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Celestial Dirge - Cerulean Arcanes
Ambient black metal/Drone

Cdr / EP / DV008
2 tracks. 26 minutes.
Handmade release.
Includes inserts printed on 210g grain paper.
Limited edition of 58 handnumbered copies only. NO REPRESS.
Black edition strictly limited to 15 copies. SOLD OUT
RELEASE DATE 07.02.15

Celestial Dirge has emerged from the depths of North America to take you into an astral journey through the arcanes of life, death, time and space. An entity born to generate a definite bliss, a meditation within the disintegration.
With Cerulean Arcanes, their debut ep, Celestial Dirge delivers ambient black metal melted with drone, electronics and dark ambient to create a ceremonial blast against the human condition.
Atmospheric soundscapes leading to transcendance to evoke, purchase and reach the most obscure secrets.

1. -33
2. HVR

REGULAR EDITION

Shipping to

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BLACK EDITION (strictly limited to 15 copies) - SOLD OUT
Includes :
- inserts in black, printed on 210g white paper
- a printed image glued on the cardboard sleeve
- a handnumbered card
- silver cd







Celestial Dirge est la nouvelle et obscure signature du jeune label français Distant Voices. Et fidèle à lui-même, celui-ci nous présente une production qui a été réalisé dans un esprit underground, de manière artisanale, comme c'est d'ailleurs expliqué dans l'interview du label figurant dans ces pages. Et comme bien souvent, il s'agit également d'une édition très limitée, puisqu'il n'y aura que 58 copies, numérotées à la main, qui vont être éditées. Il ne faudra donc pas trop tarder, si vous souhaitez vous en procurer une.
Concernant la formation à proprement parler, très peu d'informations ont filtré sur ce groupe. Aussi, je vais juste pouvoir vous dire qu'il s'agit d'un duo en provenance des Etats-Unis, et qu'il est composé de B, aux claviers et à la programmation, ainsi que de S, aux guitares et à la basse.
Mais venons-en à la musique. Et donc, Cerulean Arcanes est une oeuvre comportant 2 titres, relativement longs, puisque le premier : -33, dépasse les 17 minutes, tandis qu'HVR, lui, avoisine les 10 minutes. On évolue ici à travers un black metal ambiant et purement instrumental, étant donné qu'il n'y aura pas de chant ! Maintenant, si l'on décide de franchir le pas, en pénétrant dans l'oeuvre de Celestial Dirge, on accepte alors de se projeter dans un univers des plus froids, dans des lieux oubliés et inexplorés où règne l'obscurité et le néant ! C'est comme si un brouillard humide s'immiscait en nous. On se referme sur soi-même, vivant ainsi une expérience introspective. Assis sur une pierre froide, caressé par le vent, on contemple ce monde qui se renverse, ce ciel noir qui inonde nos yeux, voyageant ainsi dans le passé, le présent et jusque dans le futur, à travers des sentiments de mort.
De manière générale, les ambiances parviendront à nous hypnotiser, tout comme les guitares qui se veulent lancinantes. L'ensemble étant soutenu par une boîte à rythmes qui sera programmée de façon très rapide, ainsi que par une production correcte. Une fois de plus Distant Voices nous propose un groupe correspondant parfaitement à l'esprit du label. Alors, certes, Celestial Dirge n'est pas à mettre entre toutes les oreilles, mais c'est un E.P. qui pour le style se laisse bien écouter, en se situant largement au dessus de la moyenne, et qui ne devrait pas avoir de mal à satisfaire les amateurs du genre. On va donc attendre la sortie de l'album qui ne devrait pllus trop tarder, afin que ces musiciens puissent nous confirmer leur potentiel.

(M. / L'Antre des Damnés. July 2015. FR.)

