Cécile Schott (Colleen) - Bicycle Bells

Artist: Cécile Schott (Colleen)

Song: Bicycle Bells

Album: Colleen et les Boîtes à Musique (EP 2006)

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 to her debut, with several acoustic instruments (including guitars, old pianos, mallets, and even toy instruments) treated by effects. Her third proper album, 2007's Les Ondes Silencieuses, was preceded by an entry in the Staalplaat label's live series Mort aux Vaches, as well as the EP Colleen et les Boîtes à Musique (which was made with music boxes).

…is a generous EP (nearly 40 minutes) containing 13 pieces. Cécile Schott (aka Colleen) was commissioned to create for a special broadcast by the French government's Radiophonic Workshop, with the addition of "I'll Read You a Story," reprised from her 2005 album The Golden Morning Breaks. As the title implies (translation: Colleen and the music boxes), every one of these pieces apart from the languorous "Story" (which also features classical guitar) was made exclusively using music boxes, and it is likely as thorough an exploration of the possibilities of that instrument as has ever been conducted. Although the sonic palette is necessarily rather limited (Schott does expand it somewhat via electronic recording techniques), the range of moods and qualities she manages to evoke with it is impressively broad, encompassing the bleary, distended melancholy of "The Sad Panther," the jokey, scrappy "Charles's Birthday Card" and "A Bear Is Trapped" (shambolic reworkings of, respectively, "Rockabye Baby" and "Pop Goes the Weasel"), and the pure susurrating sweetness of the two-part "What Is a Componium?" (incidentally, it's a music box that allows you to create your own tunes using punch cards). As a whole, the record is both a marvelously inventive compositional project and a delightful, delicate, and enchanting collection of music, certainly among the loveliest offerings in Colleen's

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