Celer: Ceylon

Celer: Continents

Celer: Sunlir/Scols

At the opposite end of the spectrum from mass-produced jewel-cased products lie Celer's custom-made disc packages. Each of the three releases arrives in an individually painted case with an abstract design rendered in a satin finish (even the discs are painted); Celer members Will Long and Danielle Baquet-Long clearly regard the music and its presentation as intertwined parts of an experiential whole. Sonically, the discs feature meditative ambient loops pushed to the extreme: Ceylon's title piece, for example, is an hour-long drone of minimal crystalline tones that waver hypnotically and pan ever-so-subtly; commensurate with its duration, the piece quickly becomes trance-inducing, its music suggesting the natural rhythms of breathing or the body's rhythms during sleep.

Continents, on the other hand, includes a regular CD containing nine tracks, most in the 8 to 11 minute range, and a mini-CD containing two extra long pieces. These discs' loops are Gas-like in character: vaporous, grandiose string waves that unfurl in slow motion like huge mushrooming clouds; faint traces of crackle and skips are even audible too. Billowing epics like “Bereft Oversight” and “Fast Forwarding Sleep” are majestic, deep, and verge on rapturous; the anomalous “The Ex Hypthesi Dreams of Populous Clouds,” by contrast, churns animatedly.

The two-disc set Sunlir/Scols features nineteen limpid pools of steely, shimmering loops that are alternately kin to the skeletal and vaporous styles of Ceylon and Continents, respectively . In many ways, Sunlir/Scols feels like the most definitive encapsulation of Celer's beatific style and, oddly, though its running time is humongous (almost 150 minutes), it never feels overlong; no doubt the music's immersive pull contributes to that impression of temporal suspension. The set has its gaseous moments too including heavenly ones like the first half's closer “Sunlir 10_6” and “Scols 1_7.” In the latter, high- and low-pitched string tones surge repeatedly, accompanied by a faint ringing sound and gentle starbursts. While a dark undercurrent occasionally emerges (“Scols 7_4,” in particular, startles for being so disturbingly aggressive), calling it celestial seems more apropos. Listening to Celer, one naturally thinks of artists like Gas, Marsen Jules, and William Basinski and devotees of their works will find much to appreciate in Celer's music too.

January 2007