The album “Pockets of Wheat” consists of a single hour-long track. There are no songs, lyrics or hooks. You learn little from the packaging except that it was recorded in a motel in North Texas, and was inspired by the vast surrounding wheat fields. I’ve listened to the record six or seven times, and always there is the undeniable image in my mind of those wheat fields, the barely perceptible changes in the waves as the wind stops and shifts. You imagine these Californians sitting in the wheat, closing their eyes and dreaming of the ocean.
Instrumental, and especially ambient music, is anathema to pop. Its pleasures are of a different element. Since the music lacks an obvious narrative, ambient recordings tend to absorb meaning from the listening environment, from the environment in which the music was created, and sometimes from the story of its creators. In the case of Celer, the ambient drone husband-and-wife duo Danielle Baquet-Long and Will Long, their recordings will forever be shadowed by Danielle’s untimely death of congenital heart failure, in 2009. If any recording should stand as a memorial to her, this one certainly is stately and elegant and smart enough to be it.
Celer released dozens of records in only a few years, and apparently there are nearly as many records in the vault. There is a clear curious and prolific energy in all of their work, and repeatedly they convey their ideas through a structure based on nature, in creatively physical ways. On 2008’s “Nacreous Clouds,” the music was synchronized with the movement of clouds. But their work would be mere modern art experimentation if it weren’t for the inherent, indescribable joy at its center. Celer is on a celestial journey imbued with private love.
Most drone music doesn’t hit you in the heart the way this does, and such a profound feeling of languorous warmth doesn’t just come from knowing the band’s story—that is, a couple transcending letters, expressing themselves in extended drone. Try to imagine them in that motel room, recording the cello, piano, violin, tambourine and vocals that went into this record, but you’ll never hear verisimilitude in this recording—all those sounds have been melted down to a whirring, stirring current of gold, glinting in late-day sun.
In interviews, Celer spoke about their songs as if they were gifts for each other. At once abstract and calm, “Pockets of Wheat” feels like heavy emotion, the way it can feel like a physical burden. But the private glimmering messages will never be decoded, which is why this recording manages to exude romance with nothing but minimal, sometimes menacing sounds. 8/10 — Eric Braden (28 July, 2010)