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Friday, November 12

Yann Tiersen

Charlie Cunningham

6:30 pm doors, 8 pm show

All ages welcome

$35 Advance, $40 day of show, $40 Advance 21+ Reserved Balcony, $50 day of show 21+ Reserved Balcony

Yann Tiersen

"I think there is a similarity between the infinite big and the infinite smallness of everything,"says Yann Tiersen. "It's the same experiment looking through a microscope as it is a telescope."

This exploration of the micro and the macro has permeated through much of Tiersen's career, as an artist capable of vast expansiveness as often as he is intricate detail. This multifaceted approach can be heard in the stirring piano minimalism of 2016's EUSA, to the full band intensityof albums such as Infinityand Skyline-not to mention earlier albums such as Le Phare, filled with idiosyncratic compositions and a variety of textures.

However, Tiersen is not one to stick to a formula. For him,context is everything and the context keeps changing. When he revisited his own back catalogue on 2019's Portrait, this was not an exercise in nostalgia, rehashing past glories or an attempt to repeat previous ways of working. It was about re-contextualising his own work. "The purpose of revisiting and playing live some of my previous stuff was to gather a snapshot of what I've done and then move to something else and start again,"he says. "It's good to have an endpoint and a sense of reconciliation. The goal was to put everything back in context."

With that chapter now behind him, Kerberis very much a new one in Tiersen's career. One that begins with his most overtly electronic material to date. However, 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. Iworked 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 gentlypulsing electronics and an intense ambient milieu. "You get the acoustics of the studio in there as well,"he says. "So it's good that you have this mixture that comes from having electronic stuff in a big space."

The opening ‘Kerlann' is a masterclass in subtlety and restraint, as piercing piano keys merge with swirling soundscapes, whereas songs such as ‘KeralLoch', with added Roland CR-78 drum machine, build up from gently played piano keys to a full on sensory assault as pulsating and gargling electronics cloak the song. There is a clear tonal coherence to the album but also one that remains impossible to predict where it may go next. Tiersen took a lot from the creative process. "I had a really amazing time messing around with my modular system,getting really technical"he says,"That was more of an inspiration than anything else. It was sort of a meditation diving into all the geeky technical stuff."

A sense of place has often been a central theme in Tiersen's work and here that is no different. EUSAis the Breton name for Ushant and this album is also connected to the place Tiersen calls home. Kerberis named after a chapel in a small village on the island and being further influenced by the close geographical area around him, each track is tied to a place mapping out the immediate landscape that surrounds Tiersen's home. Which links back to Tiersen's comments about the possibilities of the infinite smallness. "I've become more and more obsessed with location,"he says.

It might be easy to picture Tiersen on a small island during a pandemic and imagine this as an exploration of isolation but this is much more an expression of being conscious of your own direct environment and your place within it -a sonic encapsulation of the hyper-local.For Tiersen this approach extracts the same degree of profundity as spending the evening studying the stars -which he himself does. "You can look at things that are thousands of light years away and relate your own existence to this really cosmic element,"he says. "But you get that same feeling with the things all around you."

However, whereas 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 asense of interaction. For it to be its own ecosystem."

Charlie Cunningham

Charlie Cunningham may not intentionally have meant the title track of his mostrecent album ‘Permanent Way' to resemble a manifesto for personal and creativefreedom, but the words ‘You can do what you want / But I'm making my own way in,'speaks volumesfor the way he's gone about his music.

Charlie has relentlessly pursued his art at the expense of more potentially stablevocations, including moving to the flamenco stronghold of southern Spain for overtwo years. Once back in Britain, a string of EPs quickly won over support fromSpotify, before the increasingly dexterous instrumental and songwriting craft behindhis 2017 album debut Lines illuminated -rather than contained -the man's intimate,raw, haunting sound, etched by Charlie's gorgeously expressive vocal andthe dramatic thrum of his nylon-stringed guitar.

Then came the stunning Permanent Way, his first album on Infectious/BMG, whichlaughed in the face of ‘difficult second album' syndrome and ‘acoustic-singersongwriter'imagery with boosted colours and dynamics, while retaining the essenceof the man's personable appeal.

