Archive for August, 2011

A little under a year ago, reviewing Celer’s then latest release Dying Star, i made the rather rash remark that with its “quietly massive majesty … [it] may just be Celer’s masterpiece” • i’m not going to retract that statement—it remains for me the most striking album in the Celer corpus—but it’s been fascinating to hear a pair of albums this year that draw very near to it, in terms of both aspiration & execution •

The first comes from the Celer-offshoot Chubby Wolf, the result of Danielle Baquet-Long’s solo explorations • As i’ve remarked in the past, left to her own devices Baquet-Long pursues a more austere, sonically complex soundworld than that of her duo work with husband Will, & new release Los que No Son Gentos is no exception • That’s not to suggest it lacks warmth—far from it—but the ‘heat’ it emits is soft & residual, not blazing; there are no overt grand gestures here • The 14 tracks are founded on slowly-moving foundations that for the most part keep themselves at a distance, not so much aloof as reserved; & their mode of expression is pithy & succinct, many of the tracks lasting under three minutes • Yet their miniature stature belies a remarkable intensity with which the music speaks • It’s a paradox neatly encapsulated in Baquet-Long’s familiarly loquacious track-titles, which (like so much poetry) are simultaneously immediate—more than once invoking desire—& alienating • One quickly realises that each track is not merely concise, but concentrated, boiled down into a richly undiluted essence, in which each shifting agglomeration of notes, each surging bass protrusion becomes utterly compelling • Thankfully, this is clearly what matters most; once again, Baquet-Long flies in the face of so much contemporary ambient music, that simply regards sounding pretty (which is, in any case, subjective) as its primary goal • Los que No Son Gentos shifts in & out of loveliness, but the weight & power of its conviction never lets up for a second • It’s perhaps perverse to single out any individual track in such a context as this, but “You are the Description that brings me out of Myself… But cannot Give Me anywhere to go” is especially impressive, bringing to mind the best work of Jonathan Coleclough •

In my first encounter with Los que No Son Gentos, i accidentally had the volume turned down lower than usual, resulting in my being forced to listen much harder than i should have needed to • But there’s nothing accidental about the dynamic restraint heard in the latest Celer album to emerge,Noctilucent Clouds • Intended as a successor to their 2008 release Nacreous Clouds, the similarities are in name only • The duo pushes their (&, thereby, the listener’s) patience further than ever before here, spending nearly 100 minutes exploring material often at the edge of audibility, a series of “slowly moving, randomly-appearing swathes of high lights, and deep blacks” (Will Long’s words) • The effect is akin to the music of Morton Feldman, where silence almost becomes as substantial as sound, & where the minutest of gestures is highly significant • The music occupies a kind of ‘steady state’, evolving slowly but irrevocably, always as from a great distance; it’s exquisite, & absolutely riveting, becoming all the more so the closer the material tends to silence • Technically, it never does, though; beneath everything else, a very soft but omnipresent layer of tape hiss keeps the music aloft at all times, cushioning it from absolute silence • The sheer breathtaking naturality of Noctilucent Clouds harks back to no less than Eno’s Music for Airports; ultimately, it stops feeling like the product of a conscious creative act, which is perhaps the best compliment one can pay it • An amazing album, best heard through headphones if you want to experience every nuance; otherwise, make sure you’re listening in a very, very quiet room •

Los que No Son Gentos is a limited edition of 200, released in June by Dragon’s Eye Recordings; while most have probably been sold by now, copies can still be had from the ever reliable Norman Records • Noctilucent Clouds suffers no such limitations, released digitally via Celer’s Bandcamp page •


En plus de Celer qu’elle formait avec son compagnon, Danielle Baquet-Long avait crééChubby Wolf, dont Dragon’s Eye grave aujourd’hui Los que no son gentos.

Parce que je n’ai pas écouté cette jeune femme de son vivant, le faire aujourd’hui me désole. Je ne peux que me rendre compte, en retard, de la façon dont elle envisageait la musique. Dans un mixeur bien à elle, elle mettait sa voix, une basse et des synthétiseurs, pour former une musique d’ambiance léchée. C’est la bande-son d’un voyage au désert en quatorze stations de variations climatiques en filigrane.

Tranquille et légère, cette musique n’est pas à emporter, mais à vivre sur place. On peut y méditer ou y rêver. Los que no son gentos est un terrain vague où l’on fait du sur-place. Le mouvement n’est pas de notre fait, il n’est pas le nôtre non plus mais celui de tout ce qui nous entoure. Comme on y est bien…


This is a posthumous release; sadly Danielle Baquet-Long (who recorded solo as Chubby Wolf as well as with the husband/wife duo Celer) passed away in the summer of 2009. By the time I had discovered that piece of information of the Dragon’s Eye website, I had listened to this disc four times – and the last piece of the puzzle snapped into place. This album, moreso than almost any record I’ve ever heard, tries to purposefully recede from every plane of existence. There are tons of records that are quiet, spacious, ephemerail, ambient, environmental – we could keep going and that’s even before we get a thesaurus involved. But this particular record has a feel to it that, to my ears, is unique: I am not sure how to say it but it almost seems to me like what Baquet-Long managed to do was to make a record that amplified every other sound that was in range, except her own – something is going on here more than just ‘this is a quiet record’ – though this is a pretty quiet record. This is not haunting, though; even with the added information of loss of life, which is always tragic and too soon regardless of a person’s age, there is nothing about this record that evokes or underscores loss. They say it is hard to write about music, and of course that is true. The strange thing for me is that part of me feels like I could write for a long, long while about this disc… but if you asked me to be succinct: this is the sound of an art studio that contains only blank canvases.


‘Noctilucent Clouds’ was created between 2007-2009 as an intended follow-up to ‘Nacreous Clouds’,
which was released on the and/OAR label. While ‘Nacreous Clouds’ consisted of very short tracks
of loops, ‘Noctilucent Clouds’ is structured differently, according to the differing shape and movements of the clouds. As polar mesospheric clouds, they are the highest in the earths’ atmosphere, and typically too faint to be seen. However, when visible, they appear at twilight, moving in giant sheets of faintly changing lights.
In creating the music for this concept, only a small group of loops were used, within varying ranges of
high and low tones, extremely long reverb, and structured delay trails. Unwanted noise was completely filtered out through a mixing board, leaving only slowly moving, randomly-appearing swathes of high lights, and deep blacks.
Previously unreleased.