Olivier Alary – Fiction / Non-Fiction

Olivier Alary’s compositions are draped over a misty scattering of naked trees. The season could be late autumn instead of early spring. Fiction / Non-Fiction is a collection of the composer’s film soundtrack work, which is imbued with a haunting atmosphere and a broad range of instrumentation. Accordion, saxophone, slide guitar, vibraphone, marimba, guitar, gongs, electronics, flute, double bass, clarinet and choir are all used, highlighting in marker pen a desire to give the music as full a life as possible. Remarkably, Fiction / Non-Fiction feels cohesive and surprisingly sparse when it could so easily have been cluttered.

Slightly strange melodies slowly creep outside, moving from shadows into light, limping at a slanted angle which in turn gives the record a darkly unique sound. They sway as if in the middle of a tribal dance which to outsiders appears utterly alien. For the most part, the music is balletic and somewhat downtrodden, with a weak glow that is all but ready to fizzle out. Alary brings something fresh to an overpopulated genre, with the music becoming a bronze sunflower encircled by a growing number of weeds. A deep maturity rises like smoke from its slow vapours, echoing A Winged Victory for the Sullen or Stars of the Lid, lifting it up above the common. The composer has chosen to push the music beyond, embracing possibilities with an illimitable sound like that of evolution, carrying on its back a completely engaging and captivating style unlike anything else.

A sliver of chrome light leaks out from the strings before trickling into the piano’s pool of flowing liquid. The pieces all flow as one, despite the album being labelled a collection. Its cool flavours give the album an original aftertaste. The smooth saxophone recedes into a fragile shell, becoming a paler, washed-out thing – as if it had just encountered a vampire – while its sultry colour leaks from every note, and the flute whispers over a tired breath of wind.

The Montreal-based Frenchman, who has previously collaborated with Bjork, delivers a poetic album comprised of contemplative and deeply expressive composition. Rainy thoughts splash down onto the ground, and strings are soaked in grey hues. While the differing instruments naturally add colour to the album, it’s always pale and almost absent, tertiary and not primary. Fiction / Non-Fiction has a round form and gilded edges, but its inner space is dressed in an eternal shade of grey.

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