Format: CD
Label: Home Normal
Catalog: home_n002r
Release date: 8/20/10

Out of print

Track list:
1 (Part 1) A Once and Meaningful Life / Remaining Stretches /
Separations and Reactions / Doubts of Words /
Unless They Were Beautiful

2 (Part 2) What Our Mouths Make Them / Hanging Herself on the Lonely Fifth Column
(Gramophones That Remind Us of What Sounds Once Were) /
Openings of Love (Fireworks) / Extended Sways of Silence

Release description:
The music of Will Thomas Long’s and Danielle Baquet-Long’s Celer is an absorbing combination of classic ambient, minimalism, and – perhaps as thee most distinct characteristic – overwhelming romanticism. Longinng, melancholy, nostalgia, and the like seem to be recurring themes in Will and Dani’s works. Engaged Touches begins with hypnotic sounds of a train clattering on its tracks. This departure seems to set the whole piece into a context of travel and distance, moving away from and towards something, someone. After a while these sounds give way to a rousing, majestic set of string loops. Similar phases of different field recordings and grandiose loops take turns throughout the whole work. This brings about a dynamics of contrasts: the concrete and the abstract, the particular and the general, the mundane and the exalted, and so on. The phases of string loops take up most of the album and evoke a yearning feeling of distance, grand and epic. The title, Engaged Touches, however, refers to quite the opposite, the close and intimate. It feels as if it is these kinds of touches that the string loops wailingly, albeit very gracefully, long for. This is exactly the kind of powerful romanticism that seems to define so much of Celer’s work. Because of the heavy presence of string loops Engaged Touches reminds me of some of Celer’s earlier works. I would call it a classic Celer piece, if it weren’t for the fact that their oeuvre spans only a few years back, and it would be too early to ponder the distinct phases and the internal relations in their output. Engaged Touches is another beautiful addition to the rapidly growing body of work by Celer – an oeuvre that I already consider one of thhe most important in modern ambient music. – Antti Rannisto

Press reviews:

The long-form ambient compositions of Celer (a duo made up of husband and wife team Will Thomas Long and Danielle Baquet-Long) are effortlessly appealing; the kind of music that radiates beauty from every pore without you having to over-scrutinise its every passing bar. Taking on the conventions that shape Kompakt’s Pop Ambient compilations, observing a keen sense of luscious, electronically sculpted classical romanticism, Celer seem to arrest time, casting a glacial, minimalist glow over everything they do, meaning you can hear elements of WIlliam Basinski and Stars Of The Lid in these muted torrents of sound. The twenty-six minute first piece brings together synthetic string sweeps and deep set echo, knitting field recorded location sounds into the dense fabric of it all. The effect of the sheer slowness and grandeur of it all is well worth investing time in. The second part takes up a monumental forty-minute duration, drawing on an even a deeper, darker selection of sounds than its predecessor, at one stage dipping into vaporous drones with an immense low-end presence, only to swell back into life again for a majestic slow motion crescendo. Absolutely beautiful stuff – highly recommended for followers of Basinski, Marsen Jules, Stars of the Lid etc.

Celer’s Engaged Touches finds married duo Will Thomas Long and Danielle Baquet-Long bringing their rich “sound paintings” style to the newly-created Home Normal imprint. As they’ve done in the past for Spekk, Infraction, and others, the ultra-prolific pair again blends field recordings and acoustic sounds (piano, strings, bells, whistles) into lush, mesmerizing wholes. The Celer sound transcends a single descriptor—“ambient” is too limiting, “collagistic” suggests a patchwork quality the group’s carefully-woven settings lack, “minimalism” understates the plenitude of materials a given piece presents—so one is best to think of it as a hybrid of all such tendencies. Despite having been in operation for a relatively short amount of time, Celer has established a unique space within the experimental realm.

Though the first piece begins with field recordings Danielle made during an India visit (train clatter, dining car, sleeper car, and fireworks the sound sources in this case), gauzy string melodies, romantic and elegiac in character and augmented by harp strums, dominate. Looping throughout its twenty-six-minute running time, the strings imbue “Part 01” with a lush character that renders the Celer sound even more entrancing than usual. A study in contrast, the piece seems to alternate between earth and heaven as it moves repeatedly between ethereal and earthly dimensions. A mood of graceful melancholy and quietude is sustained throughout the forty-minute “Part 02.” The opening minutes perpetuate the character of the opening setting with the focus again on swooning string motifs but the piece gradually branches out into other areas. Halfway through, it slows to near-stillness as Celer suspends waves of shimmer in the air for prolonged stretches until the strings re-assert themselves, swelling into grandiose wave-like formations and sounding even more radiant and majestic when heard after the microsound episode. Engaged Touches makes for a natural complement to the Infraction releases, Discourses of the Withered and The Everything and the Nothing, given the latter pair’s thematic focus on Danielle’s travels in India and Nepal.

Olive Music
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.

A highly emotional record, Engaged Touches is imbued with a sense of longing. With loops, strings and field recordings, this husband-wife duo have crafted a lush, captivating album that reflects long distances and separation. The first track plays train sounds off of gentle, ambient string loops that seem to stretch to infinity. Deep listening reveals a plethora of subtle undertones hiding beneath the surface. Clocking in at roughly 20 minutes, this piece is a mere warm-up for the more ambitious second track. Beginning with a dense cluster of piano notes, this 40-minute tone poem is a touch more sombre than its predecessor; it is no less gorgeous, however. That Engaged Touches was composed following a train trip that the couple took across Canada is no surprise; its grandiose bliss is the perfect summation of our vast, multifaceted landscape.

