September 7, 2009

Celer - Engaged Touches (2009, Home Normal)

Celer was the ambient project of Will Long and Danielle Baquet-Long, prolifically releasing nearly 40 CDs between '04 and '09. Tragically, Danielle passed away suddenly this summer at age 26. Together as Celer, and with Danielle's solo Chubby Wolf project, they generated a buzz online with their masterful dronescapes and processed field recordings, featuring beautiful, often hand-made covers/packaging and poetic titles and liner notes. The majority of Celer's output was self-released on CDr, but in '08 they began releasing CDs through labels and gaining more widespread attention. I first encountered good reviews surrounding "Nacreous Clouds", released on and/OAR in '08 and featuring a verbose and surreal press release and slightly-improbable description of their creative process. Whatever the truth of their sonic sources, the Celer material I have heard is a heady blend of electro-acoustic, organic and synthesized ambient textures, at times melodic and blissful, and occasionally dissonant and unsettling. This weekend, I happened to search Celer on iTunes, and found one of their most recent releases, "Engaged Touches", on sale for only $3.99 (I also found a really nice Windy & Carl compilation track called "Warm Like December" for $.99, tip!). Released on limited CD in April of '09 on the Home Normal label, "Engaged Touches" consists of two long tracks totaling 67 minutes, with each track divided into evocatively-titled movements. "Part 1" begins with a reverb-drenched field recording that sounds like a train station environment, and then transitions to a gorgeous classical-sounding movement, with instrumentation that almost sounds like orchestral strings, but belies its synthesized nature with noisy, artificial-sounding decays. The train station sounds return periodically, puntuacting the movements and transitioning to each subsequent tonal texture. In the second part, the instrumentation starts with a sound similar to accordions, but gradually becomes increasingly other-worldly and singing bowl-like. The classical tones and vintage radio-esque sounds that occasionally swell within the mix give "Engaged Touches" a distinctive and pleasant vibe, with a soft-spoken, mysterious and melancholy tone developing over the course of "Part 2", until a rich crescendo of orchestral chords propels the listener to a blissful finale. This album impressed me, and has more to offer than the "average" drone record! Celer's most recent CD "Brittle" has just been released at the end of August, so check that out as well! (BONUS LINK: Devin Sarno & Celer, live '07 "Symphony 19")