Archive for November, 2010

Despite a lack of rain, the river still flows. Fairly recently, I remarked on the surprisingly steady stream of Celer-related material which was still emerging. It has now become a cascade, tumbling down with such speed and volume that a new vessel has been created to hold some of the overflow: Two Acorns. Two Acorns is a new imprint curated by Celer’s Will Long and dedicated to Danielle Baquet-Long, which will focus (understandably) on “sentimentality, in all its forms”, which will include not just recordings, but also books. The first bottling from this freshly-assembled vat is a fine blend of Celer and sound artist Yui Onodera, labelled Generic City.

The two (or indeed three) never actually met during the recording process. This was a purely long distance relationship, with Onodera remaining in his native Tokyo, and Celer in Los Angeles. Given that both use the same modus operandi, namely combining field recordings from the city with electronics and acoustic instruments, the result smears one city into the other, emphasising their similarity as much as their differences. As much as the album is about Tokyo or Los Angeles, it is about the things that they, and indeed other cities share (hence the “Generic City” of the album’s title), and the links which bind them. The mall chatter and traffic hum could originate from either, as could much of the instrumentation: guitar, violin, cello and piano spill out softly from the speakers, lingering in the sustained spaces derived in some way from Japanese gagaku and minimalist western classical music, without explicitly referencing either. Only rarely in fact do the sounds obviously relate to one city or the other: the sound of prayer or schoolchildren singing can be fixed with some certainty, and the drones at times take on the feel of a giant Buddhist singing bowl. I’m on shakier ground when it comes to the flock of birds which opens the album: a number of species of birds migrate from the US to Japan, tracing a natural arc between the respective lands.

And of course it isn’t only the birds which would travel between the two: a large chunk of the recording emanates from the environs of an airport, with its final calls and runway roar, the sound of bridges being built between cities in the sky. Despite what the map may suggest, the album quietly makes the point that Tokyo and Los Angeles aren’t as far apart as they once were. As a music box twinkles softly in the background, this Generic City feels like home.

Press release:

Second vinyl LP from this formerly active American duo of Will Long and Danielle Baquet-Long, which also happens to be the second LP from Celer on Blackest Rainbow. Vestiges Of An Inherent Melancholy follows on from the recent pairing of releases on Basses Frequences and features 2 sides of unearthed recordings that were created between December 2006 and July 2008. These two sides find the duo creating some truly beautiful drone works with their use of an organic and electronic palette of instrumentation; cello, violin, pipe organ, electronics, tape, field recordings, samples, and mixing board. This really is a standout side from Celer, pulling together their variety of sounds to make a heart breaking collage of sounds falling between beautiful dream tones and heavier dark moments. Vestiges Of An Inherent Melancholy again pushes Celer further to the front of modern minimal compostion, proving that they were one of the most interesting, consistently outstanding, and intriguing acts around in recent years, creating some of the finest and most beautiful, fragile drone records around. The full experience of a Celer release is complete with accompanying titled fragmented sections for the side long pieces, and striking cover photography by Danielle. Limited to 500 copies in thick old style tip-on hardback jackets with LPs pressed on 140 gram virgin vinyl.

Out soon from Blackest Rainbow

Two Acorns is a new label started by Will Long, one half of Celer. He deals with ‘things you can hold in your hand, or keep on your bookshelf, to keep these feelings, memories, and experiences. There is no replacement for the smell of a book, the spin of a CD player starting’. Hear hear. The label starts of with a collaborative release of his band Celer (which was Long and his partner Danielle Baquet-Long, who passed away) and Yui Onodera. The latter provides field recordings, electronics, guitar, violin, piano and musical box, while Celer holds the mixing board, cello, violin, piano, field recordings, theremin, electronics and ocarina. I am not sure but I don’t recall seeing many collaborations of Celer, but the result, four lengthy pieces work out quite well. Its probably everything you would expect from such a collaboration (you could debate whether that is good or bad), but the gentle, sustaining, of course drone – a word that can’t be avoided when talking about Celer nor Onodera – like atmospherics work quite well, but what seems interesting is that many of the field recordings go unprocessed into the mix. Lots of rain, water, animals, street sounds, stuff that seems to be picked up with contact microphones and such like, and they bathe quite well in the string of sounds woven together on the various instruments. They add a great spice to the music, which doesn’t stick that much in the world of ‘just’ drones too much. Beautifully ringing overtones, ‘heavy’ street sounds, air traffic and crackling of leaves: together they create a mighty fine aural landscape. Beautiful. (FdW)

Celer, formazione tanto prolifica da avere sempre qualche titolo in circolazione, sebbene la sua esistenza sia stata bruscamente interrotta lo scorso anno a seguito della prematura scomparsa di Dani Baquet-Long. Ciononostante le registrazioni effettuate prima della tragica conclusione della parabola artistica ed umana del duo americano continuano a venir fuori con regolarità, come nel caso di “Engaged Touches” e “Dying Star”.

