Library Tapes – Sketches (Home Normal) / Celer – Engaged Touches (Home Normal)


engaged touches

This label evokes the consistency brought on by a sense of home through the contradictions that accumulate in the hearth of its first two full-lengths. Sketches conveys intimacy on account of its being cold to the touch, on account of the fact that, although it is embraced by a cool atmosphere, the subdued piano passages of David Wenngren’s keep vigil over the outside.

The album is thus well-rooted, a space for integration and contemplation. Most pieces display a meditative engagement with sound, where they know a certain security, but where they also seem ahead of themselves, which both adds to their sense of nostalgia but also renders them vulnerable and unstable. It’s here that they’re also sensitive to the brush of the wind, be it in the form of Danny Norbury’s cello caress or faceless sonic touches (static, distant groaning of machinery, etc), both of which, however paradoxically, lend a russet warmth to Wenngren’s cold piano vignettes, like a wind through hollow hills. The album lasts only some twenty-odd minutes, but it is a fine foray into temporal dissolution.

So too is Engaged Touches, though in a vastly different way. Where Sketches was settled and somewhat sedate, finding enjoyment in a certain isolation, Engaged Touches is tentative and exploratory, secure and adventurous, and lives through its combinations of memory and imagination. Danielle’s field recordings of places far and away crop up intermittingly and seem the core of the work. The atmosphere that seems to charge them positively comes from an array of instruments that are meticulously treated. Although a common path for the group, it leads somewhere a little different on this occasion, as the duo manage a pleasurable tension that arises from an elasticity between the ancient and modern. The rich, swelling strings have a tincture of classic ambient about them, which often disappears into a sonorous burr or rippling, droning undercurrents.

With the second section, this order gets reversed, the volume giving way to a restraint of amplification, to a slow seep of dark that grows lighter as the disc comes to a close. Together these sections form two bodies that shelter and exchange intimacies through separation and create through recollection.

Max Schaefer


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