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Colleen - The Golden Morning Breaks

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Artist: Colleen

Album: The Golden Morning Breaks

Label: Leaf

Review date: Apr. 26, 2005

To describe the 10 hand-crafted compositions that comprise The Golden Morning Breaks as minimalist psychedelia would be both an oversimplification of the genres and a disservice to the musings of one Cecile Schott, a.k.a. Colleen, whose complex combinations of melodic guitar, glockenspiel, keyboards and found sounds recall neither John Cale nor the 13th Floor Elevators. Still, this her second album for the Leaf label, bounds forth in both directions with equal aplomb, resulting in a sound that is at turns disturbing, humorous, playful and dreamlike – simultaneously seductive and reductive.

Even a cursory listening to this all-instrumental offering reveals a number of intriguing influences. “Floating in the Clearest Night” and “The Happy Sea” share not only a disposition for precious song titles, but also a common musical vernacular with Flying Saucer Attack and the occasional Bardo Pond record. Truly, a number of the songs on The Golden Morning Breaks seem to have been recorded with a barely-melodic vocal track in mind, only to have it removed at the last moment. The absence of lyrics, though, is scarcely a fault, exemplified best by “I’ll Read You a Story” – seven minutes of fleeting, plucked melodies that unfold and develop just like the title implies.

In contrast to the Bliss-Out tendencies on a number of tracks lies the more-playful, if occasionally less-fulfilling, psychedelic tinge of compositions like “The Sweet Harmonicon” and “Mining in the Rain.” Certainly rooted in the same percussive territory as other songs found here, and bearing a marked similarity to recordings by Pipa-ist Min Xiao Fen, these songs sound not as much like self-contained compositions as lost fragments from a Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd album. Undeniably intriguing, if occasionally precious, Schott’s gift for controlled improvisation makes these songs tenable interludes in an otherwise thoroughly-engaging album. Underscoring this point, perhaps intentionally, is the remarkable 10-minute closing track “Everything Lay Still,” which combines playful chimes, droning guitar and keyboards into a single magnificent theme that displays at once both sides of Colleen’s dual nature.

By Ian Fitzpatrick

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