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CELESTIAL DIRGE. Finalement, tout est dans l'ambivalence de ce nom charriant des images à priori opposées, contraditoires, faites de beauté, de spiritualité d'un côté, de noirceur funèbre, de contemplations mortifères de l'autre. Entre ombre et lumière, entre clair et obscur, entre puissance élégiaque et pesanteur mécanique, telle est l'identité tant sonore que thématique, tout du long écartelée, cuisses béantes qui mettent à nue une intimité dont les méandres ténébreuses sont comme une porte ouverte vers un inconnu paré de mystérieuses promesses. Cerulean Arcanes est son premier râle de mort, souffle terrifiant comme expulsé des entrailles de la terre.
C'est un EP qui s'arc-boute autour de deux longues pièces instrumentales, lequelles remplissent pas loin d'une demi-heure de sonorités et hypnotiques et oppressantes à la fois. Sa forme le permettant, plongeons-nous dans les sombres arcanes de cet opus. Long de près de 18 minutes, '33' est une pulsation aux dimensions monumentales et aux telluriques ramifications. Elle n'est d'abord qu'un son désincarné qui s'élève peu à peu. Puis son pouls commence à se faire entendre, perçant la surface.
Mais il faut attendre la moitié de son parcours pour que le titre démarre réellement, s'embale enfin, emporté alors par une batterie programmée cependant que des rushs de guitare permettent de larguer les amarres. D'un coup, nous voilà propulsés dans un trou noir au bout duquel pourtant brille pourtant une pale lumière, celle qu'irradient des sphères célestes aux allures de Graal spirituel.
Un (peu) plus court, 'HVR' se veut plus contemplatif dans son expression tout d'abord presque immobile, étendant à l'infini un tapi aux motifs aussi répétifs qu'obsédants qui confinent à une forme de transe abyssale. Une sorte de langueur glaciale en fige la progression, où les tentatives de mouvement sont vite avortées au profit d'une exploration en apnée dans les profondeurs d'une obscurité sans fin... Vide de sens pour certains, "Cerulean Arcanes" est pourtant l'acte de naissance d'un projet qui devrait être passionnant à suivre.

8/10

(Childeric Thor / La Horde Noire. May 2015. FR.)

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I have always appreciated two aspects of French label Distant Voices; the projects signed to their roster, and the physical aspect of each single release. When it comes to the first, the projects, well, I’d like to refer to the reviews I wrote for Arbre, Misery, Brouillard or Scars From A Dead Room. Without exception, all of them do please undersigned’s ear drums and mental state. As a matter of fact, this label was formed two and a half years ago to release Black Metal and Ambient (or better: bands or projects that sort of create a combination of both related genres – indeed, aural happiness for the unhappy ones), and the projects signed on their roster do know how to perform this kind of Sonic Art with conviction, craftsmanship, adoration, pride and professionalism.
The second aspect I was referring to, the ‘physical’ thing, as to do with something that characterises this French label, founded by Thomas Bel, and assisted by Marie and Anna M. More specific, it means that each single thing gets released in a highly limited edition, yet totally handmade with the best materials available.
Of course it isn’t different when talking about Distant Voices’ eighth release, the debut EP / CD-r of North-American duo Celestial Dirge. Once again, the whole package is unique, within black packaging and including two inserts, printed on 210-gram ‘grain’ paper. Evidently, this stuff is extremely limited, i.e. in an edition of 58 copies only (and since I have mine, there’s one less left for you…). 15 copies are slightly different, i.e. hand-numbered too (so is the other edition), with a silver CD and somewhat different artwork / lay-out. It has been done, by the way, by Anna M. this time.
And now the ‘sonic’ side of this release. As mentioned before, I have never been disappointed by any material on Distant Voices when it comes to the quality of song writing and performance. The sound quality, however, was beneath acceptance, sometimes, and that was a pity. In this album’s case, the recording was done in November 2013 with some additional and re)recordings in November 2014, and the result was mixed and mastered in very early 2015. And actually, the production is quite all right. I won’t say that this album comes with the most professional mix I’ve heard in years – because that wouldn’t be true (and my mother always told me not to tell lies, you see…). But actually, Cerulean Arcanes sounds low-profile but still forceful and complete.
The Ep consists of two long pieces that perfectly fit to Distant Voices’ roster. The first composition, called -33, has a total running time of seventeen minutes and opens with quite a sober introduction, being a one-tone monotonous sound that slowly gets louder. Only after a couple of minutes, there seems to appear some ‘melody’, finally accompanied by a distant drum beat, far away. But after about four minutes, things start getting seriously interesting. Softly floating Ambient synth lines and almost absent drum beat patterns create an atmosphere so chilly and hypnotic, and this goes on for a couple of minutes. And then, after almost seven minutes, a first glimpse of horror shows up. Nihilistic guitars and artillery drum patterns (clearly done by a drum computer instead of organic drumming – but maybe you do not care) appear, joining forces with the creepy keyboard melodies, then joined by a mesmerizing guitar lead (mind the sound quality), and building up to some post-apocalyptic spiritual soundtrack. Step by step, -33 evolves and grows, reaching bigger, fatter proportions of Aural Obscurity. Despite its long-stretched and nihilistic-minimal attitude, this piece catches the listener by accompanying him (or her) throughout unexplored dimensions far beyond earthly safety. It builds up, minute after minute, in order to explode in a grandiose finale of, well, what this song did introduce whole the time.
The second track, called HVR, clocks just over nine minutes. This one too is an instrumental piece with quite the same ingredients. But the main difference is that this track does not start that minimalistic. The drum computer beats are more pronounced, and the focus lies on synth lines rather than blackened guitar riffing. HVR is more ‘rich’ in sound for sure. The first part and the second half are slightly different, as if it are two different pieces brought together (yet still organically related), with the second one especially being less static or droning.
What I do appreciate, but it rather goes for the label than the musical project, is the eyes wide open vision. Celestial Dirge shamelessly fit to Distant Voices’ curriculum vitae, but they are different from all other entities too. But why not? Satanath, Weltfeind, Aesthetic Death and several other labels have done quite a comparable thing by releasing material that did differ and, at the same time, perfectly followed the spirit, the core business of the label. With this instrumental release, Distant Voices do very much the same. I would warn you that this release is a ‘you like it or you do not’ recording, but I am, once again, impressed!

