It's only late April, but already this nuptial duo have six (I believe. But hell, maybe it's 7 or 8 by the time this review is posted) releases inside of 2009. Of these, the most widely released (500 copies) is “Engaged Touches”, an emotional journey through the hearts of Will Long & Danielle Baquet-Long, and apparently also through the train-stations of their lives. The disc is divided up into two parts, but each contains four individual pieces (not indicated by the tracking of the disc itself, which is only divided into the two main parts). Something of note—there are these crisp 'field recordings' of train motion and the human commotion surrounding departure and arrival, aptly laid into the tracks at the end or beginning of several pieces. They are scarce, especially in relation to the length of the entire CD, but they work very well in opening and closing certain pieces, to narrate the journey through the music. So then, let us board the train and begin.
The first part opens on what feels like a bittersweet goodbye in a film—dampened orchestral blossoms, repeating and repeating. Minutes pass and we're still riding the same waves of engagement, but there begins also this whisper (what is it? the ocean? could be a phaser maybe?). There are these slight shudders in the notes that suggest a very slurred delay or that the sounds have been stretched. I can't say for sure exactly what is happening, but I like it all the same. At about 15 minutes into the first part, we enter a new land. Feet shuffle, music plays on. It's a similar environment—that same drifting, echoing kind of place. But the tune has changed to one of diminished hope. Worry not though you romantics, by the end of Part 1, we are back into that same blissful state we opened with—iteration upon iteration of the wistful orchestra's favorite five-second song. But wait, the train is leaving—Part 1 is now closed.
Part 2 begins with what I would say is the time directly before arrival at the station. Tensions are high and with that we have a wall of reverberating piano keys, playing a tune that is not sad, but not gleeful. Where are we going? The train is pulling in again; wipe the sweat from your face and fix your hair. Put your shoes back on. There he is on the platform waiting for you (re-enter the waves of orchestra). You're embraced again and doesn't it remind you of something that's happened prior? Oh yes I believe it was about 20 minutes ago, in Part 1. This melody is no stranger and even though it's a reiteration of something past, I'm by no means disappointed to have its return. Some time passes—more embraces and reminiscence of our fondest times together. And then where do we go? To sleep? Something different happens—we enter a new land of sound. It's even more subdued than before—gentle drones of a less dynamic nature, and what sounds like only the same note repeated over and again, sometimes with an octave's difference. Gradually we enter a soft end to this slumber, and we wake slowly to the new land we've apparently decided to settle in. This last piece is a new day and it's happy. Blasting blossoms of that same old orchestra are back and the embrace is now permanent.
The CD is just short of 67 minutes. Everything here is softened by a gentle, nostalgic reverberation. If it were a film, it would be sepia-toned throughout—albeit a slow motion film taking place inside a stifling train car and only periodically glancing out to the platform. There is no point in trying to analyze the orchestration of composition behind this, because this couple’s sounds are so completely encapsulated inside a world of otherworld-ness. The sounds have no destiny in dissection—only experience. “Engaged Touches” is perhaps a bit long in some places, but it's nonetheless a powerfully emotional journey. And maybe those extended iterations only serve to let us cherish the engagement. 8/10 -- Michael Jantz (1 May, 2009)