Celer & Yui Onodera’s collaboration, Generic City, is the inaugural release on Celer’s new label Two Acorns…

The function of good artworks, I have often read, is to provoke a reaction. Talented artists are able to elicit a response – they hold a mirror up to a person’s perception of themselves, their place in the world; making them confront a perspective that they hold and forcing them to re-evaluate it in a new light.

For example, a painting in a gallery that you dismiss on the first viewing, but find yourself drawn back to in curiosity. Stepping back a bit. Angling your head. Looking at it from a diagonal angle. There’s SOMETHING about it, but you’re not quite sure what…

Your reaction to it is solely based on what you bring to it; you are responding to what you see by reacting to your own point of view.

Those that live in cities will likely have a similar reaction to Generic City. Everyone’s perception of a metropolis is different, and this release will conjure different memories and impressions from one person to the next. It is sufficiently abstract to be able to project your own experience onto it, but also possessing enough character to be able to take a message from it.

The four tracks presented are artful meshes of field recordings, electronics, guitar, cello, violin, piano, environmental sound, Theremin, and ocarina; all recorded and composed from 2007 to 2009. All are long, none shorter than nine minutes and the longest clocking in at close to seventeen, although the length of the tracks is deceptive – it sounds different once you are on the inside. The field recordings are of varying tones and textures, some quiet and reticent, some more rambunctious and unruly.

On first viewing, these paintings do not seem to have a common theme, but upon further listens a thread emerges – in the first track, the electronic sounds slowly become less and less processed, finishing with a solitary music box. Inspection of the notes accompanying the release mention that the musical sounds were made from that one original acoustic recording of the music box, made dozens of ways, fading into the instrument by itself.

The track, “An Imaginary Tale of Lost Vernacular” is a fitting starting point, an enigmatic and intriguing mood piece that over multiple listens reveals different facets of itself. It’s representative of the album as a whole – it presents initially as quite aloof but repeated exposure draws a response from the listener, depending on what they are bringing to it.

Worth seeking the release out for the second track alone, such is the strength of “Waiting Until Something Else Happens”. A pretty evocative drone introduction followed by stereoscopic sound design. An artful rumination on plane noise to fade.

“The Street Of A Rainy, Gray Day” is just that – reflected sunlight off the street, clicks, raindrops and puddles. There’s an atonal simulation of nondescript background clatter that certainly adds to the effect. Some shuddering tremolo tones add to the tension, and passing conversation and bird noise could well be the street heard from the alley, echoing and vague.

“A Renewed Awareness of Home” is unexpectedly musical. It has the quality that I’m sure all field recordists aspire to, in that it’s a melodic soundscape, not merely a collection of textures. It most overtly captures the Eastern influence that is discernable throughout the tracks.

The hypnotic nature of all the tracks is a strong point – it has a lulling effect, creating a space that gives a different context to the textures presented in the recordings. I noticed at one point that I’d been paying attention to the interaction and placing of the musical parts, and had completely failed to notice that one field texture had faded into a completely different sound, and that the tone of the whole piece had changed without me detecting it. Taylor Deupree handled mastering, and the canvas is surprisingly even given the considerable difference in tones used.

It is that rarest of beasts – on an initial sighting it seems to be perfunctory and unremarkable, but upon further inspection it reveals itself to be an elegant and thoughtful work, deserving of repeat viewing.

Like good artwork.

By talented artists.

– Review by Alex Gibson for Fluid Radio