Live: Yann Tiersen Gets Playful at Irving Plaza

Yann Tiersen
Irving Plaza
Friday, April 27

Better than: Most of the Philip Glass and Stephin Merritt music I’ve heard.

Skylinef, Yann Tiersen’s seventh studio album, is only the second album of his current deal with Anti- and, like 2010’s Dust Lane, it pioneers sonic territory structurally different from the old-fashioned chansons that have been on heavy rotation in downtown Manhattan bistros for months. Gone are the sparse, folk-inflected dreamscapes people remember from 2005’s Les Retrouvailles or the twin 2001 releases of L’Absente and Yann’s score to the French film Amélie. Fewer acoustic instruments appear, and those that do are distorted or displaced by vintage synthesizer textures. Instead he gives us propulsive drums and wailing guitars hot enough to rival early Roxy Music. Continue reading “Live: Yann Tiersen Gets Playful at Irving Plaza”

Dreaming in Black and White

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
Doubleday, 2011, $26.95, 384 pages

Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is the best first novel I’ve read since William Gibson’s Neuromancer. And although it’s a dark metaphysical fantasy set on the cusp of the 1900s, while Gibson’s book was near-future science fiction that foretold the rise (and mixed results) of a commercialized Internet, they share an intensely evocative and visual style of writing that makes the imaginary worlds they create unforgettably vivid and provocative. Continue reading “Dreaming in Black and White”