Archive for March, 2012

Материал «Levitation And Breaking Points», посвященный всему неназванному и непознанному, впервые был издан в 2009 году в виде приватного релиза силами самих музыкантов «Celer», и представлял собой три мини CD-r`a (по одному треку на каждом), упакованных в специальный конверт с ручным оформлением. Лейбл «and/OAR» спустя несколько лет упростил эту идею и сделал ее более доступной, издав все треки на одном диске приличным по нынешним временам тиражом. Слушая эту музыку, понимаешь, что так даже логичнее и правильнее – не нужно выплывать из этого странного дурманящего тепла, из кокона монотонных, тихих звуков, приятно резонирующих где-то внутри тела, не нужно пробуждаться каждый раз, когда нужно поменять диски в проигрывателе.

Закономерно, что в этих трех продолжительных вещах заключено все то, что было характерно для творчества американского дуэта конца нулевых. Нет, не заключено, наоборот, выпущено на волю. Свободно парящие вокруг звуки, долгие, вытянутые, доведенные до того выхолощенного состояния, которое уже не позволяет опознать, чем же они были первоначально – несколькими нотами, сыгранными на скрипке или отзвуком пары нажатых клавиш органа, образуют бесконечные, то затухающие в полной тишине, то вновь вспыхивающие тусклыми огнями звуковые потоки. Их звучание, а, точнее, тот эффект, который замечаешь через пару минут, когда эта музыка проникает в мозг, разгоняя все мысли и начинает аккуратно перестраивать заряды миллиардов нейронов, заставляет вспомнить о том, что участники «Celer» когда-то активно интересовались звуковой терапией, возможностью исцеления с помощью подобных, заточенных под данный результат, композиций. Для достижения наилучшего результата вам нужно обеспечить полную тишину и покой, дождаться сумерек и следить за тем, как по стенам медленно сползают в тень последние солнечные лучи, следуя за неспешным и аккуратным движением образующих «Levitation And Breaking Points» звуков. Время и физические процессы замедляются, границы реальности немного сдвигаются в сторону сна и кажется, что в этом состоянии возможно все: левитация, преодоление преград, познание непознанного и многое другое.

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Breathtaking is the thought that enters the mind when this beautiful EP fades out after nine heavenly minutes, leaving a prominent silence. Beautifully open and warm ambience surrounds Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake. Nine minutes might seem but a photographic flash, but there’s more substance and ambient activity in its span that many struggle to attain over a longer period. Celer (Will Long), and Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) celebrate their Spring European tour with the birth of this debut release, and it acts as a perfect taste for what they are capable of creating; the music is effortlessly warm and fluid, awash in ambience. For this record, audio was taken from multiple sources and sent across Tokyo and Rotterdam over Ethernet airspace. Rotterdam’s industrial setting of the opener, and the peaceful Japanese mountains of the closer, beautifully contrast one another; they revel in the appreciable differences of East and West while mirroring both artists’ worlds. On opener “Maastunnel,” fluid ripples of water act as traffic, trickling into the ears on serene, yet active, waves. Coupled with a feathery drone, it puts the ghostly, transitory nature of human construction into focus, the only audible presence being a high pitched squeak recorded from the tunnel’s wooden escalators. Acting as the rush hour, the aquatic feel is reminiscent of William Basinski’s Vivian & Ondine, and the transparent, oceanic tranquility of Dolphins Into The Future. “Mt. Mitake” closes by diving into the inspiring vistas of the Japanese peaks, through a rainstorm of slowly released static, representing the mountainous cycle of life. Eventually, lower drones enter and cast an ominous mood, showing they are just as capable of turning the atmosphere a shade darker if they so wish. Deeply inviting, the music feels reassuring and exploratory, similar to the meditative mantra of Ambient Temple of Imagination. We’re left with something to cherish, and a realization that beauty is often found in fleeting moments; impressive lengths aren’t required to leave emotional imprints. In our world, music such as this is a refreshing pause for breath when one is all too frequently needed.

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Instead of posting this review, I’ve decided to instead post my favorite quotes from it, which I find far more interesting. Please enjoy!

“Perhaps I am misinformed or (dazed &) confused”

“I think its funny”

“a bit too digital”

“I am not sure”

“Throughout a fine piece, one that won’t disappoint”

Un disque, un poème. Il n’en faut parfois pas davantage pour semer le trouble et captiver bien au-delà de la simple musique. Ainsi Evaporate & Wonder, nouvel album du couple immortel formé par Danielle Marie Baquet et William Thomas Long, interpelle-t-il mille fois plus que la cohorte de nouveautés labellisées ambient. Déjà le titre du disque, belle manière d’envisager le corps, l’esprit et sa petite musique. Ensuite le son, d’une beauté folle, aux confins de l’immobilisme et de la disparition. En témoignent ces deux magnifiques pièces drapées de calme, de souffle et d’éternel. De fait, on y reviendra souvent, comme s’il s’agissait d’une source de vie. Certes, il y a toujours eu chez Celer quelque chose que les autres n’avaient pas – une sensibilité, une force et une poésie qui tranchent avec l’ordinaire glacé de ce type d’entreprise. Depuis la tragique disparition de Danielle Marie Baquet, