Celer: Engaged Touches
Home Normal

Celer: Breeze of Roses
Dragon's Eye

Celer's Engaged Touches finds married duo Will Thomas Long and Danielle Baquet-Long bringing their rich “sound paintings” style to the newly-created Home Normal imprint. As they've done in the past for Spekk, Infraction, and others, the ultra-prolific pair again blends field recordings and acoustic sounds (piano, strings, bells, whistles) into lush, mesmerizing wholes. The Celer sound transcends a single descriptor—“ambient” is too limiting, “collagistic” suggests a patchwork quality the group's carefully-woven settings lack, “minimalism” understates the plenitude of materials a given piece presents—so one is best to think of it as a hybrid of all such tendencies. Despite having been in operation for a relatively short amount of time, Celer has established a unique space within the experimental realm.

Though the first piece begins with field recordings Danielle made during an India visit (train clatter, dining car, sleeper car, and fireworks the sound sources in this case), gauzy string melodies, romantic and elegiac in character and augmented by harp strums, dominate. Looping throughout its twenty-six-minute running time, the strings imbue “Part 01” with a lush character that renders the Celer sound even more entrancing than usual. A study in contrast, the piece seems to alternate between earth and heaven as it moves repeatedly between ethereal and earthly dimensions. A mood of graceful melancholy and quietude is sustained throughout the forty-minute “Part 02.” The opening minutes perpetuate the character of the opening setting with the focus again on swooning string motifs but the piece gradually branches out into other areas. Halfway through, it slows to near-stillness as Celer suspends waves of shimmer in the air for prolonged stretches until the strings re-assert themselves, swelling into grandiose wave-like formations and sounding even more radiant and majestic when heard after the microsound episode. Engaged Touches makes for a natural complement to the Infraction releases, Discourses of the Withered and The Everything and the Nothing, given the latter pair's thematic focus on Danielle's travels in India and Nepal.

There's also a geographical dimension to Breeze of Roses, which began when Celer spent a weekend on the Austrian banks of Lake Attersee and, while on a docked sailboat, produced a one-hour recording using mini-piano, whistles, and cello. Field elements found their way into the recording too, specifically the sounds of water thumping against the boat's underside and wind howling outside an open hatch. In 2007, Celer revisited the by then two-year-old recording and restructured and processed its contents into the forty-eight-minute Dragon's Eye release. In contrast to Engaged Touches, Breeze of Roses downplays the “real world” aspect of the release and instead transmutes those originating sounds into a largely synthetic-sounding and ethereal weave of wavering tones (the faint rustle of environmental noise is occasionally audible but faintly). Though the work includes six “Imprecise Parts”—“Crouched in Elysian,” “Quaggy Staircases in Rock Walls, ” “The Archeological Aspects of Grief, ” “Organs of Perception, ” “The Ordinary Intellect, ” and “The Scent of Confusional Arousal”—it unfolds as an uninterrupted vista of softly stirring sound. Curlicues of wind gently blow across the tonal drift at around the thirty-two minute mark and a slight hint of industrial noise simmers near-imperceptibly below the surface elsewhere, but Breeze of Roses sonically suggests the empyrean more than any earthly locale.

May 2009