Archive for September, 2010

Dying Star might be the purest Celer recording to date, though such a claim might seem questionable given the degree of purity that characterizes every release issued by Will Long and the late Danielle Baquet-Long under their project name. But consider: Dying Star was realized using nothing more than a vintage analog synthesizer and mixing board—no field recordings or instrument sound sources of the kind heard on other Celer recordings found their way into the recording process. Adding to the recording’s ascetic design, the eight-part work was completely improvised, and no overdubs or post-processing were involved either when it was recorded in the fall of 2008. In keeping with its elegiac title, the work exudes an hermetic and retiring character that can’t help but make it feel like gesture of mourning or requiem for the premature passing of Danielle and the eventual end to the Celer project itself—a memento mori, in other words (in Celer’s own words, the recording “stands as a fading presentation of memory, time, and loss, set against the ending day”); the track title used for the work’s longest part, the eleven-minute “I Imagine My Hand Holds Yours” would appear to confirm as much. As such, Dying Star unspools at a low volume level—the recommendation is included that one should listen to it via headphones with the volume set to eighty percent—with each graceful part appearing and slowly fading away, clearing a space for the next one to repeat the pattern. Throughout the recording’s fifty minutes, soft string- and whistling, organ-like tones rise and fall and advance and recede, often at levels that are so close to inaudible they create a level of tension that’s interestingly at odds with Dying Star’s overall peaceful character. The gradual withering away that occurs as each part moves towards its close proves, in fact, to be one of the most exquisite things about the recording, and the degree of detail is so purifed that the tiny starburst that appears at the start of the closing part, “Flickers (Goodnight),” has a far greater impact than such a small accent would otherwise have.

October 2010

battiti – sept 22nd 2009

MATHIAS DELPLANQUE: Passeport 5 (Lille)
from “Passeports” (Bruit Clair 03/Crónica 048-2010)

AUTISTICI: Workshop for Ambitious Dreamers
from “Slow Temperature. Early Works Vol. II” (Audiobulb Records AB030)

CELER: Part 2 (excerpt)
from “Engaged Touches” (Home Normal HOME N002R)

from “Shoals” (12k 12K1060)

CELER: Pouring Me Into the Rest of You
from “Dying Star” (Dragon’s Eye Recordings DER005)

AUTISTICI: Carved from Lips
from “Slow Temperature. Early Works Vol. II” (Audiobulb Records AB030)

MATHIAS DELPLANQUE: Passeport 3 (Dieppe)
from “Passeports” (Bruit Clair 03/Crónica 048-2010)

Творческая деятельность «Celer» была окончательно приостановлена в июле 2009 года, но до сих пор продолжают выходить работы этого американского дуэта, коих накопилось, надо думать, еще на пятилетку вперед. Материал «Dying Star» бы записал осенью 2008 года и необычен, прежде всего, тем минимумом инструментов, с помощью которых были созданы эти восемь треков. Обычно Дэниель и Вилльям Лонг использовали звучание пианино, скрипок, флейт, полевые записи и прочие найденные звуки, замедляя их и перемешивая до состояния полной статики, но в этот раз у них в руках оказались только старый аналоговый синтезатор и микшерный пульт. Нельзя сказать, что полученный результат чем-то особенно отличается от прочих, весьма многочисленных работ дуэта – погружение в их обширную дискографию позволяет сделать выводы, что столь замечательные образцы неоклассики, привкус трайбл-эстетики и реверансы в сторону Брайна Ино и Стива Роача, явленные на таких, не побоюсь этого слова, шедеврах, как «The Everything And The Nothing» и «Engaged Touches», представлены в творчестве супругов скорее как приятные неожиданности и мимолетные эксперименты, а так звучание «Celer», что здесь, что в девяносто процентах их записей, тяготеет к минималистичному, неторопливому эмбиенту, манипуляциям с одинокой звуковой волной, неторопливо изгибаемой и преобразуемой на фоне тишины. Разбивка на композиции весьма условна – все фрагменты альбома перетекают один в другой, не прерываются ни на секунду, являя миру монолитную вещь, полностью передающую в своем звучании название альбома и служащую отличным саундтреком для заката, запечатленного на обложке. Однотонные звуки проносятся мимо, иногда заползая на территорию высоких и неуютных частот (впрочем, это фирменный прием музыкантов), иногда срываясь на вибрацию, но при этом все равно создают вокруг слушателя располагающую, «интимную атмосферу» – надо только запастись хорошими наушниками и отгородится от реальности. Да, еще хорошо, чтобы в окна падали лучи заходящего солнца, остывая и растворяясь в темноте вместе с последними звуками «Flickers». Если подобные эксперименты со звучанием не вызывают у вас стойкое отторжение (вроде бы не должны), то этот релиз подойдет вам стопроцентно.

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.

Celer comprised by husband and wife Will Long y Danielle Basquet-Long formed in 2004 with a string of releases, remixes and compilation appearances in several independent labels in North America, Europe and Japan. Danielle was involved in education, poetry, painter and she was music-instrumentalist and vocalist. She passed away in July 2009. Will is a published writer. “Dying Star” was recorded in 2008 and it was an improvisation work using an analog synthesizer with no overdubs and post-processing. The album is recorded in a very low volume and the waves of drones spread out through an endless soundtrack of a perfect setting for the end of the day.

