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