“This podcast is called “Porous Music”. It’s a selection of pieces that are blurring the boundaries of the genre they belong to. This selection ranges from musical sound art, fake ethnographic documents, art-pop to baroque and mystic minimalism.” ~ Olivier Alary
Montreal-based Frenchman Olivier Alary is a highly talented composer, who has previously collaborated with Bjork. Having released albums on FatCat and Aphex Twin’s Rephlex label under the lushly-orchestrated, experimental pop guise of Ensemble, over the past five or six years Olivier has moved away from that song-based project to focus on composing material for a stream of films and artistic collaborations. In June 2016 Olivier signed to 130701, and this album – a compilation of film soundtrack work – marks his debut under his own name.
Olivier completed a degree in architecture in the late ’90s, then moved from his native Toulouse to London to study electro-acoustic composition at Middlesex University (specialising in algorithmic composition and programming) and begin a musical career. Initially working under the name Hearing Is Our Concern, he was one of the first people FatCat ever received a demo from. We talked for a while about a release, but in the end nothing happened. In ’98, the name was changed to Ensemble and a first album, ‘Sketch Proposals’, was released on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex label in 2000.
“Sits somewhere among the likes of Jóhann Jóhannsson, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Stars Of The Lid, and Set Fire To Flames; but throughout the tracks are imprinted with Olivier’s own sound. This might be defined in the composer’s obsessive exploration of the “grey areas” between noise and musicality and in blurring the boundaries between what is acoustic and what is generated electronically.” ~ XLR8R
The record gained a small, dedicated audience, including Björk, who was impressed enough to draft Olivier in to work with her. In 2002, Ensemble’s remixes of Bjork’s ‘Sun In My Mouth’ and ‘Cocoon’ were released as b-sides. Olivier then co-wrote ‘Desired Constellation’ on Björk’s 2004 album ‘Medulla’, and more remixes on her ‘Triumph of a Heart’ single.
In 2006, an eponymous follow-up to ‘Sketch Proposals’ was released on FatCat, featuring vocals by Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr.), with arrangements by Johannes Malfatti – who also contributes on this record – performed by the Babelsberg Film Orchestra. In 2007, Olivier contributed a remix on The Twilight Sad’s ‘And She Would Darken The Memory’, and in 2010, a final Ensemble album ‘Excerpts’ was released, again on FatCat.
“Enchanting… a notable arthouse film composer whose gentle touch and pastoral palette often evokes the cosy drama of Wim Mertens… an accomplished producer capable of conjuring a vast range of emotions” ~ Uncut
Olivier Alary ‘Fiction / Non-Fiction’ — Release date: 17th March 2017 – Format: LP / CD / Digital
‘Fiction / Non-Fiction’ opens with two tracks lifted from the soundtrack of Yung’s Chang ‘China Heavyweight’, a documentary about boxing, which won the prestigious Golden Horse Award (the Chinese equivalent of an Oscar) in 2012. Both tracks were recorded by David Bryant (of Godspeed you black emperor! and fellow 130701 act, Set Fire to Flames) at The Pines, Montreal. Maintaining the Godspeed connection, ‘Flooding’ , ‘Canon’ and ‘Yu Shui’ were recorded by Howard Bilerman at Godspeed’s Hotel 2 Tango studio in Montreal. These three tracks come from ‘Up the Yangtze’, Chang’s documentary debut.
“You may not have come across many of the films… but this should not belittle the work, which seems to flow effortlessly from spare to complicated orchestral set-ups… this is interesting modern work” ~ Record Collector
This award-winning film follows a family as their home is destroyed by the rising waters of China’s Yangtze River – a consequence of the Three Gorges Project, the largest hydroelectric dam in history. Elsewhere, ‘Dancing Bottle’ and ‘Autodrome’ come from the ‘Jo pour Jonathan’, which was directed by Maxime Giroux and represented Canada at the 2015 Oscars. Whilst ‘Epilogue’ and ‘Forêt’ are taken from Mathieu Denis’ ‘Corbo’ which, based on a true story, follows the last months in the life of 16 year-old Jean Corbo, the privileged but socially alienated son of a wealthy Italian-Canadian businessman, who became radicalized after a chance meeting with two young activists and died in a 1966 Quebec Liberation Front bombing.
‘Fiction / Non-Fiction’ will be available on vinyl, CD and digital formats. The CD and digital versions will contain 4 bonus tracksunavailable on LP. A full length of brand new recordings is planned to follow on in the second half of 2017.