Quietly massive majesty: Celer – Dying Star

Late one evening, about two weeks ago, i and the Beloved found ourselves high on a hillside in Cornwall. The wild moorland in this far southwest corner of England is characterised by precisely two things: vast granite slabs that put the ‘rude’ into protrude, and even bigger stone mines and chimneys, their ruins peppering the landscape with almost amusing prevalence. Caught between the twin immensities of nature and industry, it’s a beautiful, evocative place, and as we explored one particular ruin (behold), the day literally began to die around us. Across on the west side of the valley, the sun began to set, becoming a fiery bronze circle in the sky. From the time it first touched the fringes of the hilled horizon to finally being absorbed within it can only have been a few minutes, but the magic of the moment made it impossibly longer, stretching each second in order that our senses might be able to savour their passing.

Upon my return home, Celer‘s latest release, Dying Star, was waiting for me, the listening experience of which takes me straight back to that Cornish hillside. It’s not just the title, or even the overt sunset shown on the cover; this is emphatically evening music, perfectly capturing the sense of things passing, closing, readying themselves for sleep. Appropriately, Will and Dani’s drones are more reserved than usual, kept at a distance by their unwavering calm and dynamic softness (Will recommends listening with the volume at 80%; do it, it works perfectly). This aspect especially—the resolve to keep the material a hovering mezzo-piano throughout—is bold and impressive (i’m reminded of advice given to me many years ago: if you really want to get an audience’s attention, play increasingly quietly; loud music can be—and is—more doggedly ignored); there’s ever the sense that, at any moment, the music might just pass away completely, which makes the minutes we are given—and, generously, Celer give us nearly 50 of them—all the more tantalising and significant (track title “I could almost disperse” says it all). and that is what continues to be most remarkable thing about Celer’s œuvre: the astonishing way that such radically pared-down material is nonetheless so miraculously full of life and energy, so emotional and allusive. The more one listens to their drones, the less they sound like such, seemingly filled to bursting with ebb and flow, gentle eddies and currents worrying the material at some fathomless depth; from this perspective, moments of slight but noticeable change—such as the exquisite opening of the fourth track, “On the Edges of Each Season”, with its insistent growing cluster and deep, only half-perceptible rumbling bass—become almost shockingly novel.

Dying Star simply isn’t just another Celer release; its quietly massive majesty betrays incredibly deft artistry and bespeaks a profound creative maturity. This album may just be Celer’s masterpiece.

Posted on by 5:4 in CD/Digital releases

2 Responses to Quietly massive majesty: Celer – Dying Star

  1. Anonymous

    This kind of reminds me of "Fripp and Eno." Not a bad sound to emulate.

  2. Steven James

    I posted an interview I did a few years ago with Will Long (of Celer) here: http://sjp.id.au/music-2/will-long-of-celer-peripheral-traces-of-beautiful-memory/

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