Celer se compone de Will Long y Danielle Basquet-Long, marido y mujer quienes se formaron en 2004 editado varios discos, remezclas y en compilados en sellos independientes de Norte América, Europa y Japón. Danielle se desenvolvía en el campo de la educación, la poesía, pintura y era multi instrumentalista y vocalista. Falleció en julio de 2009. Will es escritor. “Dying Star” fue grabado en 2008 y fue un trabajo de improvisación en el que se utilizó sintetizador análogo, sin procesamiento ni sobre mezclas. El álbum está grabado a bajo volumen y las ondas de drones crean una infinita banda sonora para un el ocaso de final del día.

Stasis is an exciting musical tool. If used in the best sense, stasis is what makes ambient music connect to the that place where mind, soul and heart of the listener connect and starts to vibrate there. Maybe this is the reason, why a lot of people like to fall asleep to ambient music of this kind, and to give you a little glimpse into my private sphere, there is a special stack of CDs that are all collected for the purpose of supporting a gentle slide into slumber. I like sleeping a lot, by the way (another glimpse into my privacy for you – seems as if I am laying my bare soul open to you here…) because it is cheap, refreshing and provides good health. But sleeping is not the only static motion there is. Watching a swarm of little insects that move in wild, erratic and unpredictable moves but nevertheless the whole swarm seems to stay put over a certain place. The endless instream of waves at the beach. The endless hum of cars on the motorway, especially at night, looking down from the eleventh floor at the traffic below.

Celer use nothing but one analogue synthesizer and a mixing board to open up a single wave of sound, which nevertheless opens into a multitude of layers once you have immersed yourself in them, that flow gently and almost without movement from the back to the forth and back again in your mind. There is a reason they recommend headphones and low volume. It seems as if nothing at all is happening most of the time. As if time itself stands still and there is no tomorrow to come. Even though there are a couple of specifically named titles on here, it does sound like one big track of echoing and flowing sound. One hour of tranquility of this kind helps me to re-charge my energy levels for another week of stress, toil and schedules. Leaning back, feeling the soft wind around my head, the sun on my clothes, the sounds of a distant church bell and of somebody working in the kitchen through the headphones, is just a perfect moment. Thank you, whoever contributed to it, from Celer to the people near and distant and finally to nature itself for adding a constant hum and rustle. (no thanks go out to the Austrian airforce who likes to use Sunday noon for training flights…)

There is a tragic story to Celer, which I thought about leaving out of this review, as it may seem like I am trying my first steps into low brow writing and sensational journalism, but which cannot be left out once the people behind Celer are presented. Danielle Baquet-Long and Will Long were a couple and produced these intimate, subtle and sensitive pieces together, until Danielle Baquet-Long died of heart failure in 2009. Which ended Celer, but as there are still a lot of works and recordings unpublished, there is more to come I am sure. As the idea of losing someone you love is about the worst thing imaginable to me, I want to refrain from speculations about how deep and intimate relationships may also shape the music that is produced in such a constellation. It can be felt. 3 Seconds of Air (the new project by Vidna Obmana aka Fear Falls Burning) has a similar constellation plus a close friend on the second guitar. It adds something. But losing the fundaments of this, of course, puts an end to this as well.

Death is impossible to think about and even harder to come to terms with (excluding the decision to ignore it). Any good art carries with it at least a small dose something beyond our regular lives, something of the eternal mysteries of life itself (birth, death, the fact of a living, breathing nature,…) which might either be tackled philosophically or spiritually. Both are the same amount helpless. The title “dying star”, the cover showing a sundown or song titles such as “I could almost disperse” or “how I imagine my hand holds yours” put more context to the situation. It is a wonderful thing to listen to these pieces and let your mind flow steadily, remembering experiences and people past and present.

With the passing away of Danielle Baquet-Long, Celer also stopped. But her husband Will Long devotes himself to releasing all the works that they composed together. So ‘Panoramic Dreams Bathed In Seldomness’ was recorded in 2006 and 2007 and uses field recordings from Pakistan, India and Nepal, as well as a ney, skateboard, titles, cello, violin, electronics, contact microphones, micro cassettes, bontempi 9 organ, electronics, piano, reel-to-reel, splicing and mixing board. Celer has released quite some material over the years, so those who ‘know’ them, know what to expect. I wasn’t surprised by this. Well no entirely. A piece like ‘Who Feels Like Me, Who Wants Like Me, Who Doubts Any Good Will Come Of This’ is a classic textbook Celer piece: long sustaining sounds, which flow like weightless material in orbit. That is still the majority of Celer’s music and that’s good. It is what we expect, I guess, and that’s a good thing. I really didn’t expect them to change that much. What puts
the icing on this particular cake is the effective and sparse use of field recordings, which add a nice extra layer to the music, an aspect of exotica. Hissy, mysterious and creating an otherworldy aspect. That makes this particular Celer a somewhat even greater release than many others by them. (FdW)