Celer & Machinefabriek are having a great year. In addition to their separate releases, they’ve toured, released a download set of the tour, and completed a trilogy of fine vinyl singles, of which Hei/Sou is the final piece. Perhaps the most exciting thing about their collaboration is the extent to which each seems to have been inspired and invigorated by the presence of the other. By pushing each other into new territories, they’ve each upped the ante, as best demonstrated on Celer’s latest release for Somehow Recordings, Redness & Perplexity – a Celer recording that strikes out into bolder and weirder fields. In order for artists to stay relevant, they must continue to evolve, and that’s exactly what we’ve been hearing here.
Take “Hei” for example. The opening portion doesn’t sound like either Celer or Machinefabriek, but the work of some new melodic, beat-driven producer. After setting the pace with hi-hats, the duo introduces a synth warble and a drone – elements of their individual productions that seldom appear together. It’s a bold statement, a confident, in-your-face opening that proclaims, “We’re not what you expect.” Eighty seconds in, the entire song shifts to the ambient spectrum, while preserving hints of the opening in the extended support notes. The louder elements are mixed softly, while the softer elements are mixed loudly, further inverting the listener’s expectations. When the percussion returns, it seems less a declaration than a gentle reminder.
“Sou” rests in more familiar territory, but the melodic impulses remain, making Hei/Sou the most immediate of the three vinyl singles. The piece opens with a sound that rests somewhere between backward masking and morse code, leading to a glistening center of cycling tones. Volume is once again a noticeable tool, as the primary pattern rises and retreats, trading places with the similarly active drone. Few artists toy with internal volume so effectively; “Sou” reminds the listener that knobs can be just as important as notes.
Those who purchase the release will also be given access to two videos by Marco Douma, completing the 2012 triptych. A box set would seem a distinct possibility, but at the very least, we hope these fine artists will continue to work together in the years to come. (Richard Allen)