81/100

(Ivan Tibos / Concreteweb. March 2015. BE.)

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Short-lived fascination
Limited to a paltry sum of 73 copies (15 of which being a scarcer-still 'Black Edition'), it is unsurprising that finding info on Celestial Dirge and their debut EP Cerulean Arcanes proves elusive. Even touching upon the laconic press release and online page of their label Distant Voices, information is tight; the two bandmembers are credited only by their first (or last?) initials- the only hint we are given of Celestial Dirge's physical presence is that they "emerged from the depths of North America", which could be interpreted to varying degrees of probability that they're anywhere from Alaska to Acapulco.
Then again, do details and context really matter with music like this? Ambient black metal is a fusion of two of the most subjective forms of musical art around; the pretence of expressed ideology would only serve to limit the visceral experience of the work. I hesitate to speculate as to the intent or meaning of the 26 minute EP. The composition is minimal to the point of being almost entirely static. Traditional riff-shapes have been eschewed for effects-heavy textures and abstract sonic patterns, endlessly stretched and repeated to the point where every weirdly droning nook of their sound feels familiar by the end of the first listen.
Celestial Dirge are meditative and singular in their approach.  Frigidly programmed drums and a weighted emphasis on digital guitar effects give the proceedings and incredibly cold atmosphere, and without so much as the familiar reprieve that a vocal presence often offers the more far-out black metal, Cerulean Arcanes has a completely inhuman, unfeeling character about it.
The looping drone and static atmosphere feel kind of shocking at first; for good or bad, there's little black metal I can think of that detaches itself from the human experience as much as this- Blut Aus Nord may come to mind, but their compositions and infrequent use of consonance always gave them a welcome hint of familiarity. From an initial viewpoint, the pair of textures Celestial Dirge build with each of the tracks on Cerulean Arcanes are frighteningly weird, but the utterly static compositions serve to rob most of that novel magic before the EP is even through. The best meditative music out there should serve to pull the listener deeper into it, the longer they experience it. With Cerulean Arcanes, I am first shocked by the inhuman atmosphere, then later pleasantly impressed by the time the dust settles. By the end of the album however, the dominant feeling is one of irritation. Celestial Dirge are onto a couple of great ideas here, but they fail to keep them engaging throughout.

5/10


(Conor Fynes / Heathen Harvest. February 2015. USA.)










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