From the composer that scored Amélie comes a new instrumental track just as disarming and graceful. For those who may not be aware, Amélie is a French film with one of the most successful and critically acclaimed soundtracks of the 21st century. The soundtrack was scored by Yann Tiersen, a French composer who was virtually unknown until the film’s release in 2001. At the time, Amélie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet stumbled upon Tiersen when his production assistant played a CD from Tiersen’s demo catalog during a long car ride. Fast forward 18 years and Tiersen is now a world-renowned songwriter highly sought after for his abilities as a composer and as a musician.
Though he now has 16 albums, 3 studio soundtracks, and over 20 years of composing experience to his name, Tiersen’s new single “Tempelhof” is one of his best. It opens with the sequestered echos of children laughing and playing. These field samples are taken from Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, an old airfield from WWII that was converted into Germany’s largest refugee shelter. The children laughing and playing represent a stainless innocence within a former space of wickedness. These kids are displaced from their homes in a land where foreigners were once persecuted for their differences, yet they emit feelings of safety and sensitivity that render listeners completely defenseless before Tiersen drops a single finger to the keys.
“Tempelhof” is serene, broken, sad, and freeing, as if to point out the scars these refugees and the memories of WWII carry with them. The peaceful, balletic, and altogether stunning piano suspends restlessness in an eye-opening display of instrumental beauty. It’s as if to say those apparent scars aren’t merely showcasing the world’s wounds, but rather serving as reminders that we’re lucky to exist.
The conclusion to “Tempelhof” is surprisingly damning. Electric guitars, earsplitting synths, and indistinct buzzing noises claw at the listener’s ear to eradicate any long-term feeling of composure that the restful piano may have hinted at minutes earlier. Although Tiersen illustrated the world’s juxtaposed beauty, he wants to prevent naive assurance in the wake of impending hardships that future inherently brings with it.