Album du jour: Colleen, “Captain of None”


It’s time, dear friend, for another Stay tuned… blog trip off the musical highway and onto a seldom-explored, half-hidden byway.  How by is today’s byway?  Pretty, and prettily, by, that’s how by it is.

The artist, a 39-year old Frenchwoman named Cécile Schott, goes by the nom de musique Colleen.  One wonders whether, had she been christened Colleen Schott, she would go by the name Cécile — but that’s the way you roll along the musical byways, where you dare not give your right name.

Mlle Schott — excusez-moi, Colleen specializes in delicate, somewhat archaic sounds which she treats in an up-to-date post-minimal manner.  Imagine an electronica producer like Apex Twin, or perhaps a an ambient composer like Brian Eno, doing music for recorder quartet and baroque lute, and you’ve kind of got the idea.  One one previous album, Colleen wrote gentle, meditative numbers for viole da gamba, clarinets, classical guitars, spinets and musical glasses (she plays all her own instruments, which she liberally multi-tracks).  Another, one of the coolest byway albums in my collection, consists almost entirely of new music composed and constructed for music boxes.  Who else would think of doing such a thing?

By the standards of those earlier albums, Colleen’s latest, “Captain of None,” is practically Céline Dion in its normality.  This time, Colleen’s instrumentarium consists of treble viola da gamba, (I hear a bass viola da gamba as well, though none is credited) melodica, percussion and effects.  Oh, and she adds her breathy, appealing voice to the texture on about half the tracks, singing (usually in multiples of herself) epigramatic phrases of as much rhythmic interest as melodic or literary.  As I hope you will go on to hear for yourself, the music is hushed, suspenseful and very appealing.  No, it ain’t Beethoven, Billie Holiday or even Beyoncé.  But if you need a pleasant and refreshing diversion from the musical highway, I think “Captain of None” is just the thing.

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