The flood of unreleased Celer material seems to have subsided a bit in recent months, but a steady posthumous trickle of Dani Baquet-Long’s solo recordings has now appeared in its wake. To my ears, the aesthetic difference between Celer’s drifting drone and Chubby Wolf is negligible at best, but Turkey Decoyreaffirms my belief that most of the best Celer-related material is reserved for their vinyl releases (of which this is one). This easily stands among Dani’s finest albums.
Articulating the difference between Baquet-Long’s excellent work and her lesser work has always been an extremely difficult task, as the individual instruments are almost always processed into an amorphous, warm blur of sustained drones in either case. I guess great Celer/Chubby Wolf songs simply sound a bit deeper, darker, and more finished than usual, traits that several of these songs possess Additionally, Turkey Decoy boasts some subtly enhanced variety for a Baquet-Long release.
For example, Dani sometimes allows natural-sounding piano notes or unexpected interludes of dialogue or field recordings to emerge from the haze, but such elements tend to be used only for color, texture, or transition: the heart of these pieces is still invariably glacially swelling sustained drones. Dani was obviously no slouch at composing excellent drone music, but I find any divergence from the Celer template to be especially welcome after so many similar releases. Aside from the novelty factor, however, I genuinely enjoy the “non-musical” components of her work in general, as they provide a welcome contrast to the languid drones and add a little bit of mystery and surreally ambiguous context. Also, sometimes they just sound great, like the barking dog that accompanies the ominous opening thrum of “Intrusively Coexisting.”
Happily, Dani went a bit further than her standard fare on quite a few pieces. The aforementioned “Intrusively Coexisting” is probably my favorite piece on the album due to its unexpected menace, but the opening “Cantankerous Baby” is similarly successful at evoking brooding unease. I was also quite fond of “Sushi On A Hot Day,” which nicely augments its languid reverie with a cricket-like chatter. Even the less adventurous pieces here are quite good though–this is simply a very solid and thoughtfully sequenced batch of songs that drifts along in sublimely dreamlike fashion. In fact, I think I prefer this to several of Celer’s more beloved releases. I did not expect that at all: given how hugely prolific Dani and Will were during Celer’s lifetime, it seems almost astonishing that some of Dani’s best work is just now being released.