(2020 - self release - UK)
It could be described as an impressionistic group who make musical portraits set in gold frames. Docile treasures of works from this unique quartet of another kind, that creates sage dreamy, wistful, telegraphic coils of chimera. I was instantly attracted to Collectress 'Mondegreen' (2014), their debut and elusive vaulting and ever spiraling release of gems. Then the long overdue follow-up six years later (due to them all being in such different places physically and mentally over these last few years) comes under the title 'Different Geographies' (2020), not only sealing the spacious and sweeping universe that they frolic and create in, but also hereby building an ivory tower of master moves on their chessboard, to altogether consume the warhorse music lover into ardent delight.
Going twenty steps to the left of Philip Glass, a couple of moonshots past Kronos Quartet, giving plenty of bows to Soft Verdict (the Wim Mertens brilliance), and sky sailing with many golden aged classical eagles, on this sophomore album, Alice Eldridge - cello, Korg MS10, laptop feedback, piano, Rhodes, vocals, percussion / Rebecca Waterworth - cello, piano, vocals, percussion / Caroline Weeks - flute, guitar, Yamaha VSS200, piano, Rhodes, vocals, percussion / Quinta - violin, piano, Rhodes, Korg MS10, Yamaha VSS200, vocals, percussion, saw / Featuring: Andy Waterworth - Double Bass (In the Streets, in the Fields & Landing) / and Pepo the dog - vocals (In the Streets, In the Fields), all make an even more invigorating recording.
Based in and around London, the four all female musicians stay busy. Alice Eldridge is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Sussex investigating value of listening in conservation (ecoacoustics) and ecosystemic ideas in music. Rebecca Waterworth is a senior lecturer in fine art and 3D at UCA Rochester exploring the combination of vision and sound in performance and installation. Caroline Weeks combines her work as a mother of two small children with instrumental teaching and performance. Quinta is a composer, touring session multi-instrumentalist, orchestrator/arranger and current PRS Composer Award grantee. If I have listed some artists that Collectress remind me of, it is proof here with some of the people they have worked with. For instance Rebecca plays with Penguin Cafe, the new version of Penguin Cafe Orchestra, which is led by Arthur Jeffes (Simon Jeffes son, who led the original PCO). She also played on a low key alternative band called Chimp, and on Clearlake 'Cedars'. Quinta (Katherine Mann) has worked with Bat for Lashes, Penguin Cafe, Marques Toliver, Patrick Wolf, Radiohead’s Philip Selway, and more. Caroline has released albums as Caroline Weeks as well as played with Hamilton Yarns and Bat for Lashes. Alice played bass with Lianne Hall, cello with Mary Hampton, Seth Bennett's low frequency string quartet, in Brain Dead Ensemble, as well as various European improv outfits like Seen. So now you see the ground the quartet cover.
The music consists of sprightly bars of striking and mercurial pieces, some having even more glassy and capacious atmosphere. Excursions aglow, they add the two guests which gives even more roomy breadth. The ensemble lavishly bestows floating pastoral classical Canterbury and the warmth becomes yours. With no fears or reasons to hurry, and produce anything but the beauty they desire, Collectress pace each composition the same as nature growing exotic roses, only when the conditions become perfect, or so it appears. With a submergence in efflux and sometimes otherworldly terrain, the forward and peerless musicians have become mathematicians of invention. So open to venture, as if the spirit moves them in mysterious ways, then allows them to move some more. Sometimes wayward.
The title 'Different Geographies' speaks loud to works laid out on this brilliant display of what is an instant classic. A distinguished pearl in a sad sea of random ooze, this scrupulous recording is a crown among many thorns. A prismatic soul caressing encounter you will never regret or forget. This is new blood, and with a Collectress performance, anything can happen. Priceless! A GIGANTIC RECOMMENDATION.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 4 - 14 - 2020