Celer – Sky Limits (Two Acorns, 2014)


Fear of change, fear of altering the familiar and the habitual, it’s something we all dread; how many little details and moments do we look back on from our past that we wish we could experience again? Sometimes we’re afraid in the moment, knowing that at some point it’s going to end and become nothing more than a memory and we try to savour it as best we can, other times we don’t realise what we’re missing before it’s too late; those peaceful and frosty walks to school on clear days, the bustling of the corridors, the quick-stepping to lectures and the sweaty climb to the top of the quiet and sleepy department. It’s at times like these in the face of an imminent and lonely Winter that we mull upon these once frequent and retrospectively integral moments from our past.

The album is a seamless single act of 11 pieces, seguing perfectly from the meatier and more substantial long-form drone pieces to tiny, intimate interludes comprised of homely and familiar field recordings before moving back into the introspective palaces again. The bigger pieces are the kind we’ve come to expect from Celer at this point; delicious, perfectly crafted organic drone lines that emerge carefully and progress minimally in their heartfelt movements, focusing down on specific themes through the course of the record. Opener “Circle Routes” wakes the album up for us, lapping gentle waves of tidal, circular drones in fragile and thin currents against our sleepy minds, slowly gaining traction and becoming minutely denser across its warm span.

This briefly homely vibe is ensconced with “Making Tea Over A Rocket Launch”: relatively self-explanatory but perhaps quieter and more restrained than you’d expect. This intimate at-home pleasantry continues through the warm and loving sustained synth of “In Plum and Magenta”, rising out of the TV’s background noise in a resplendent and cosy rush of sound, savouring these quiet and brief moments as we sip tea and watch humanity explore the stars. But the melancholia arrives through the mid-album with “On The Shinkansen Leaving Kyoto” and it’s bigger partner “Tangent Lines”, never to completely depart us. Things begin to become insubstantial and metaphysical in the shimmery and daydreaming tracts of “Tangent Lines”, not living in the present but wishing to be somewhere familiar and calm even when that is our path.

Even more desirous is the lengthy “Equal To Moments of Completion”, carving out the densest and meatiest and most substantial drone lines of the record, repeating endlessly its elongate and yearning sequences over and over again, slowly descending into a dreamy and complete nothingness, wanting nothing more than to preserve the sleepy and warm rustlings of “A Morning”, of which it is “Wishes To Prolong”‘s agenda. It’s the most melancholic and minimal piece, a sad and delicate affair that knows all to well that this moment is nothing more than a fleeting one quickly lost and forever sought after, and its slow motions do more to solidify the moment in memory than they do to enhance its emotional effect when it’s most necessary.

This outward desire to keep these memorable instants is concluded in the appropriately titled closer “Attempts To Make Time Pass Differently”, also the longest track of the album. Its sound is reminiscent of the same desirous drones of “Equal To” but there’s something wholly more ponderous and weirdly lush and minutely detailed about this that its predecessor does not possess, something harmonious and actively fluxing in its presentation but also ultimately doomed to failure, which it recognises as it fades sadly to a premature darkness, leaving us alone in a morose void for the final minute of the record, left to our own devices to ponder what we could have done differently, if anything.

Sky Limits hits dangerously close to home and is probably one of Celer’s best works to date; not just because there’s a sense of relatability with the music, although it helps, but because it’s one of the most rigorously structured records he’s produced in quite some time, yet still somehow feels organic and natural in its progression and evolution, taking us through the motions of nostalgia and the fear or rather the deep desire to not have to age and move on from that which is familiar and comforting in the present. It’s a fragile and haunting record that both seems to last a lifetime and yet take no time at all; very strong effort from one of the best musicians in his field.