You know that feeling you get when you realise you’ve missed the boat? That bizarre moment of realisation that somehow you just weren’t in the right place at the right time? Listening to Celer’s “Engaged Touches” was a moment like that for me…
I’m baffled as to how I’ve managed to avoid hearing Celer’s music – I’ve seen their name mentioned in all the right places, read reviews and noted that their music has been released on some fantastic labels. Yet, whether through a lack of time or through simply not cognitively registering the information in front of me, I have succeeded in overlooking their work. Thankfully, Home Normal have seen fit to allow those people, like myself, who have been left stranded at the shore scratching their heads and watching the boat disappear over the horizon, a second chance to get on board with this re-release of “Engaged Touches”.
So, with the knowledge that I’m probably preaching to the converted, I have to say, with the zeal of the new convert, this album is simply magnificent. Taking the form of two long pieces, “Engaged Touches” is music to be alone with and lose yourself in. It is not merely that pieces of this length require the sustained attention of the listener, but the two tracks here, with their enveloping ambience and hidden layers, demand attention for their discreet and restrained beauty. Each piece is made up of linked vignettes rich in balance and classicism. Stylistically, the most obvious comparison is to Stars of the Lid’s “And Their Refinement of the Decline”. Each phrase is characterised by wholeness, is a self-contained epic. Frozen strings melt into channels that are at once both familiar and fulfilling. Tones emerge, shift and probe the auditory field – tracing and defining the boundaries of wakefulness. Whilst undeniably minimal – on a first listen some people may understandably (but mistakenly) dismiss these tracks as directionless or lacking a driving force – the pieces have a glacial subtlety that provides cumulative momentum. Time appears suspended; the pieces deliberately unfold, evolving with studied forbearance and, despite their length, they’re gone before you realise.
It doesn’t make sense to try and capture the details of each track here; the delicacy and timing of their emotional resolution defies any attempt to focus on individual parts – to separate out the constituents is impracticable. There is an experiential quality to this music that can only understood through allowing yourself time to absorb its scope and affective splendour. “Engaged Touches” should be experienced in its undivided, perfectly balanced entirety as a single entity. It should be engaged with like a landscape; a real landscape, not a painting – timeless, majestic and embodying an immutable, elemental power. Stupendous stuff.
– Review by John McCaffrey for Fluid Radio