Olivier Alary has collaborated with Björk, released music on Aphex Twin's Rephlex label and scored numerous critically acclaimed films, including Yung Chang's Up The Yangtze, Lixin Fan's Last Train Home and Mathieu Denis' Corbo.
Alary's new album, Fiction / Non-Fiction, is a compilation of soundtrack work from the past five years, from several different films. The music beautifully conveys cinematic vistas and moods, and covers a wide range of sounds, from the glacial and meditative "Khaltoum," "Autodrome" and "Epilogue," to the majestic melodies of "Yu Shui," "Canon" and "Flooding," (all from Up The Yangtze) to the percussive minimalism of "Qin" and "Pulses."
Of his taste, Alary has explained that, "For me, the texture of sound is as evocative as a strong melody or harmonic progression." Certainly in film, a balancing act for composers is supporting and enhancing the story and/or visuals without distracting from them. Without the film elements to hold one's focus, this music is more free-flowing, gently massaging the edge of a listener's consciousness. One of the most fascinating pieces in this respect is "Juanicas," which shyly scratches away at silence.
Alary's got a penchant for thoughtful, delicate, melancholic mood-pieces, perfect for rainy scenes like that on the cover of this album, but while Alary's capable of writing some very beautiful material, Fiction / Non-Fiction is a bit long and — being culled from various sources — lacks the cohesion of a single vision or theme.
That's a minor critique, though: Alary's interests and tastes seem to have led to this album occupying a somewhat unique space between ambient music and neo-classical, on the cusp of one's emotions and thoughts, without much effort required for listener enjoyment. (130701)