FatCat Records

A bilingual gem of an album, Excerpts is the latest offering from Montreal-based songwriter and composer, Olivier Alary, the man behind Ensemble. Alary’s previous work includes collaborations with Cat Power and Björk; he has also composed music for exhibitions at the V&A, as well as providing soundtracks for a number of feature films and documentaries.

A touching collection, the tracks combine beautiful strings with nostalgic vocals and layered orchestration along with traditional waltz forms evoke romantic visions of France. Alary utilises modern techniques alongside more classical forms and Darcy Conroy’s heart-breaking vocals in November 22nd are punctuated by ambulance sirens to devastating effect.

Excerpts balances cautiously between insouciance and melancholy, with more than a hint of the sublime. Each track embraces the listener completely and En Attendant L’Orage is reminiscent of the uplifting delicacy exhibited by Karen O and the Kids in the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack, with distant muffled drums and soaring riffs. A soft and beautiful album. www.ensemble-home.com

Bryony Byrne