Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reviewing a reissue of Celer’s ‘Engaged Touches’ on Home Normal – that album was, for me, something of a revelation as I had never before heard their work and was astonished by its sheer elegant beauty…
I was, then, thrilled to have before me a new album to review – ‘Dying Star’ on Dragon’s Eye Recordings.
From the outset, it’s clear that ‘Dying Star’ is an entirely different approach to ambient music than that found on ‘Engaged Touches’. The sonic palette is reduced to the most minimal of elements – a single vintage synthesiser and mixing board (so the accompanying notes tell me). Gone too is the epic musicality of ‘Engaged Touches’- which was reminiscent of Stars of the Lid’s best work- and in its place are washes of vague and almost illusory ambience – undefined and restless, creating a forever morphing, ebbing and fading field of sound.
Owing to the structural and sonic similarity of the tracks, ‘Dying Star’ creates the impression of being a single piece of music rather than an album composed of individual tracks. The album flows, one piece into the next with indistinguishable beginnings and endings, feeling like an intentional aural modelling of the imperceptible liminal boundary of night and day alluded to
in the album’s title. The results are, needless to say, mesmerising and haunting.
The apparent simplicity of the music should not be confused with a poverty of ideas, nor should it be assumed that such sparse arrangements betray a lack of musical nous. Celer have proved, over their extensive discography, that they have a rich and certain grasp of the conceptual terrain of ambient music and have explored every inch of it. ‘Dying Star’ should be taken as
but one exploratory emission from within their oeuvre rather than a definitive statement of intent.
To my mind the album isn’t as strong as some of their other output, but I feel that, somehow, “strength” isn’t what is intended to be conveyed here. The hazy ganzfeld-like experimentation delivered through the album’s eight tracks is to be consumed almost incidentally as a subtle augmentation of naturally occurring waking dreams. This is true ambient music – to be enjoyed as an integrated part of the surroundings rather than attended to with focussed intent – and in this context, you couldn’t ask for a better example of the art.
– Review by John McCaffrey for Fluid Radio