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Les ondes silencieuses

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Album Review

Cécile Schott, aka Colleen, takes another step in her articulation of lost sounds involving classical instruments on Les Ondes Silencieuses (literal translation: The Silent Waves). The music box doesn't make an appearances here; instead, she experiments with viola da gamba, classical guitar, clarinet, a spinet (which sounds a great deal like a harpsichord), and crystal glass — and, of course, combinations of all of them. Tape and digital manipulation present on other recordings is all but absent here, replaced instead by overdubbing in places. Instead, these small pieces are reflected as small melodies, constructed, offered, and simply vanishing into silence. "Sun Against My Eyes," with its spare clarinet (sometimes overdubbed) played against the opening bowed strings of the viola da gamba and supported by a classical guitar playing a simple three-chord fingerpicked melody, is among the finer moments on the album. The sheer ghost textures of the viola on the title cut, as they state a single line of few notes with pregnant pauses between, is haunting, melancholy, and otherworldly — especially since Schott's intonation is off just a tad. "Sea of Tranquillity" begins sparsely enough, as a classical guitar is strummed in the higher register to begin a repetitive and hypnotic swirl even as its other strings (dubbed, of course) are played like a harp but within a limited harmonic range, with a clarinet entering just long enough to create a counterpoint melody, very slowly and languidly. This has little of the sunshine felt on Golden Morning Breaks. Instead, as its cover — which suggests the work of Aubrey Beardsley — reflects stark black-and-white contrast, the music here falls in between to unite them. It is full of shades of gray, very expressive within limited, even restrained frameworks, bringing beauty into the depths and from them.

Biography

Born: France

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Combining loops, samples, and eclectic acoustic instruments into dreamily experimental pop, Colleen is the project of French producer/multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Cécile Schott. A former English teacher, she began making music in 2001, when a friend gave her a disc of free music production software. As she pieced together found sounds and samples from her own music collection as well as that of Paris Mediatheques' library, Colleen was born. Schott's debut album, Everyone Alive Wants Answers, arrived...
Full bio
Les ondes silencieuses, Colleen
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