Colleen's The Golden Morning Breaks was a subtle affair. Bells, music-boxes, a little organ and some light guitar were the main ingredients, resulting in a spare, but intensely dreamy 50 minutes. Robosexual previously reviewed it here, and you should check it out if you haven't already. Until a little while ago, I was under the impression that Everyone Alive Wants Answers was Colleen's new album, but it is in fact her old album - I made the same mistake with Castanets' What Kind of Cure, at least partially for the same reason. This album doesn't feel older, or simpler - maybe a little more sparse, a little more focussed on loops, but it actually feels a little more cohesive than her newer one. Maybe I'm just making that up. In any case, it's great, and you should have it.
I couldn't tell you what instrument it is that starts off the album, but it has a very singular sound - it sounds kind of like piano wire, or maybe like a lyre or something? Do lyres even exist any more? Anyhow, it stutters beautifully in layers over bird noises and introduces the album well. Next, "Ritournelle" lets a little repeating theme grow, vary, and fade away nicely, then "Carry-Cot" has a sort of Climax Golden Twins sound due to the scratchy recording of a child. The next few tracks follow a theme, a sort of sample/loop base being twisted, added to and accompanied in different ways. You get the feeling that Colleen falls in love with a single sound, and then structures an entire track around it. It works because the songs are short and beautiful, but you can become conscious of the idea that they may become tiresome if they lingered for longer than 3 minutes.
Not the case, however, with the the stunning, simple "Babies," which uses this instrument (Colleen described it to me in an e-mail but which I can NEVER remember the name of) that sounds much like a music box but less metallic and more porcelain. "A Swimming Pool Down the Railway Track" sounds like a drone-y Rachel's track, and is very pretty too. The final track uses that music box again but the melody isn't as compelling this time around. Different atmosphere, though, and it still sounds good.
I class Colleen in the same wide musical vein as Tape and to some extent Fridge - which is to say "organic electronica," a term as ugly-sounding as it is paradoxical, but there you go. It's real instruments, real music, but arranged and tweaked to be more than it was - a sort of cyber-orchestra. If you're not already experienced, check out those two as well, plus maybe Rachel's, Max Richter, and Eluvium for more excellent laptop chamber music.
edit: Man, after almost 200 posts I finally forget to put up the album art on a review. It's there now, obviously.