Colette certainly makes her mark, starting the first all-female DJ collective (SuperJane) and dropping the classical vocal world to sing over the house music she had become immersed in. She soon learned to make her own beats so that she could have greater flexibility and creativity in her performances. After a string of 12-inches and three mixes, Colette has finally producered her long-time-coming artist debut, Hypnotized.
While her club shows have gained a reputation for being upbeat and dance-friendly, her album mixes traditional house with steady supply of downtempo. The shifts in tempo not only keep the disc entertaining, but they also allow Colette to utilize the various aspects of her voice. She shows equal skill in club-leading pop and in soft, sultry tones. The softer side closes the album, with the somewhat empty jazz inflections of “Smile for Me”, which comes as a disappointment given the strong opening of the disc.
“Feelin’ Hypnotized” starts the similarly-titled album. Colette breaks no new ground on this track, but she builds it nicely from a simple beat into a fine pop song containing just a hint of lyrical reflection. On the mix, she keeps the overall treble high, but maintains a thudding bass at all times. She follows it with the more banging “What’s Wrong with Being Lonely”, which relies on a more mobile bassline. If cymbals focused the last song, now it’s the bottom end. Colette weaves her voice and keyboard runs around the groove while keeping everything tight on the beat.
After the second track, Colette hints at a slow number by introducing a mellow piano. She quickly sets up another dance number by bringing in speedier percussion. When her vocals start, you realize the real joke: she’s covering Robert Palmer’s “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On.” The track works wonderfully, as Colette completely remakes the song, using that voice that makes you think she’s needed to say the title phrase a few times in her life. Where Palmer sounded untrustworthy and licentious, Colette sounds honest. She also sounds as if she’s having fun.
The middle of the album contains several downtempo tracks. These moments are less effective that the house numbers—Colette’s voice (again) stands out, but the music doesn’t develop either an effective atmosphere or a memorable groove. “Like the Sun” suffers because it feels so redundant in its genre. Completely forgettable, the track proves Colette’s fallibility in an awkwardly apparent way. “Crowded Places” lasts less than 40 seconds, and serves no purpose, either as a transitional piece or as its own work.
Fortunately “Our Day”, revived from a mix of the same name on Nettwerk lifts the quality level back up, using electronic punctuations to provide a hint of tension in a track that begins more chill than it turns out to be. As on “Feelin’ Hypnotized”, Colette builds the song nicely, adding subtle elements until she’s fully fleshed out her vision. It’s one of the disc’s most successful moments, and there’s no surprise that she’d choose to salvage this particular track from a mix.
She wisely bounces up with “What Will She Do For Love”, with its hints of Madonna and energetic synth part. The sudden transition between songs reminds us of Colette’s flexibilty, but, more important, it gives us a boost of energy. It’s the moment in the club when you put down your almost-finished drink in order to see who could be a fine dance partner. Whether you manage to walk anywhere or not, at least your on your feet again, with your eyes open.
Although Hypnotized doesn’t provide any stunning moments of innovation, it does use existing forms to give you enough elements of clubbing to stay interesting. Whether Colette’s encouraging you to dance or driving you home, she makes sure you’re comfortable. While that comfort isn’t a bad thing, it also might not have holding power. Then again, I’ve had the same couch for years, and I don’t know that I’d enjoy settling in somewhere else.
// Notes from the Road
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