Archive for January, 2011

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).


Catching me totally unprepared, Celer´s gorgeous piece The Die That´s Caste (recorded in 2007), concludes with some dialogue from Michaelangelo Antonioni´s 1975 film, ”The Passenger”: “Can I ask you one question now?” “One you can, yes.” “Only one, always the same. What are you running away from?” Which leaves me wondering if I´ve gotten it entirely wrong.

It´s a startlingly downbeat end to a piece which absolutely shimmers with light and orchestral richness. As usual, the duo blended an array of instruments – in this instance, theremin, strings, electronics, bells and tapes and samples – into a purr, which rises, rises, or perhaps comes closer, until it fills the entire frame. In doing so, it becomes lighter, brighter, like a sunrise. When, as the melody has expanded so large that it swells beyond melody and has become completely amorphous, the exchange is spoken, and the enchantment pops like an overfilled balloon.

Perhaps I was fooled; perhaps this is not meant to be uplifting. It´s title, strangely misspelling the common phrase ”the die has been cast”, is itself a metaphor to express no going back. The necessary choice has been made, it´s too late to change your mind. And now it becomes a sobering record. Though no less breathtakingly beautiful.


Un très beau disque, le premier à paraître chez Two Acorns, une collaboration entre Yui Onodera et le duo Celer (Will Long et Danielle Baquet-Long). Le premier 16 minutes (“An Imaginary Tale of Lost Vernacular”) est un splendide voyage sonore qui commence par des chants d’oiseaux migratoires pour se terminer par une boîte à musique. Enregistrements de terrain, doux instruments (violon, piano, theremin) et électroniques sont les éléments de ces délicats collages sonores. Rich en feeling.

A very fine record, the first one released on Two Acorns, a collaboration between Yui Onodera and the duo Celer (Will Long and Danielle Baquet-Long). The first 16-minute track (“An Imaginary Tale of Lost Venacular”) is a beautiful aural journey starting with migratory bird songs and ending with a music box. Field recordings, quiet instruments (violin, piano, theremin) and electronics are the building blocks for these delicate sound collages. Rich in feeling


Generic City (TWO ACORNS 2A01) is a collaboration between the Japanese artiste Yui Onodera and Celer, a project which envelops the talents of Will Long (who runs the Celer label, of which Two Acorns is a tributary) and Danielle Baquet-Long. The team have put together several original and contemporary field recordings, many of them inseparable from an urban locale, but birds, trees, and weather all manage to wing their way into the conversation too. Above all else, there seems have been some lengthy considerations and ponderments taking place by the creators about the culture and characteristics of the environments that surround them, not taking anything for granted and using the work as a means of interrogating what it means to be Japanese, for example. Between them they stress such aspects as time travel, imagination and story-telling, which might be read as interesting mental strategies for escaping the confines of everyday life. What emerges are four fairly dreamy and disconnected episodes of meandering near-bliss, sometimes augmented by additional electronics and musical instruments, all melted down through the nuclear fission of the mixing desks.


Will Long’s Two Acorns label proffers it’s debut release, an album predominately of a seamless interweaving of field recordings and drones. It examines, takes note, documents and appreciates two cities, specifically Celer’s (Danielle Baquet-Long, Will Long) Los Angeles and Yui Onodera’s Tokyo, of which the melded Generic City is formed. The gulls cry wakes the album as closer recording zooms to the cry as cacophony and the discrete background movement of the city occurs while drone sound is introduced as a low solemn presence. Cut to the crunch of footsteps along a linear tone. Such description could be maintained for the whole album, it would end up being a scenic narrative not unlike the script to a nature and urban environment documentary without a narration.

The shear amount of field recordings is impressive, and the quality of the recording techniques gives a distinct sharpness and honed in attention to the sounds with incidental sound at a minimum. To imagine the ratio of included material to discarded would be radically lopsided, then the speculated time to prepare the base material for the concept is a remarkable feat only made reasonable by digital recording. To merely quote Yonodera’s sample list: “Songs of migratory birds that come to a big lake only in winter, the sound of breaking ice, frozen on a lake, the peal of huge bells in a temple, voices in prayer to the Buddha, footsteps in the subway, on the ground, made by coming and going people, machine sounds at a construction site, rain flowing into a steel pipe with a hard sound, the oscillation sound of rubbing iron which was recorded through a contact mic set on steel, the conversation of people walking in the city, noise of vehicles and trucks, kids voices from an elementary school, and so on” Or Celer’s samples: “rain on our doorstep, water draining into the gutter, cars passing on wet and slippery streets, people walking on their way home from work, talking in an airport baggage claim, crosswalks, airliners flying over, taxi rides, riding bikes through traffic, conversations in restaurants, the Metro Link train in Los Angeles, and walking on quiet streets.”

