Like almost everything in this world, music tends to be categorized and confined to a specific niche. It could be rock, rap, blues, country or R&B, but once it has its label, then the chances are that it will be locked into it going forward. It’s only natural of course; with the wealth of choices people are offered these days, it becomes the most feasible way of processing the information and providing a quick description.
On the other hand, when an artist like Yann Tiersen comes along, it’s best to dig a bit deeper. Some might be tempted to describe these shimmering soundscapes as “New Age,” given the fact that they reflect a serene pastiche, all elegiac instrumentals that combine Tiersen’s lush piano and airy violin with wordless choral passages and the ambient sounds that surface from natural environs both at home and abroad. Tiersen’s sometimes at the fore, singing with a slow chant, but on other occasions, guest vocalist provide the incantations. The results—as evidenced by such songs as “Gwennilied,” “Aom” and “Koad”—are lush, lovely and inspirational, all exquisite examples of sublime repose simulated through delicate, dreamlike designs.
ALL, the French-bred artist’s ninth album to date, is, like his earlier outings, similar in sound to a soundtrack that would accompany a documentary on the Discovery Channel, although in truth, it’s simply the manifestation of Tiersen’s love of the environs of Eusa, the island where he lives and records. His connection to nature provides the album’s central theme, and while the lyrics, such as they are, are sung in languages other than English, the meditative mood provides a tranquil tapestry throughout, all expressed within a mellow and melodic afterglow.
Ultimately, categories don’t really matter much, given the fact that these soothing and assuring tones provide an oft-needed respite from the onerous onslaught of today’s mostly dire and distressing news. Escapism is increasingly needed in these turbulent times, and with ALL, that remedy is realized.