I love this album, Colleen teases textures out of basic instruments with honed studio instincts, treating us to turns of emotions with the deft use of her palette. This is probably going to be one of my top albums this year,
Favorite track: Hidden in the Current.
Oh, Cécile! Very much anticipated. The two preview tracks are simply sublime. The grounding of rhythm boxes against warm tones and beautiful vocal melodies works perfectly...just stunning music.
I am waking
I finally woke up
And stood on my own
It was hidden in the current
Where all things flow
It was hidden in the current
Where all things go
It was hidden in the current
Where all things grow
Even on their own
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Colleen is an aboundingly inventive composer and artist. For two decades Cécile Schott as Colleen has crafted welcoming, enchanting, and bewildering music. The multi-instrumentalist and vocalist’s timeless compositions make use of carefully selected tools to mold memories into transcendent splendor. The Tunnel and the Clearing finds Schott at her most vulnerable and confident, invoking contemplative and swirling organ processed through analog electronics, steady drum machine syncopations and her distinctive voice to embody breaking through the nexus of compounding transitions. On an album centered on processing the complicated washes of emotion through tribulations and revelations Colleen presents a vision of breathless clarity.
The Tunnel and the Clearing was developed over a period of transformative change. Colleen began work on the album in 2018 only to be met with extreme fatigue from a previously undiagnosed illness that all but halted her work. The following months and years of treatment and adjustment eventually led to relocating to a new home and studio in Barcelona, which was soon followed by lockdowns and ultimately the dissolution of her longtime partnership. The impact of deep reflecting on these cumulative experiences found Schott completely reimagining her compositional practices through her enduring gift for reinvention. Schott spent months in near complete silence apart from composing and ruminating on her newfound perspective through her music. Says Schott, “Never before had I felt so profoundly the power that music has, through harmony, melody, rhythm and sound itself, to express the whole range of human emotions.” The resulting seven pieces investigate the complex, at times contradictory relationship between excitement and fear, anger and understanding, struggle and triumph, all focused on a reconstruction of the self.
Colleen’s albums are unified by their employment of distinct and personal instrumentation to tell their story. From albums built around music boxes or viola da gamba to albums built around electronics, her music remarkably shares a dreamlike modern quality. From the early stages of working on The Tunnel and the Clearing Schott restricted herself to using analog electronic instruments like the Elka Drummer One, the Roland RE-201 Space Echo and Moog Grandmother synth, coupled with Yamaha organ keyboard and select Moog effects. This limited instrument selection was inspired by years of listening to Jamaican and African recordings where musicians were pushed to maximize their creativity with minimal tools. A magnitude of atmospheres are summoned from deceptively simple combinations, from the meditative pulse of “The Crossing” to the frothy cascades of title track “The Tunnel and the Clearing.” Pieces like “Revelation,” or the brisk-paced “Implosion-Explosion” respectively showcase the most diverse use of harmony and the most incisive application of production technique in all of Colleen’s catalog. Stunningly, Colleen achieves the rich emotional intricacy and the lush density of textures on The Tunnel and the Clearing through almost entirely live performance and processing.
The detailed and affecting compositions of The Tunnel and the Clearing mirror Colleen’s grappling with her own psyche. Schott elaborates “I found direct correspondences between my internal discourse, its obsessive, frantic attempts at making sense of what I could not understand, and the music I was making, with motifs functioning as questions and answers, doubts and assertions.” Clicks, hums, warbles and throbs emulating our evolving internal worlds, an “emotional noise.” A musical journey through the tunnel toward the clearing at its end. An ending which is also a beginning. “The clearing is what is always out there: a vast expanse of space, light and possibilities,” says Schott. The Tunnel and the Clearing is a work of lucid reverence, a constellation of marvels suspended in air.
released May 21, 2021
Music and lyrics by Cécile Schott (SACEM), 9th May – 30th November 2020.
Performed, recorded, mixed and produced by Cécile Schott, 25th October – 1st December 2020, at home in Barcelona, Spain.
1 The Crossing: Yamaha Reface YC, Roland RE-201 Space Echo, Elka Drummer One
2 Revelation: Yamaha Reface YC, Moog Grandmother and MF104M Analog Delay, vocals
3 Implosion-Explosion: Yamaha Reface YC, Moog MF-101 Lowpass Filter and MF-104M Analog Delay, Elka Drummer One, Roland RE-201 Space Echo, vocals
4 The Tunnel and the Clearing: Yamaha Reface YC, Roland RE-201 Space Echo
5 Gazing at Taurus – Santa Eulalia: Yamaha Reface YC, Moog MF-104M Analog Delay, Elka Drummer One, Roland RE-201 Space Echo, vocals
6 Gazing at Taurus – Night Sky Rumba: Yamaha Reface YC, Roland RE-201 Space Echo, Elka Drummer One
7 Hidden in the Current: Yamaha Reface YC, Moog Grandmother and MF-104M Analog Delay, vocals
Mastering by Antony Ryan at RedRedPaw.
Artwork and design by Andrés Gómez Servín:
Artwork photograph by Mauricio Alejo.
This album is dedicated to my friends, my cats Sol and Klee, and the city of Barcelona.
Thanks to everyone at Thrill Jockey and especially Bettina Richards, Mike Boyd and Matt Fidler, Antony Ryan for overall support and being the kindest mastering engineer on earth, Moog Music Inc. for their generous gear donation, Soundgas Ltd for providing me with the perfect Space Echo RE-201 and the Elka Drummer One (and Gid in particular for being so helpful and for the inspiring gear demos).
A special thank you to my parents and my friends and in particular Martin, Iga, Camila and Diego.
Extra special thanks to Andrés Gómez Servín, Daniel Barreto and Luis Torroja for jumping onboard this train with such kindness and enthusiasm.
To everyone who listens to my music and supports it in one way or another: you make this adventure possible and more beautiful with each passing year.