Colleen: Mort aux vaches

In the years since the release of her 2003 debut Everyone Alive Wants Answers, Colleen (Cécile Schott) has established herself as an artist of singular musical vision, an impression this intimate September 2004 set recorded at the VPRO studios in Amsterdam won't alter. The mood permeating her Mort aux vaches performance is meditative, the playing minimal yet pregnant with emotion, and the settings poetic and often poignant, with traces of last year's The Golden Morning Breaks occasionally emerging (the haunting “Petite Fleur”).

Performing solo, Schott generally restricts herself to a single acoustic instrument on each piece (music box, zither, ukulele, melodica, etc.), thereby enhancing the performance's intimate feel. At the same time, an occasional deployment of looping and delay pedals brings the material closer to the albums' layered sound; she approximates a mini-orchestra of thumb pianos and recorder players in “The Thumb Piano Song,” for instance, and layers sawing tones over resonant guitar backing during “The Cello Song.” Though sparser by comparison, the VPRO set is at times as stirring as The Golden Morning Breaks plus affords a revealing glimpse into Colleen's onstage methods. Mention should be made, too, of Staalplaat's elegant cloth packaging whose presentation is as captivating as the music it accompanies.

April 2006