This unique husband-and-wife duo only existed for a few short years, but during that tragically brief window, they managed to record and release such a staggering avalanche of material that even Masami Akita might raise an eyebrow at their tireless pace. As such, navigating their sprawling discography of mostly limited edition releases is a daunting and complicated task, particularly since the difference between great minimal drone and not-so-great minimal drone is very blurry and difficult to articulate. Thankfully, this (one of their rare few vinyl releases) provides an excellent starting point.
The works here were culled from recordings made by Will Long and Dani Baquet-Long over an 18-month period ending in July 2008, about a year before Dani unexpectedly died from heart failure. Although presumably absent from the mixing and assembling of the finished album, Baquet-Long’s presence remains quite prominent, as she posthumously provides many of the album’s most vibrant elements through her field recordings from Nepal and her perversely festive cover art. Also, of course, she is responsible for a lot of the music, though it is nearly impossible to tell which instruments are being played at any given time (or by whom), as the Celer sound is heavily blurred and processed. Their closest stylistic kin is probably Disintegration Loops-era William Basinski, as both artists have a propensity for repetition, haziness, and slow-motion drifting, but there are some considerable differences as well.
In characteristic Celer fashion, each side of this release is essentially comprised of just one lengthy piece, but given multiple titled sections that are quite difficult to isolate. The music itself is essentially drone in the most “drone” sense possible, as the pair employ their arsenal of pipe organs, strings, and tapes to create a vaporously shifting bed for a host of swelling and shimmering other indistinct sounds to emerge from and disappear back into. Such an aesthetic has the potential to be a bit on the dull side, but Celer wisely intersperse their narcotic reveries with untreated field recordings of boisterous crowds from Dani’s stay in Kathmandu (as well as a particularly poignant old movie snippet). The overall effect is like being in an alternately warm and eerily desolate dream, but sometimes drifting back into semi-consciousness to find a somewhat unfamiliar world. It can be a bit disquieting and sad, but it can also be quite absorbing.
While some of this material was recorded as much as four years ago and has mysteriously avoided being released by a duo that that has historically had no problem in hitting double-digits for releases within a single year, Long has succeeded in shaping the orphaned pieces into a very coherent and satisfying whole. I am by no means a Celer completist, but Vestiges of an Inherent Melancholy does not fall far short of my current favorite Celer release (2009’s Capri) and offers the added perk of not being out of print (also, the glossy cover art is rather striking too, for people who like pretty things).