Il primo, già pubblicato nel 2009 dalla stessa Home Normal e immediatamente andato fuori catalogo, è una romantica elegia ambient derivata dall’estensivo sfaldamento di suoni acustici in forma di pura tessitura, reiterati loops di archi e pianoforte a rinvigorire una rinnovata idea di tappezzeria sonora à la Eno. Il tutto con quella grande delicatezza e serenità che hanno distinto, pur nella sventura, l’intero arco vitale del progetto di Dani e Will Long, entità concepita da un evidente atto d’amore.

Risalgono invece al 2008 le incisioni pubblicate nel secondo. In questo caso la scelta strumentale si orienta su mezzi ridotti, solo un sintetizzatore analogico e un mixer attraverso i quali vengono veicolati suoni flebilissimi, a tratti solo intuibili (consigliato l’ascolto in cuffia con volume limitato all’ottanta per cento della potenza), a stabilire un dialogo d’intimità con l’ascoltatore.

– Nicola Catalano

I’m writing this entry with a request to listeners. As you may know, when Celer began, all of our releases (for the first 2-3 years) were handmade, in hand-cut, hand-painted cases, and each copy had individual, personalized artwork, all created by Danielle.

Now looking back, I realize how great it would have been if we had scanned all of the covers, for some sort of artwork retrospective, however it wasn’t the case, and we never knew we’d stop making them, or that we’d even care about it in the future. There’s no way to predict such things, and maybe I know better now, but that’s also why I’m buried up to my neck in boxes of stuff.

I have a request to you, the listener, at this time:

Do you own any of the handmade self-releases of Celer?

I have decided to begin collecting scans of all of the covers that I have, and want to include all that I can find in a book for the future, of such things. If anyone would be willing to contribute scans of their own collection, I would be glad to include them in this book, and give them credit.

If interested, please send high-quality scans (or high-quality photos of non-flat releases)

I appreciate your support, and hope to hear from some of you!

Many thanks,

Ein wunderbares Nachthimmelfoto von Danielle Baquet-Long ziert das Klappcover. Die jung verstorbene Künstlerin ist immer noch allgegenwärtig in der liebenden Erinnerung ihres Celer-Partners und Ehemanns Will Long. Die Kollaboration mit dem ähnlich umweltbewussten Japaner basiert auf geteilten Vorlieben für feierabendliche Stimmungen, Natureinsamkeit, einer Sehnsucht nach Veränderung, die einen in der Nähe von Flughäfen erfasst. Onodera, 2007 mit dem DRONE-Gütesiegel versehen, tönt die vier gemeinsamen Dröhnscapes mit Gitarrensound und Geige, Celer mit Strings, Theremin, Ocarina. Basis sind aber Feldaufnahmen, wie der schöne Einstieg in ‚An Imaginary Tale of Lost Vernacular‘ mit den Schreien von Wildgänsen. Verlorene Heimatsprache heißt auch verlorenes Zuhause. Ausserhalb von Arkadien bleibt nur ‚The Street Of A Rainy, Gray Day‘ und auf Bahnhöfen und in der trappelnden, geschwätzig lärmenden Masse ein Bewusstsein, auch ‚A Renewed Awareness of Home‘. Balsam für die wunde Seele ist der Drone, sonores, summendes, wenn auch noch dunkles Gedröhn. Beschwörender noch ist die rituelle Litanei eines japanischen Volksbrauchs. Ich halte es da mit Ernst Bloch: Die wirkliche Genesis ist nicht am Anfang, sondern am Ende, und sie beginnt erst anzufangen, wenn Gesellschaft und Dasein radikal werden, das heißt sich an der Wurzel fassen… Hat er (der Mensch) sich erfasst … so entsteht in der Welt etwas, das allen in die Kindheit scheint und worin noch niemand war: Heimat. [BA 68 rbd]

Anonymous in itself,
and an expert in
acid management,

the leaf falls in summer
faster than
we can catch it —
though it merely proposes

so slight and indistinct,
and feebly —

ever-present and absent
in our summer.

