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Les ondes silencieuses

Colleen

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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

Cécile Schott, from France, made her debut as Colleen with 2003's Everyone Alive Wants Answers. Released in 2003 on England's Leaf label, its dreamy and ambient but melodic material was based around heavily treated samples from her record collection. The album's reception led to performances, but she found herself uninterested in relying strictly on a laptop, so she incorporated instruments and effects, in addition to loops. As a result, 2005's The Golden Morning Breaks took on an organic sound relative...
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Les ondes silencieuses, Colleen
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