The Californian duo of William and Danielle Baquet-Long, known as Celer, manages to create sounds on its 2009 release Engaged Touches that are breathtaking, transcendental, and confusing at times. Over a year after selling all 500 copies within two days of pre-order availability, the Home Normal label has decided to grace 1000 more ears with this re-release.
The sounds provided, apart from the field recordings, are built from time-stretched string arrangements, tape loops and various other effects. The orchestral loops and samples have a presence that is very organic—yet alien at the same time, which is further accentuated by the reverb and echo that lingers throughout Engaged Touches. This becomes apparent in the first piece “A Once and Meaningful Life” which opens with the sound of a train, easing into a constant loop of hazy, sustained strings that leave the listener in a murky euphoria.
Keep in mind, though, that repetition is very prevalent on Engaged Touches. The arrangements provided are very minimal, and aren’t necessarily built upon—but exploration isn’t the purpose; the instrumentation will repeat throughout a given piece, but it being magnified by the aforementioned haze proves that Celer are aspiring to be meditative, rather than reaching an apogee. Their meditative ambition is a refreshing aberration from the slow-building structures in experimental music that has, at this point, become ubiquitous.
On Engaged Touches, Celer create an environment that is meant to be lost in; much like being lost in a field filled with flowers: though there’s an evident level of disorientation, the setting itself isn’t threatening in the slightest. Though versatility may not play a prominent role here, Engaged Touches is an album that is just a simply beautiful masterpiece and nothing more.