All held together by wavering tones and drones which sing at times, as if all the samples had been dropped into a Tibetan singing bowl, which infused all things its resonant tendency. In doing so it links together a causal chain that joins the cities together and weaves the incidentals into a coherent story. Or rather four tracks of discrete snapshots of this imagined home remotely gathered and fused with Onodera’s electronics, guitar, violin, piano and musical box along with Celer’s mixing board, cello, violin, piano, theremin, electronics and ocarina. The instruments often so removed from their normative practice as to become indistinguishable from the bustle of the imaginary city. They are fused together by a strange alchemy that throws them into the unknown everyday beauty as this collaboration gently rescues the everyday from its seemly monotony and creates a meditative tableau of radiance. The mastering of Taylor Dupree is a distinct part of the beauty, it heightens the sublime attaching an immediacy and weight to strong impulses that challenge the psyche and holds back to let the weave of sounds be the focal point at other times. It is a very impressive debut to a label, an arresting ambient album of crisp field recordings and immaculate drones, it weaves the thread of beauty through the everyday and widens our sense of the real. The title of the last track sums up the inclination and achievement of the album, ‘A renewed sense of Home’.


A personal statement first. Celer belongs amidst the infrequent entities worthy of being regularly followed in the field of next-to-inert electronica (formerly known as “ambient”, but let’s not limit ourselves: this is valid for a lot of musical varieties). Will Long – as was his late wife Dani Baquet-Long – is a solid human specimen, differently from countless buffoons hiding behind cryptic monikers or pseudo-anonymity to generate interest and sell more CDs full of ever-identical snoozers, usually after having managed to produce a decent one. This art-killing process is systematically encouraged by the subtly devious organization created by superficially broadminded press members and bloggers (which those no-hopers always find a way to connect with, the ultimate ambition of their “artistic” quest finally accomplished, according to the following scheme: undeserving musician goes to gregarious blogger, gregarious blogger goes to official channel, undeserving musician becomes all the rage through the official channel). Back to Celer: sorting out the right people from the entangled threads of brainless button pushers is the foremost reason for my ongoing reporting on the duo’s past and impending releases, not to mention the sheer beauty of the music. Someone outside the deadline canon might actually see colours in these sounds.

CELER – The Die That’s Caste

Essentially a 17-minute cycle, this 3-inch CD starts with strikingly resounding lows generating a superimposition of abnormally affecting vibrations and throbs. After a short while the scene mutates: a simple harmonic progression repeats itself over and over, utterly misshapen in diaphanously hazy fashion, an undersea orchestra performing a requiem for buoyancy. This gradually continues until all we hear is – again – an impenetrable mass of sunken reverberations whose shades range from slightly metallic to completely oneiric. A woman asks a question to a man in the final seconds, the lingering lack of answers closing this brief and intense piece, destined to nonstop spinning. (Con-V)

CELER – Dying Star

Despite its more than partial dissimilarity from the genre’s originator’s sonorities, this CD would surely be approved by the very Brian Eno as a precious emblem of the influence of his actions on the new breed of artists inhabiting contiguous sonic districts. The Longs exclusively utilized an analogue synthesizer and a mixing board to concretize eight tracks of mind-comforting, daydreaming soundscapes whose depth is directly proportional to their structural plainness. The gentleness of these placidly wavering masses is priceless; mostly, they’re shaped by the layering of major chords with added hues that alter them just a tiny bit, leaving the fundamental texture perceptible. The music calmly establishes its incidence in the psyche, neither cheerfully not dismally. A suspended state that goes on for almost 50 minutes, the perfect complement for an environment of unspoken reflection or quietly meticulous activity. (Dragon’s Eye)

CELER – Cursory Asperses

Unforgivably, I arrived at this unsung masterpiece (released in 2008) only last Christmas, the reason being the thin sleeve of the promo causing its disappearance amidst piles of CDs still waiting for a review (think about it, musicians and label managers: cost-effective packaging can cause your music to be forgotten in the middle of nowhere). The type of mute sorrow elicited by this eight-part suite is a classic for Celer and for this reviewer, who’s re-listening to Cursory Asperses in a cold afternoon where a pallid light and a discolored sky get married, the sun rays incapable of really warming the surrounding atmosphere of silence, in turn highlighting the almost complete nudity of the trees around the house. The bulk of the album sounds very similar to a quiet lament by a choir of waning figures accompanied by fluttering blurs of harmonic dust, the effect all the more surprising when one reads that the sources include piano, strings, bells, Theremin, whistle and field recordings besides the voice. The track titles also seem to allude to a corporeal departure (“The Peregrine Birders Of Phantom Forests” and “The Impotence Of Decelerated Self-Importance” are private favourites). There are sections in which a sort of subterranean pressure appears, and others in which we feel like floating inside a dirigible; the hollow tails of hovering chords heard between the 25th and the 29th minute literally made my heart dissolve. However, excessively detailed descriptions won’t do additional favours to this splendid work. Trace a copy without hesitation: this is definitely a milestone of present-day etherealness, among Celer’s absolute tops. (Slow Flow)


7000 miles, with new beginnings in every turn. Eaves are adorned with dripping Christmas lights, and Indian food with a view of near-empty streets. The baby girl across from us wouldn’t stop looking, but there’s something happy about that, in everything that she can’t express. String quartets and over-expressive musicians, and drifting into sleep. The colors of the morning light seemed to match perfectly, and I wonder if it was just so long ago, or if I ever felt this way before. To me, you’re everything that is wonderful.

‘Action is character’. – F Scott Fitzgerald

A happy new year to all of you 🙂