I Saw The Sun is the name of a new project from Maren Celest. More than an audio album there is a book. In the book there are color photographs, hand-inked poems, and lyrics. In the book there is a red vinyl disc of the music. The book is hardbound in gold foil. It’s an artifact of significant beauty. The art contained within is what we’re going to talk about.
I Saw The Sun is a body of work that uses motifs of light, shade, heat, and cold to explore the process of pain, healing, redemption, freedom. All of the truths, metaphysics, and music of the work express a kind of urgency – teetering on the precarious edge of something about to collapse.
Maren Celest is an artist of prolific activity – aside from her previous work with the band, Photographers, she also works with Manual Cinema – a collective who combine cinematic techniques, soundscapes and handmade shadow puppetry to create immersive stories across stage and screen.
Her work producing sound and images around shadow puppets is a useful metaphor in unlocking the work of I Saw The Sun, her first proper solo endeavor. All subjects here occupy more than one space. By blocking light we see the shape of things, by illuminating things Maren Celest plays with darkness, and dissolve.
“There are no shadows, there are no shadows, there are no shadows, in the place where I remember you” – this line from the track ‘Cast’ underpins the hyper-realism / magic-realism that Celest plays with. All elements work around her central premise. ‘Cast’ is both pun and explicit direction of light, shade, what is thrown out, what is called back from memory, and all the people involved.
Musically, Maren Celest plays with a gothic folk tone. Any light here is portrayed as coming through the cracks. It’s rare to hear a major driven melody. Finger-picked guitars, harps, and stringed instruments set the tonal quality. Tracks often start from a place of certainty, even if that certainty is a line of enquiry – we know what is being asked. However, more often than not, things spiral away. They dissolve in light, in mist, in darkness, under questioning, or in the passing of time. Celest holds handfuls of sand, then pours them into the wind. The results define the fleeting nature of all of this. All of this.
Extracting constituent parts of a project like I Saw The Sun is a fools game. We’ve not even mentioned the video for ‘Nightshade’. The articulation of Celest’s vision is confidently whole. Every element here calls to every element in the book and music. The audacity of this thing is somehow reassuring. There are people still eager to fuck with form, and bold enough to tackle the issues that their projects leads them through.
There’s a very real sensation that Maren Celest is channeling something here. True, she is in control; she is a highly adept writer, performer and editor. However, the natural force – the visceral energy that is contained here, gives the impression of something larger seeking a voice. There’s no feeling that Celest has ever had writers block, or struggled with craft. Instead, she channels the swell to direct what’s occurring in her. It is from those raging tides of emotion and intuition that she makes art.
HURRY – BUY – MAREN CELEST ART & MUSIC