Colleen – Captain Of None

Colleen - Captain Of None

Colleen – Captain Of None

Having made such an assured step forward with 2013’s The Weighing Of The Heart on Second Language, it was perhaps inevitable that a larger and more globally-reaching label such as Thrill Jockey would sign up Cécile Schott (AKA Colleen) for this sequel set.  Paradoxically, despite such a leg-up, Captain Of None is a far more elusive affair.  Whereas its pensive predecessor hermetically-sealed in lush yet minimalist Moondog-inspired soundscapes as backdrops for Schott’s first proper vocal/song-based material, for a serene self-contained statement, this follow-up is a far more open-ended and amorphous creation.

Openly-inspired by vintage dub pioneers and carrying-on the spirit of the Solar/Stellar remix EP (which added electronically-enhanced immersions to three cuts from The Weighing Of The Heart ), Captain Of None does from the outset feel like a far-reaching progression in Colleen’s world.  In fact, the wordless amniotic grooves of the opening “Holding Horses” could easily be mistaken for a remoulded Tortoise offering were it not for the distinctive yet heavily-treated presence of Schott’s viola da gamba playing in the mix.  The radicalisation stretches the Colleen sound to the point of breaking elsewhere, with the feverishly-percussive “This Hammer Breaks” veering uncomfortably towards becoming a discombobulated low-tech take on ‘90s drum ‘n’ bass.

Colleen - Captain Of None unpacked

Colleen – Captain Of None (unpacked on vinyl)

Such a minor misstep aside, the rewired sonic settings are more cohesively soldered into place across other parts of the LP.  Hence, the melodica-infused “Salina Stars” spreads out a bewitching Augustus Pablo-indebted dreamscape; “Soul Alphabet” masterfully mixes African desert-folk with a pulsing low-end; and the echo-drenched and shimmering “Eclipse” finds Schott’s delicate vocals beautifully enveloped in Lee Perry-like studio trickery.   Whilst Captain Of None does go a long way in distancing itself from The Weighing Of The Heart, Schott hasn’t totally abandoned its meticulous framings, especially where her trance-like tones and poetic prose are more to the fore.  Thus, this gives us the nimble hypnosis of “I’m Kin,” the overlapping voices of “Lighthouse” and the looped plucking of the titular track, as moments of welcome continuity amongst the more overriding moments of reinvention.

Overall then, Captain Of None is very much a transitional trip of self-discovery.  Whilst it might miss its prequel’s sublime rootedness, the album’s alluring and questing life-force confirms that Cécile Schott is a thoughtful artisan to keep closely watching over a long-haul creative journey.

Thrill Jockey