Les Ondes Silencieuses (The Silent Waves) is a set of nine fairly sparse and mournful tunes played by Cécile Schott aka Colleen. She uses a five-string viola da gamba, an acoustic guitar, clarinet, spinet (a keyboard instrument similar to the harpsichord) and crystal glass. The majority of the tracks are solo pieces in every sense of the word. And unlike her live sets, there is minimal sampling or manipulation of sound.
Working with a limited palette, and inside a fairly rigid framework, means that the music has to work harder to establish its own identity and not sound dry and academic. Largely Schott is successful. “Blue Sands” has a Nyman-esque repetition that is quite mesmerising. “Sun Against My Eyes” and “Sea Of Tranquility” are both guitar and clarinet duets, but very different in tempo and mood – one being, well, sunny and the other tranquil! The latter is an exceptionally beautiful piece.
“Echoes And Coral” is a solo composition for crystal glass, sounding something like muted tubular bells. It comes across more as an intellectual experiment than a satisfying piece of music. Similarly, “Le Labyrinthe”, the spinet piece, also feels a little dry. These are minor quibbles. On the whole, the album is a success. The closing two tracks showcase the versatility of the viola da gamba as both a plucked and bowed instrument. The playing may not be at virtuoso level, but there is a deep well of emotion in it. Les Ondes Silencieuses is a charming album of unaffected simplicity which reveals new things with each play.