Yann Tiersen has announced details of a new album and shared a taste of what to expect with the first track, ‘Ker al Loch’. The new album, Kerber, is set for release on Mute on August 27 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 first single sets the scene for the album – ‘Ker al Loch’ builds up from Tiersen’s gently played piano keys to a full on sensory assault as pulsating electronics cloak the song. The accompanying video was directed by Sam Wiehl (Mogwai, Forest Swords).
Weihl 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 coast line of Ushant and the natural world, we created imagery (ranging from fantastical re-imagines of landscape, seas and atmospheric conditions to the processes in micro biology and chemical reaction) to capture the beauty and scale of Tiersen’s composition.”
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. True to Tiersen’s nuanced and subtle approach, this isn’t a U-turn-like thumping piece of dance music but instead a beautifully textured, highly immersive and thoughtfully constructed electronic world to step inside of.
It 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.”
Working in The Eskal, the studio he built on Ushant (the island where he lives, located 30 kilometres off the West coast of Brittany in the Celtic Sea), 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.
A sense of place has often been a central theme in Tiersen’s work and here that is no different. Kerber is named after a chapel in a small village on the island and each track is tied to a place mapping out the immediate landscape that surrounds Tiersen’s home.
Yann Tiersen is planning a live event to be broadcast worldwide from Ushant (with extensive touring to follow) and the island is further represented on the graphic artwork by LA-based artist, Katy Ann Gilmore who explains, “Also inspired by landscape, I’m drawn to simple, repeated elements to convey the idea of depth and perspective. I think about lines receding to infinity, and how that helps build up the world around us. Using maps of locations indicated by Yann, I traced shorelines, fences, and other place markers that tie to the specific tracks. I then used these marks to build up shapes that inhabit a new geography as they move through space towards infinity.”
Kerber’s release will be preceded by a book of sheet music on July 20. Exclusively published by Hal Leonard, the folio will feature all seven pieces presented for Solo Piano, with preface by Tiersen.