Those acquainted with the name Celer may know it signifies a strong and steadfast voice speaking for Cottage Industry Artisans in a Loop-U-Like Plug-in Age. No Luddites, mind, for their string-driven textures find fellowship between organic instrumentation and digital manipulation. This craftsmanship brings with it sonorities of particulate richness, albeit remaining within the dynamic of a languorous sprawl of narrowly navigated sound colour, with some interesting internal variations across three recent specimens from the field surveyed below.
Will Long’s narrative of his and partner Dani’s recording of Salvaged Violets trails its release. Briefly, their incompatible work schedules meant a period inhabiting a world apart, during which a modus operandi akin to file exchange developed. Untypically for Celer, no concept drove SV – none but a decision to begin and see what came of it. Each night, on return home, Will would find and fiddle with what Dani had left from her afternoons; each afternoon, she’d discover a different version left for her to work on, this continuing for some time. No re-arrangement on finishing, simply sequencing in the order it was first played, rolling multiple miniatures into two long-form tracts, with nothing discarded; despite sound changes over time, original form was preserved. On final completion, first listen was attended by a sense of familiarity, but with a certain unknown undefined quality. Over a year later, Will revisited the recordings, again finding something familiar, but much unrecallable, unrelateable. This narrative – all the more poignant knowing of Dani’s subsequent demise – makes a congruent companion to the release of Salvaged Violets, imbuing it with the same mixture of familiar and ineffable. This their second coming for Infraction makes for an interesting contrast, sounding sparse, almost lowercase, next to the weighty wellings of 2007’s Discourses of the Withered. Perhaps closest to a stretched-out Nacreous Clouds, these are intimate epic vignettes, lowlight symphonies by a toy-orchestra dissolved in digital light, long meditative motifs, suspended and revolved, bleeding one into the other. Though Violets may seem to dwell obsessively on its loops and chord progressions with their endless recursion, the deep listener will be rapt at the shuttle of the pair’s scrutiny and retooling, from his to hers, dark materials and light alike.
As if Celer’s output had not been prolific enough spread over a range of imprints, Will Long now has his own, Two Acorns. Naturally, it’s Celer that inaugurate it, this a collaboration with Yui Onodera. The usual droning introspection is present but Generic City is distinguished by its extensive deployment of field recordings – from both Los Angeles and Japan. Pitched tonefloat cedes much of the sonic ground to unpitched – migratory birds, ice breaking on a frozen lake, temple bells and restaurant ambience, public transport systems. Synergies come from Onodera, representing Japan’s variety of customs – children playing, temple bells, voices in prayer to Buddha, interspersed with guitar, electronics, violin, cello, theremin and ocarina. Rather than standard enviro-drone practice, where found sound is threaded liminally through the music, the locative input is given its head, with music minimised to punctuative sparse layers of resonant drift. The whole is poised between luminous ambience and transformative acousmatic in an absorbing portal into the audio topography of urban spaces. Generic City alludes to the idea that musicians are subconsciously influenced by their environment, and the way that the artists’ music blends with nature strongly represents this idea.
Finally, good things coming in threes, a dainty Celer 3″ courtesy of Miguel Tolosa’s con-v label plopped serendipitously atop the review pile, just in time for inclusion. The Die That’s Caste is housed in a mini DVD case enfolded with a Scots shoreline scene. A narrative between light dawning and turning dark suggests itself, the more tenebrous hue perhaps brought out by conspirings with con-v’s curator: M. Tolosa’s Ubeboet met with approval in fn’s Twenty Hertz profile, and there’s a certain shared sensibility evidenced in the dark-light ambiguities of its single track, “The Die That’s Caste.” Within the recursive build-up and fall-back movements of the piece come microvariations in tidal timbre. Vari-pitched string tones, edged with delay-haloes, well up into slow-motion eddies, a light keynote darkening late in the day with a wooze of billowing spirals gathering. Undercurrents in dark water swirl beneath a deceptive serenity, as a silver cloud sky is inkily smeared. Diaphanous plumes outfold in timelapse, sighing under a barely suppressed welter of sonorous sustain. A finely choreographed seventeen minutes.
Review by Alan Lockett