Yann Tiersen’s curious wall of sound

Post Author: Jeni Pandolfi

In which the composer best known for his Amélie soundtrack paired himself fittingly with Asobi Seksu.

Okay—it was a little surprising to hear that Brooklyn shoegaze contingent Asobi Seksu was heading out on tour with French composer Yann Tiersen, whose best-known album remains, to this day, the Amélie soundtrack.

Asobi Seksu’s petite chanteuse Yuki Chikudate must feel a similar sense of bewilderment; when we caught her outside the concert hall after her set to ask how the two groups got hooked up, she just shrugged. “He saw us play a show in Paris a couple of months ago, and asked us to tour with him.”
Wait, we said—Yann Tiersen came to your show? “Yeah!” she exclaimed, as if the next thing out of her mouth might be “Crazy, right?”

Truth be told, though, the lineup looks a lot more dissonant on the bill than it does onstage; heard live, Tiersen’s solo music meshes surprisingly well with Asobi’s dreamlike wall of sound. Both occupy the same shoegaze borderland between rock and noise music, and both are capable of fitting ear-splitting sonic meltdowns and sweet, sonorous serenades into the same set. Save for an unaccompanied violin piece here or there, Yann’s performance bore very little similarity to the Amélie soundtrack.

This is a fact that may or may not have offended the legions of middle-aged and European fans who came out to see him play (Tiersen seems to be Europe’s answer to Mark Mothersbaugh). Several motherly-looking types could be seen exiting the venue during the louder songs; and, in the smoking area outside, one hipsterish Catalanian woman exclaimed, “We thought there would be chairs!” Strangely, so did we.