Sunday, March 07, 2004

A version forthcoming in

Colleen- Everyone Alive Wants Answers

Everyone Alive Wants Answers is the debut record from 26-year-old Parisienne Cecile Schott, who records under the Colleen guise. Following a seven-inch release of the track Babies on France’s Active Suspension label, Schott caught the attention of London-based Leaf, home to esteemed Japanese minimalist Susumu Yakota. The resulting LP contains music that effortlessly transcends time and frequently contradicts itself, sounding from 1950s and 2004 simultaneously; music produced by a group of musicians or lovingly assembled alone. This is a record brimming with emotion and it evokes subtle images that resonate heavily within-- visions of childhood and memories of times past.

The overall sound of Everyone Alive Wants Answers can best be compared to William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops and is indicative of where his recordings might have meandered if stretched beyond the confines of two bar repetitions. …Answers shares the submerged, distant and slightly unnerving aesthetic, contrasted by the sense of warmth and comfort created in the analogue-sounding recordings. However, The Disintegration Loops stem from organic origins while…Answers was created on a laptop, alone, and with modern composition techniques. To Schott’s credit, her debut doesn’t sound even remotely machine made. Rather, it is a record tinged with subtle imperfection; fiercely intimate textures sewn together with a personal, narrative feel.

The songs on the record are emotive, fragile tones coming together in a very human fashion. A gentle, childlike naiveté seemingly papers over the cracks, concealing something slightly sinister below. It’s the way you felt when you first listened to Boards of Canada’s Music Has the Right to Children, only instead of vintage synths and beats, think dusty piano loops, ancient-sounding xylophones, strings and glockenspiels.

The title track conjures up images of springtime in the country, viewed by holding film negatives up to the light. Delicate string plucks mingle with samples of birds and lay amidst the pops and hiss of the tape. Ritournelle is a cinematic-sounding loop that, with a simple key change, manages to convey more emotion than infinitely more complicated works. The only distinct rhythmic element on the record appears with a distant heartbeat sample on Carry-Cot. The submerged tone, seemingly pulled straight from the chest cavity, anchors a haunting sample of a child’s enthusiastic banter mixed with the angelic strums of a harp. It’s the sound of memories; antiquated childhood recordings stashed in the attic only to be discovered after maturing.

Regardless of the images the songs suggest, the listener is blanketed with a sentiment that runs much deeper than the compositions on the surface. Though a few tracks are forgettable, Everyone Alive Wants Answers is an overall rewarding experience and one of the most stunningly different ambient records of the year. It is also a very promising individual release from a pool of talented female electronic musicians including Mira Calix and Mileece, who bring warmth and emotion to a genre sometimes criticized as cold and lifeless.

No comments: