The name Yann Tiersen generally conjures up typically French imagery, thanks mainly to his widely celebrated soundtrack to the film Amelie. His chirpy harpsichord conjured up scenes of a Parisian café in winter and that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ Paris seems to possess. There was life before Amelie, of course – quite a bit, in fact. Tiersen had already released three albums by then and dropped a fourth around the same time. Dust Lane is Tiersen’s sixth studio release and he’s come a long way from the soundtrack for which he is so well known.
In his 40s now and calling himself an ‘avant-garde’ artist, Tiersen is certainly flexing his musical muscles on Dust Lane. The album is huge; there is no better way to describe it. He employs a vast array of instuments, beautifully arranged and presented. ‘Till the End’ is probably the best example of the album’s fine production qualities, while also being its highlight, and songs such as ‘Palestine’ not only show his willingness to experiment with sound but also his skill as a composer.
The album certainly is not avant-garde. It is, however, a great example of Tiersen’s talents and, at times, unusual approach to structure. Do not expect Amelie – there are no hints of berets or onion soup here. Do expect an excellent album from a relatively underrated artist, though.