Colleen with Seti The First & Áine O’Dwyer
The following is our account of Colleen’s first visit to Cork, Ireland, for her performance at Triskel Christchurch, on Saturday 2nd November 2013. Colleen was supported by the immense talents of Seti The First and Áine O’Dwyer.
Words: Mark & Craig Carry, Photographs: Izabela Szczutkowska
“Raven, why stare at me with those eyes?
Don’t you know I love you
Just as you are?”
(“Raven”, taken from Colleen’s “The Weighing Of The Heart”)
Saturday 2nd November 2013. Today is the day we have the joy and pleasure of bringing Colleen (aka French musician Cécile Schott) over to County Cork, Ireland, for her first performance here. The concert is to be held at Triskel Christchurch, Tobin Street, Cork. It’s been ten years since we both first picked up Colleen’s debut album “Everyone Alive Wants Answers”, a record which seemed to open up a whole new world of sound when we first heard it (we would have been eighteen years old, anxious to discover what music beyond the “norm” sounded like). We purchased the CD from our beloved local record store, Plugd Records, at its then location on Washington Street in Cork City. A decade later – and a string of much cherished Colleen albums later – the special soul of Cécile Schott would conclude her “The Weighing Of The Heart” tour (comprising her first live shows in almost five years) in the environs of our own hometown.
A new departure in Colleen’s ever-expanding sound could be witnessed by Schott’s new material on the night (“Lighthouse”, “Captain Of None” and “I’m Kin”) where the influence from the rich musical landscape of Jamaica (through a new dub-like treatment to her compositions) can be heard. “Lighthouse”, already premiered earlier in the year on Colleen’s European tour, contains a repeated mantra-like vocal, where Schott’s voice is at it’s most sumptuous and enchanting to date. Both the lullaby-like vocal delivery of the central lyric “Lights on the ocean” and a short passage on the viola da gamba are looped repeatedly while Schott layers the tapestry-like composition to it’s richly nuanced and beautifully intricate climax. Elsewhere, the new focus on rhythm and percussion are richly evident – augmented by the use of a floor tom drum and an octabass octaver pedal – the latter adding a dynamic, bass-heavy sound to the rhythm – revealing both the boundless possibilities and the forever-expanding inventiveness of Colleen’s most sacred and precious sounds.
“Be still, don’t do that
I wanted to be here alone
Who are you, I only know
You’re not the person I wanted to
look like What’s up with you
look like you’ve seen a ghost”
(“Hyperbolia”, taken from Áine O’Dwyer’s “Anything bright or startling?”)
“I’ve always experimented with and enjoyed using extended techniques more so than using additional technology. It’s really lovely to bow the lower base steel strings of a harp. A lengthy piece of rubber cable also creates a nice drone. Playing on dampened strings comes in handy. (excuse the pun) Drum brushes work beautifully. I like to lay the harp down flat and play it as a hammer dulcimer too, given the chance. Metal or glass slides work very well along the strings. If I want a guitar or lute sound, I pluck the string closer to the sound board rather than in the center. Playing it backwards is fun! After that, there’s plectrums, harmonics, tremors, string bending……So, plenty of possibilities there before I ever think of plugging it in.”
(Áine O’Dwyer, on discussing the harp’s possibilities)
“Musically, it represents a bit of a departure from our first record Melting Cavalry so we are both nervous and excited at the same time. It will be still cello driven but Thomas’s Marxophone is set to take a very prominent position also.”
(Kevin Murphy, Seti The First, on the forthcoming second album by Seti The First)
“O you my heart be feather-light!”
(Taken from Colleen’s “The Weighing Of The Heart”)
“Once Upon a Time There Was a Pretty Fly (Lullaby)”
Once upon a time
There was a pretty fly
He had a pretty wife
This pretty fly
But one day
She flew away
She had two pretty children
But one night these two pretty children
Into the sky
Into the moon
(Taken from the 1955 film “The Night Of The Hunter”)
“At the time of making the album, I just wanted my music to reflect a sense of joy and movement in a way. So I think getting into percussion and into rhythm, it really helped me approach my instruments differently and to step out of my usual patterns.
So, definitely when I started to learn percussion, it mostly started with learning the frame drum. Then all of a sudden, I finally understood how the basic rhythms are put together, and then when I took my other instruments, it just felt immediately natural to play in a more accented rhythmic way.
So I think it’s definitely a big step forward and I’m really looking forward to keeping on working in that direction. It’s what I really want to explore further is the rhythm and the use of the voice, that’s definitely the step forward for me I think.”
(Cécile Schott, in conversation about adding percussion to her music, May 2013)
“Actually, it’s the most common combination, you know, in popular music in the wide sense: It’s someone singing and they’re playing some kind of instrument at the same time. And obviously that’s been going on for the longest time in history and I thought, well, if I am going to use my voice now, I have to make sure it’s really, really special and I have to keep the thing I did have which was special in my instrumental music. So I did work very hard in trying to achieve that.”
(Cécile Schott, in conversation about adding vocals to her music, May 2013)
“I rise like the sun above olive trees, like the moon above date palms. Where there is light, I shall be. Where there is darkness, there is none of me. I rise like the moon above date palms. I am counted as one among stars.”
(Excerpt taken from The Egyptian Book of the Dead)
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”
―Carl Sagan, “Cosmos”
“Moon be bright and shine”
(Taken from Colleen’s “The Moon Like A Bell”)
All photographs by Izabela Szczutkowska (http://www.izyandthesunshines.blogspot.ie).
(The complete series of photographs can be see HERE.)
Very special thanks to: Cécile, Áine, Seti The First, Lawrence, Triskel Arts Centre, Izabela and everybody in the audience.