Yann Tiersen's C'était Ici is a recording of three concerts performed across three nights at Paris's Cité de la Musique in the December of 2002, the second of three live albums to date. The first, Black Session, was incredibly spartan in its instrumentation. This, however, besides the usual handful of guest artists also features the 35-strong orchestral group Synaxis. It thus offers better evidence for Tiersen's scope of emotion and drama, from dense orchestral moodscapes to electronic minimalism that bursts dramatically into a chaotic freneticism.
I should not need to tell you that Tiersen is best known for his soundtrack to Amélie, or - to give it its full title - Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain. However, his repertoire is rich and varied beyond the examples presented in the film, though does demonstrate perhaps why he was best choice for the film. He has long had a fondness for an element of playfulness; I would not call it childishness in spite of the presence here and there of toy pianos, melodica, music boxes and the like.
Monochrome itself was written and sung by Dominique A. who, though I cannot comment on the majority of his works, does earn himself a few bonus points for the naming of his first band after David Lynch's Elephant Man's John Merrick (it might be more, were it not for John Merrick being a fairly dreadful name for a band). It was this song - a hit on French radio, the single release from Le Phare - that propelled Tiersen into popularity.
(An aside: My one complaint of this album, which is just a thing that I find niggling and should not be allowed to detract from the music, is that the final applause is allowed to drag on a little too far. I would much prefer to have it fade out. My appreciation of the music will not be swayed by a cacophonous din as though to remind me that others have enjoyed it before me.)
Those who enjoyed the soundtrack to Amélie will certainly find this track equally enjoyable, as it is not too far removed musically - an energetic string-led waltz (that sounds as though it were initially conceived on an accordion) with chiming arpeggios. The video is presented below.
Yann Tiersen's website
Dominique A's website (French)
Buy C'était Ici: Amazon UK | US
Buy Le Phare: Amazon UK | US