Colleen The Golden Morning Breaks

[Leaf; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: ambient, sound-collage
Others: Susumu Yokota, Brian Eno, Mum, Black Dice, Polmo Polpo

Colleen's last album Everyone Alive Wants Answers was aptly described somewhere by someone as the perfect soundtrack to a nightmare, with its vacuous and foreboding textures and pacing. Everything on it was just slightly eerie, which of course is much scarier than bombastic fright sounds, sounds well suited to accompanying the surreal tableaux of your often incoherently recontextualized sublimated fears which constitute the most effective nightmares. And I reckon that's a lot of why the album is one of my favorites of the past few years. It just struck chords that not much music can to make for an incredibly memorable listening experience. Which is maybe why I'm not nearly as compelled by this album, despite a striking similarity to its predecessor. The pace is the same creeping lilt, and the atmosphere is identically nebulous. But this time around, the music is more suited to a pleasant rowboat ride with your beloved; it's just irrepressibly pleasant.

I've listened to this album many, many times, and I've never come away with a firm grasp on what I've just listened to, rather just a pleasingly blank mental state. Which isn't to say it's mind numbing, rather it's an impeccably constructed literal execution of ambient music, in the sense that the listener can seamlessly drift in and out of actively paying attention to it. The songs are flawlessly restrained within their parameters for dynamism, almost never demanding a listener's attention. So, where's the rub? I'm using these breathless words to describe the album, but I'm plainly not wowed by it. And the best way to convey my misgivings about this album is that I think it sounds like the backing track to any number of Sigur Ros or Mum numbers. Sure, its much more cleverly constructed, with it being constructed entirely out of layered and looped and manipulated pieces of the artist playing familiar and, more saliently, archaic musical instruments on compositions written specifically for this album to plunder and mine. But, the end result doesn't strike my ear as much different. As an ambient piece, I would heartily recommend it. As a follow up to the eminently memorable nightmare that was the preceding release, I don't feel it holds up. Not knowing which it is, I'd call it "pleasant" through and through.

1. Summer Water
2. Floating In The Clearest Night
3. Heart Harmonicon
4. Sweet Rolling
5. Happy Sea
6. I'll Read You A Story
7. Bubbles Which On A Water Swim
8. Mining In The Rain
9. Golden Morning Breaks
10. Everything Lay Still