Colleen et les Boîtes à Musique is a generous EP (nearly 40 minutes) containing 13 pieces Cécile Schott (aka Colleen) was commissioned to create for a special broadcast by the French government's Radiophonic Workshop, with the addition of "I'll Read You a Story," reprised from her 2005 album The Golden Morning Breaks. As the title implies (translation: Colleen and the music boxes), every one of these pieces apart from the languorous "Story" (which also features classical guitar) was made exclusively using music boxes, and it is likely as thorough an exploration of the possibilities of that instrument as has ever been conducted. Although the sonic palette is necessarily rather limited (Schott does expand it somewhat via electronic recording techniques), the range of moods and qualities she manages to evoke with it is impressively broad, encompassing the bleary, distended melancholy of "The Sad Panther," the jokey, scrappy "Charles's Birthday Card" and "A Bear Is Trapped" (shambolic reworkings of, respectively, "Rockabye Baby" and "Pop Goes the Weasel"), and the pure susurrating sweetness of the two-part "What Is a Componium?" (incidentally, it's a music box that allows you to create your own tunes using punch cards). As a whole, the record is both a marvelously inventive compositional project and a delightful, delicate, and enchanting collection of music, certainly among the loveliest offerings in Colleen's impressive oeuvre.
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AllMusic Review by K. Ross Hoffman