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Album Review: Yann Tiersen - Skyline

1 May 2012 | 3:08 pm | Sarah Scaife

A milestone not only for Tiersen’s career, but for music as a whole.

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Best known for his superlative soundtrack for Amelie, Yann Tiersen is slowly teaching us that his compositional talentd are even more diverse than originally indicated. The first song on Skyline, Another Shore, is safely familiar, beginning on an ethereal note and slowly progressing into a passionate instrumental rock track. Immediately we remember Tiersen's elusive knack for conveying a message or evoking emotion without the slightest hint of lyrics. Merely through the placement of certain sounds and the arrangement of certain chords, Tiersen can tell you what to feel. Thus, when vocals are introduced in the second track, they feel more like a special treat than a crucial ingredient.

Although the album is distinctly less French than his past works, there are underlying traces of his homeland throughout songs like Monuments, Hesitation Wound and Forgive Me. Despite this, there is still a darkness to Skyline that makes it distinctly Tiersen, particularly towards the middle of the album. The Gutter is sinister and overpowering, despite the sweet female vocals, with sounds of dogs barking and a French radio station, while Exist 25 Block 20 sounds like a horror film with its brutal screams, eerie whispers and slight detection of spoken word. One thing is certain, Tiersen is unafraid of any musical instrument, no matter what shape, size or sound. You name it, he's used it – and probably without any help.

Once the crescendo of the album passes, the tracks seem to calm down. In fact, Skyline balances nicely, beginning and ending on instrumental tracks, as though cushioning the blow of the album's core. A milestone not only for Tiersen's career, but for music as a whole.