There have been many splendid music reviews in Counsel magazine over the years, but some readers may feel that electronic music has been under-reported. After all, there’s a whole genre of electronic music commonly referred to as ‘IDM’ (intelligent dance music) which seems to me to be perfectly suited to barristers – you can listen from the comfort and safety of your own armchair or headphones without needing to venture anywhere near a sweaty nightclub, underground car park or open field (and if these venues mean anything to you, there’s enough content in IDM for you to relive your ever so slightly mis-spent youth). Anyway, let this review go some way to setting the record straight.

You will probably have heard Yann Tiersen’s music, even if you don’t know his name, from the soundtrack to the film Amélie. If you wish to hear more of his gentle, lyrical soundtracks, on no account should you buy the album somewhat improbably named 11 5 18 2 5 18. If, on the other hand, you are intrigued by the notion of electronic music with analogue warmth and depth – music to engage the head and the heart together – then jump right in.

Yann Tiersen lives off the Brittany coast on the tiny island of Ushant, which may well inform his musical mindset – independent, largely unmoved by the mainstream currents around him. He is a very talented multi-instrumentalist, pursuing a single-minded but fascinating musical journey. His album 11 5 18 2 5 18 makes heavy use of modular synths and, to my ears, contains electronic music with true analogue soul, something I confirmed for myself when I saw him live at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm in September 2022. During that show, to my surprise, the audience thinned out as anyone who had expected gentle piano music left disappointed – more fool them, though I’m told the London audience was more forgiving than elsewhere in Europe. Tiersen creates songs, not just compositions, something which I think he shares with Jon Hopkins and Boards of Canada, two of my other personal electronic favourites. There are beats for sure – sometimes soft, stuttering glitches, and sometimes pounding beats as on 16 1 12 5 19 20 9 14 5, which will hit you in the chest and may induce in you a deep-seated desire to dance haphazardly round your kitchen. Equally there are moments of real tenderness – try 13 1 18 25 (6 5 1 20. 17 21 9 14 17 21 9 19), the closing song on the album, in which Yann’s wife Emilie (who performs independently under the name Quinquis) sings over gentle, building arpeggiated synths. At its peaks, as on 16 1 12 5 19 20 9 14 5, beats and beauty combine with real emotion – when I heard this album performed live, there may have been (as they say) a bit of dust in the air...

The words ‘electronic music’ may induce any one of a number of reactions in readers of Counsel, from disdain to perplexity to intrigue. I asked Tiersen’s live sound engineer why barristers should listen to this album – his reply was that it’s ‘clever music for clever people’. I think I’d qualify that – it’s engaging music for curious people; digital music with a human soul. So, if you listen to one electronic album this year, let it be this one. I challenge you to experience it and not feel even remotely moved by it. Just don’t expect Amélie