Danielle Baquet-Long, 2003

‘The Die That’s Caste’ is packaged in a mini DVD/half size case, 3″cdr white printable, numbered edition, limited to 100 copies, with cover photography taken by Ana Zarco in Cramond, Scotland,
in August 2010. Layout and audio mastering by m.a.tolosa.

Available directly from con-v

A special website for Two Acorns has also been created by the wonderful Kitchen studio, who I owe an incredible amount of thanks to for this, and all of their help with Generic City.

Generic City is the debut release of Two Acorns, presented in a custom-designed CD package created by mondii with photography by Danielle Baquet-Long and mastered by Taylor Deupree.

Press Release:

“For this collaboration work, I made a lot of field recordings. Songs of migratory birds that come to a big lake only in winter, the sound of breaking ice, frozen on a lake, the peal of huge bells in a temple, voices in prayer to the Buddha, footsteps in the subway, machine sounds at a construction site, rain flowing into a steel pipe, the oscillation sound of rubbing iron which was recorded through a contact mic set on steel, the conversations of people walking in the city, noise of vehicles and trucks, kids voices from an elementary school and so on. Like a time trip to transcend places these sound-scapes are presented as a imaginary tale. To collaborate with foreign artists became a chance for facing Japan again for me. Reflecting on each of our localities to compose let us be aware anew of the vernacular which has been lost in the global world.” – Yui Onodera

“We contributed many instrument sounds and field recordings, the streets of LA, rain on our doorstep, water draining into the gutter, cars passing on wet and slippery streets, people walking on their way home from work, talking in an airport baggage claim, airliners flying over, riding bikes through traffic, conversations in restaurants, the Metro Link train in LA. In mixing, since we were working with someone’s instrument sounds and field recordings from a city that we haven’t visited, much was left to our imagination to re-create an environment and city setting. When these two entirely different cities came together it created an all new way of looking at and hearing the city’s movements around us.” – Danielle Baquet-Long, Will Long

Available directly through Two Acorns

Also available from these stores: Darla, Experimedia, Infraction, Playing By Ear, Databloem, Norman Records, Slow Flow, Rhythm Online, Boa Melody Bar, Boomkat, and Basses Frequences

998 copies. Stoughton mini-lp gatefold 2CD sleeve. 12 art prints and photographs by Peter Lograsso. Mastered by Corey Fuller.

Press Release:

“In February of 2008, Dani and I recorded, mixed, and completed the music for ‘Salvaged Violets’. The words came as the subject line of a short poem, sent to me over email, included with an unrelated question. During these weekdays, our working schedules were almost the opposite, but we spoke over email constantly. Until recently, I did not notice how similar this was to our beginnings, sending letters as we were on different sides of the country. With no conceptual idea in mind, and since we were apart for so much time during the weekdays, we decided to begin ‘Salvaged Violets’, and see what came of it. Every night when I returned home, before sleeping, I would spend time working on the music that Dani had worked on through the afternoon, and had left on the desk. Every afternoon, she would find a different version to work on that I had left, and this continued for some time. When together, we would sip our tea, laugh at silly jokes, cook, watch television, and so on. There was no need for longing while we were together. There was always laughing, pots and pans clanging, or a muttering television. In forming ‘Salvaged Violets’, we did not mix it in a particular arranged order. It was mixed simply by the order it was first played, compiling many miniature sections rolled into one. In this case, they were rolled into two. Nothing was discarded, nothing was rearranged. As the sound changed over time, the original form did not. When it was finally complete, we listened together, for the first time. I remember how familiar it seemed, yet I also felt that so much of it was unknown, and undefined. More than a year later, in September of 2009, I revisited the recordings for the first time since 2008. At this time, it was being mastered by our good friend Corey Fuller, so I was still listening to the original. Riding my bike through the endless suburban subdivisions, through the busy downtown streets, I listened repeatedly, for days, over and over. Something was familiar, but so much I was unable to recall, and yet I was able to relate. I returned home, put my bike against the door, and took my headphones off. There, in the still silence, I think I understood finally what it was about.” Will Thomas Long, December 2009

Available directly from Infraction Records