Three Celer releases in three different formats—CD, cassette, and ten-inch vinyl—round out a year in which a veritable mini-library of recordings by Danielle Baquet-Long and Will Long appeared. As always, each of the three leaves its own unique mark on the ever-expanding Celer universe.
The cassette-only release (111 copies), Honey Moon, was recorded at the Celer home on the Autumnal Equinox, 2008 and is reminiscent in style and spirit of the tape loops-driven style of the duo’s early, hand-made recordings. The recording’s six pieces distill into aural form the experience one might have of gazing into the night sky for an hour, as waves of tones ebb and flow, gently shuddering as they stretch their sonic tendrils across the upper expanses. From the deep space drone of the opener “Clinging to the Breath Under Our Blankets” to the lulling streams of shimmer and pulsation in “Moon Scrap” and delicate, evanescent swirls of “Bathing in Brilliance,” Honey Moon provides a two-sided excursion (the first twenty-four minutes, the second thirty-four) into immersive ambient-drone splendour.
Weavings of a Rapid Disenchantment (a limited edition of 350 copies), which splits two tracks across seventeen minutes of black vinyl and uses strings, electronics, and field recordings of thunder and a freight train as source material, whips up a powerful rumble and gritty industrial churn during side one’s “Retreading Obsessions.” Laid down in Mississippi during 2007, the piece relentlessly barrels forth until it disappears into a blurry cloud mass. Though created in New York City, the B-side’s “The Acceptance of a Paralysed Infinity” takes the listener on a blissed-out and starry-eyed tour through the upper spheres in the form of a black hole drone from whose center buried melodies struggle to escape. The release could be regarded as a summative portrait of Celer in miniature form.
Though every Celer release is notable in its own right, Generic City is especially notable, not only because it’s the debut release on Will Long’s Two Acorns label, but because its sound-world is opened up dramatically due to the collaborative involvement of Japanese artist Yui Onodera. What enhances the material even more is the wealth of field recordings that Celer and Onodera compiled from Los Angeles and Japan, respectively, and integrated into the recording’s four pieces. Onodera contributes sounds of temple bells, voices in prayer, breaking ice, migratory birds, subway footsteps, construction site machinery, vehicles, trucks, children’s voices, and so on, while Celer weaves sounds of rain, cars, airplanes, bicycles, restaurant conversations, and the streets of Los Angeles into the mix (strings, ocarina, theremin, guitar, electronics, and piano are also used as sound sources). With Celer’s customary drone shimmer threading pathways through the field recordings, the resultant sound-scapes inhabit geographical spaces that collectively transcend their Western-Eastern origins and become, therefore, quite literally a Generic City.
“An Imaginary Tale of Lost Vernacular” opens with an aggressive blend of seagull calls before, firstly, transmuting into a classic Celer drone of iridescent shimmer and, secondly, a sparkling wonderland of bells, chimes, and tinkles before a gleeful music box melody and crunchy footsteps bring the piece to a close. Much like the opening piece, “Waiting Until Something Else Happens” exudes the character of a travelogue, with the initial ambient-drone pulsation gradually giving way to airport boarding announcements, crowd noise, and the overhead roar of airplanes. In keeping with its title, “The Street of a Rainy, Gray Day” feels like a sound portrait of a city’s denizens going about their business despite the nuisance of a nonstop drizzle when construction machinery operates and conversations persist amidst the rain-soaked streets. During its opening minutes, “A Renewed Awareness of Home” parts company from the album’s other tracks in being so stripped-down. A ghostly ambiance is generated where even the tiniest sound is amplified—until, that is, the rhythmic chanting of voices in prayer emerges to fill the space. Generic City stands out from the Celer canon for being such a deft integration of field recordings and ambient-drone elements; the forty-eight-minute result acts as an engrossing boarding pass that allows one to experience the expansive vision of its creators.