"It was important for Lines to be kept simple," Charlie explains. "It was my first albumand I wanted the songs to be able to stand up, without too many bells and whistles. Idid also want to eventually make an album like Permanent Way though, and therelative success of Lines meant that I could". Given its subtle synth enhancements,Lines wasn't simply one man and his guitar, though Charlie made the album alone,aided by producer Duncan Tootill.

Permanent Way is more of a team effort: Tootill returned to co-produce (while addingpiano and synth) but the album was predominantly put together alongsideproducer/engineer Sam Scott (who also adds brass and keyboards andpercussion). Friends Ben Daniel (bass, guitar, backing vocals), Will Gates (drums)and Liam Hutton (drums) complete the majority of the backing, while Daniel Thorne(Erased Tapes) orchestrated ‘Monster' and ‘Stuck' (played by Immix Ensemble).Charlie also flew to LAfor a session with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The XX, KingKrule), adding ‘Don't Go Far, ‘Bite' and ‘Force of Habit' to the finished record. SaysCharlie, "I had a good thing going with Duncan, so it made sense to try and continuewhere we left off, plus he is a great synth player and he really brings a lot to the tableon the electronic side of things. Rodaidh has a really unique ear for sonics andpushed me to move out of my comfort zone, definitely for the better. Sam and I thenset about pulling it alltogether and making it cohesive".

The fact a bigger label and ‘name' producer didn't affect Charlie's sound and visionshowed he'd continued to make his own way in. Similarly, over 300m Spotify playshas been reached with little social-media interaction or profile-raising appearances inhis promo videos. "I'm quite a private person outside of performing" he admits."There is some autobiographical stuff in the lyrics, but it flits in and out quite a lot; it'smuch more about people generally and their interactions."


Permanent Way documents life's uncertainties: the need for intimacy and love, butalso space and independence. In ‘Don't Go Far', the narrator is conflicted, tellingsomeone, ‘I don't want to know, I suppose, where you are, but don't go far' WhatCharlie calls "the slightly ominous guitar line" of ‘Sink In' inspired a tale of ambiguouspersuasion. The genesis of ‘Headlights' was the downbeat ‘You don't even enter mythoughts'.

Sometimes bleakness descends. ‘Monster' details how people "aren't connecting inthe same way anymore and are easily distracted". The classic production style ofartists like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday inspired the "dusty, smoky, lounge-ysound" of ‘Hundred Times', a melancholic tale of resignation, ‘Bite' feels darker,concerning addiction and enablers. ‘Force of Habit', which builds to a gripping,insistent coda, is as Charlie says, "also looking at some of people's morecomplicated traits".

The exquisite, fragile album finale ‘Stuck' is suitably, for the most part, just Charlie'svoice and guitar, and perhaps a song that leans more towards the straight forwardlyautobiographical, about, "being stuck in your head, or stuck for words.''Asked about his musical tastes... "They've always been pretty varied, I'm from a bigfamily and everyone was always listening to different types of music, and I'vecontinued to be a bit that way". Charlie cites The Beatles as a strong influence (aged11, he saw a documentary, then asked for their Anthology box set for Christmas).Aneighbour gave him his first guitar, aged 13. Radiohead's Ok Computer came out thesame year; "that made a big impact". As he kept learning, his tastes evolved,from the brutal sounds of Converge and Botch to hardcore icons Fugazi to the moreexpansive Mogwai, and the ambience of Brian Eno and early Aphex twin. Whilstcontinuing to be drawn to the acoustic singer-songwriter styles of artists like JohnMartyn, Nick Drake and Paul Simon.To push himself harder, and further, he moved to Seville, initially for two months. "Iended up staying for two and a half years. Then, when I got home to England, Imanaged to get some regular work, playing guitar in bars and pubs around theplace, making some kind of living through music. That's when I picked up songwritingagain."

2014's debut EP Outside Things was enough to immediately attract a Next Hypeplay on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show and a BBC Introducing slot at The Great Escape.Following a second EP, Breather (2015), the Swedish label Dumont Dumontreleased Charlie's third EP, Heights (2016) and Lines (2017). Then came PermanentWay on Infectious/BMG (2019). Alone or accompanied, accentuating the guitar, thesongs and the arrangements, the only permanent way for Charlie seems to beforward. Making his own way in.