This fascinating debut album from Parisian Cecile Schott is a gorgeous example of non-electronic electronica. With hardly a synth in sight, it's made from complex sample collages of dreamy classical-style music. At its best, like the silken title track, it flows organically, evoking the complexity of the natural world in a way that neither conventional classical music nor pure abstract electronics can. Wispy layers of guitars, mandolins and other pretty instruments are woven together at unusual angles, like a less dance-leaning Susumu Yokota.
It's sometimes so muffled and cloudy that it evades active listening, content to just drift around the ears. The mist conceals musical action that ranges from churning and mechanical on "Your Heart on Your Sleeve" through ghostly and formless on "Long Live Mice In the Metro", to fragile and fragmentary on "I Was Deep In A Dream And I Knew It". "Ritournelle" has a particularly Portishead-like nostalgic old-vinyl loop. The sample collaging isn't sometimes as slick as it could be, with some not quite seamless looping. Though such an effect might still have some value in itself, in the woozy, seasick effect that it creates when you listen too closely.
Song titles including "Happy Cloud", "Babies" and "Carry Cot" (which includes a sample of an absurdly cute toddler) are not ironic, the music really is as elfin and naively sweet as they suggest. But Colleen's music is not all fairies and pink confetti, it does have a creeping dark and mysterious side. After all, not all fairies are friendly.
July 5, 2006