‘Ker al Loch’ Sets the Scene for Yann Tiersen’s New Album, ‘Kerber’: A Beautifully Textured, Highly Immersive and Thoughtfully Constructed Electronic World to Step Inside Of
A sense of place has often been a central theme in Yann Tiersen’s work and on his newly announced album Kerber, this is no different. The album is eponymously named after a chapel in a small village on the island of Ushant where Yann lives, located 30 kilometres off the West coast of Brittany in the Celtic Sea. Each track on Kerber is tied to a place mapping out the immediate landscape that surrounds Tiersen’s home. Today, he previews the album with one of those compositions, entitled ‘Ker al Loch’, on which Tiersen’s gently played piano keys accumulates to a full-on sensory assault as pulsating electronics cloak the song.
On the track’s hypnotic visual, director Sam Wiehl (Mogwai, Forest Swords) explains, “Using the abstracted geographical imagery created by Katy Ann Gilmore [the artist behind the album’s artwork] as a starting point, and further referencing the coastline of Ushant and the natural world, we created imagery (ranging from fantastical re-imagines of landscape, seas and atmospheric conditions to the processes in microbiology and chemical reaction) to capture the beauty and scale of Tiersen’s composition.”
While Yann Tiersen has previously used field recordings to cement the sense of place and location as a theme in his work, this time he wanted the music to have its own symbiotic relationship with itself. “With field recordings, you use them to build a relationship with the tracks to create something new,” he says. “But on this album, the idea is just to do that with electronics – to build everything around that and to create a sense of interaction. For it to be its own ecosystem.”
Working in The Eskal, the studio he built on Ushant, Tiersen’s process for the album’s recording was particularly involved. After spending the spring writing the piano parts, he went on to spend that summer meticulously creating a sample bank for the Elektron Octatrack using these parts as inspiration, following the chord progressions, playing them on instruments such as the Ondes Martenot, mellotron, and harpsichord. These were then subsequently transformed, reshaped, and processed. What then followed, with producer Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Einstürzende Neubauten), was three weeks of working with electronics, sampling, re-sampling, and processing sounds to create an engulfing soundscape where the tender tones of piano keys merge with gently pulsing electronics and an intense ambient milieu.
…the piano was a precursor to create something for the electronics to work around.
Kerber is both an evolution of what has come before, as well as a new space to explore. On the new album, the piano is the source, but electronics are the environment that they exist within. Tiersen explains, “You may get this intuitive thinking of, ‘oh it’s piano stuff’, but actually it’s not. I worked on piano tracks to begin with but that’s not the core of it, they are not important. The context is the most important thing – the piano was a precursor to create something for the electronics to work around.”
The follow-up to 2019’s Portrait (a collection of 25 newly recorded tracks from throughout his career), Kerber is very much a new chapter in the Breton artist’s work, one that begins with his most overtly electronic material to date. Kerber is set for release on Mute on August 27th, 2021, and is available to pre-order now as a deluxe limited clear vinyl edition with unique artwork, in a PVC sleeve (1000 available worldwide), limited edition white vinyl with a poster, and black vinyl (all come with high definition audio download) as well as on CD and digitally. The release will be preceded by a book of sheet music on July 20th. Exclusively published by Hal Leonard, the folio will feature all seven pieces presented for solo piano, with preface by Tiersen. He is planning a live event to be broadcast worldwide from Ushant (with extensive touring to follow).
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