALL, Yann Tiersen continues the celebration of special places and the feelings they evoke that was the focus of 2014's ∞ (Infinity) and 2016's Eusa. On the former album, he explored Iceland and the Faroe Islands; on the latter, he paid tribute to his home base of Ushant, an island between Brittany and Cornwall. This time, Tiersen explores the beauty of the world around us -- and humanity's inescapable connection to it -- with results that blend ∞ (Infinity)'s epic beauty with Eusa's intimacy. ALL's creative process was a similar combination of grand and small: Tiersen recorded the majority of the album in the Eskal -- a studio, performance, and community center in Ushant -- but also incorporated field recordings from Germany, England, and California and collaborated with vocalists from Sweden and Iceland as well as his home base, most of whom sing in Breton. These diverse elements come together to reinforce the overarching emotionality of his music. The tender piano melody at the heart of "Tempelhof" is pure Tiersen, as is the bittersweet violin counterpoint of the brief but powerful "Usal Road," a piece inspired by the California road where he was chased by a mountain lion in 2014. With pieces like this one, the beautiful meditation of "Koad (Wood)" (which features Anna von Hausswolff), and the birdsong woven through nearly every track, ALL may be even more overt in its love of nature than the two albums that came before it. In the album's midsection, its interconnectedness reaches nearly mystical levels that encompass nature's radiance on "Heol (Sun)," its shadows on "Gwennilied (Swallows)," and suggest a love that conquers time and space on the ethereal "Pell (Far)." An uplifting, planet-sized embrace, ALL is another triumph for Tiersen. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 30, 2016 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 19, 2014 | Mute

Even if he hadn't created some of the most vivid film music of the 20th and 21st centuries, Yann Tiersen's music would probably be called "filmic." In both his scores and stand-alone albums, the artful way he blends his flair for atmosphere with memorable melodies and instrumentation lends itself to vivid storytelling, something he explores beautifully on his eighth album ∞ (Infinity). Largely recorded in Iceland and inspired by that country as well as the Faroe Islands, much of the album evokes Nordic post-rock while reflecting Tiersen's distinctive touch. "Slippery Stones" and "In Our Minds" echo Múm's ability to sound anthemic, childlike, and dark at the same time. The brassy "Grønjørð" features Tiersen's bandmate Ólavur Jákupsson singing the praises of the Faroe Islands' verdant and volcanic landscape in his native Faroese. "A Midsummer Evening" harnesses Tiersen's fondness for toy instruments into widescreen orchestral psych-rock that captures the surreal joyousness of a long dusk and balmy night. All of this makes ∞ (Infinity) a more cohesive set than its predecessor Skyline. Tiersen expertly uses the album's united motifs and instrumentation to contrast its expansive sounds, such as the title track's sweeping drones, and intimate lyrics like "The Crossing"'s "just hold my hand." Stories are woven through the songs in unexpected ways: "Steinn" and "Ar Maen Bihan" tell the same hypnotic tale of nature and circularity in Icelandic and Tiersen's native Breton, respectively. However, he saves ∞ (Infinity)'s most impressive storytelling for last: "Meteorites," a collaboration with Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat, explores love's intimacy and vastness, moving from merging cells to soaring through the universe. Moffat's burr brings a frankness to lyrics like "this is our rom-com" and gives voice to all the heartbroken, searching, and joyous moods dancing through Tiersen's music over the years. A movie unto itself, "Meteorites" might wink at Tiersen's status as a composer for film, but it's too exquisite to be a joke; it elevates what was already a strong collection into some of his best work. Given its all-encompassing title, it's fitting that ∞ (Infinity) is one of Tiersen's most ambitious albums, but its grand scale only magnifies his music's heartfelt beauty. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 30, 2016 | Mute

After the far-flung travels of ∞(Infinity) took him to Iceland and the Faroe Islands, Yann Tiersen returns home figuratively and literally with Eusa. Named for the Breton term for the island off the coast of Brittany where he lives, this is a back-to-basics project for Tiersen -- as basic as his work can be, that is. Conceived as a musical map of his home, Eusa began as a series of field recordings and piano compositions taken from and inspired by different locations on the island that were later issued as an album and a book of sheet music. Theoretically, one could re-create Eusa by playing the field recordings and performing the compositions, but of course Tiersen (who recorded the album at London's Abbey Road studios) brings much more to the album. As a whole, it lacks the anthemic winsomeness of the music that catapulted him to fame, but the album's simplicity lets his masterful melodies and playing shine. Tiersen holds Eusa together with a series of pieces named "Hent," which means "path" in Breton. These teasing interludes do feel like stops along the journey, from the delicate beginnings of "Hent I" to the serene sense of arrival on "Hent VIII." In between, Tiersen distills moments as well as places: "Hent III"'s somber melody, lapping waves, and bird calls conjure an overcast shoreline. The rest of Eusa flits between soothing and urgent just as nimbly. The rippling, full-bodied waltz "Pern" is quintessential Tiersen, boasting a gorgeous melody rivaled only by the sweetly nostalgic "Roc'h ar Vugale" and "Penn ar Lann," which is set aloft at the end by chirping birds and ascending chords. On "Porz Goret," "Enez Nein," and "Penn ar Roc'h," he imbues the album's longing with more insistency, but the results are just as affecting. Though he hadn't intended to record these compositions, it's a good thing that he did -- Eusa is like being invited into Tiersen's home to hear him play. Comforting but never dull, it's a reminder that the familiar can be just as inspiring as the foreign. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 14, 2018 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 31, 2019 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 16, 2018 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 12, 2018 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 28, 2018 | Mute

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 25, 2014 | Mute