Индусы, ожидающие автобус – один из тех образов, которые семейный дуэт «Celer» привез из различных путешествий по миру. Помимо объектива камеры, улавливающей сцены из кажущейся нам экзотической жизни далеких стран, микрофоны в руках музыкантов уловили множество звуковых картин, обычных городских зарисовок, которые и вошли на альбом «Engaged Touches» в качестве пауз между непосредственно музыкой. И о индусах, и о звуках городских улиц можно смело забыть, сосредоточив все внимание на том, что Уильяму и Дениэль Лонг удалось сочинить при помощи скрипок, пианино, духовых инструментов, электронных аранжировок и пленкам.
Как и раньше, «Celer» проявляют себя мастерами малых форм, и два длинных трека на этом диске состоят на самом деле из нескольких композиций, разделенных как раз полевыми записями. Эти самые композиции, созданные из постоянно повторяющегося короткого сэмпла, уникального в каждом случае – самые красивые вещи, которые мне удалось услышать в последнее время. Выплывающие издалека прозрачные миражи на фоне атмосферных звуков напоминают ранние работы Steve Roach, такие, как «Quiet Music», например. Элементы звучания классической музыки, прозрачные и чистые партии пианино могут показаться знакомыми любителям Harold Budd. Аморфные, неуловимые, гипнотизирующие своим бесконечным повторением короткие оркестровые пассажи сливаются в монументальные полотна, теплый, размеренный и обволакивающий звук которых способен затормозить время вокруг слушателя. Неземная в своей сонной красоте концовка «Extended Sways of Silence» напомнит и что-то из Brian Eno, и многие другие классические эмбиент работы, в ряды которых этот диск имеет все шансы при должном внимании публики попасть (а тот факт, что, несмотря на недавнюю дату релиза на лейбле «Home Normal» этот альбом уже числится как «Sold Out», говорит о многом).
Из всего многообразия творчества «Celer», «Engaged Touches», пожалуй, самый разнообразный и красивый диск. Слушать бесконечно, в бесконечность погружаясь.

Décédée brutalement au début du mois de juillet, Danielle Baquet-Long formait avec son mari le duo Celer. Le couple avait fait de leur amour le catalyseur de leur art, proposant ainsi une musique d’ambiance vaporeuse et ample rapidement taxée de romantique.

Engaged Touches, qui aurait pu être un album de plus dans leur discographie extrêmement dense, donne à entendre les ultimes compositions du couple. Deux longues pièces, deux actes quasi-théâtraux divisés en tout en une dizaine de morceaux faisant office de scènes habilement articulées. Si elle ne s’écarte que rarement du sillon déjà creusé par William Basinski et autre Stars of the Lid, la musique de Celer envoûte néanmoins sans difficulté, berçant l’auditeur de ses motifs paisibles et célestes aux contours néo-classiques. La formule a beau manquer quelque peu d’originalité, le couple Long défend sa propre identité bec et ongle, et arrive au final à s’extirper avec aisance d’un créneau stylistique parvenu à quasi saturation. C’est bien là la grande force d’un album comme Engaged Touches, qui ne cesse de conférer à chaque écoute un certain émerveillement, peut-être plus encore que sur le reste de leur production.

Quoiqu’il en soit, je vous mentirais si je prétendais avoir écouté un tel album en ayant fait totale abstraction de la disparition récente de l’épouse Long. Et je ne pense pas jouer sur l’émotivité à deux balles en vous disant, peut-être cyniquement, que sa mort éclaire désormais d’une toute autre lumière la musique d’Engaged Touches. C’est que les compositions qui y sont renfermées s’y prêtent à merveille, que la mort est intrinsèque à l’idée de romantisme, et que l’un des crédos universel de l’ambient est de pousser l’esprit vers des sphères prétendues inatteignables. Que cette musique, qui se voulait dès le départ divine et empreinte d’un véritable lyrisme, peut maintenant faire pleinement le lien entre le monde des vivants et celui des morts.

Désolé mais, en ce moment, je suis ab-sent !
absent, car plongé dans d’incertains méandres d’archives mémorielles afin d’y puiser le possible souvenir d’une aussi enthousiasmante envie de faire pleuvoir toutes les éloges sur les «engaged touches » du duo Celer pour le récent, et assez formidable label Home Normal. Cette réalisation, construite en 2 parties, n’a de cesse de jouer au parfois difficile dilemme de confrontation entre abstraction chronique et réalité sommaire. Ainsi, peu ou totalement partie prenante de la grande métaphore abstraite, « engaged touches » touche à la perfection d’un genre rébarbatif car finalement assez peu innovant. Si Celer avait décidé d’écrire une nouvelle page, ils ne s’y seraient pas pris autrement. Du grand art, du TRES grand art !

Norman Records
The Celer CD wasn’t meant to be out until next week but the planets have aligned in a bit of a naughty fashion so here it is bright and early for your delectation. After releases on imprints such as Infraction and Unlabel, Engaged Touches sees the (I think) Parisian pair presenting Engaged Touches via Home Normal in a nice, shiny digipak. I just gave it a sniff to see if it’s got that crazy scent these things sometimes do but alas no, I’ll have to keep searching for a repeat of that intoxicating hit I first felt from the booklet of Suede’s Coming Up CD elsewhere. To be honest it might have sent me over the edge since the music’s beautying me out enough to begin with; the way the synthetic strings swell and recede in these extended ambient workouts must be what love feels like – stomachs turning in a warm, fuzzy glow, momentarily forgetting to breathe.. I know now why you cry but it’s something I can never do. This is a totally gorgeous album!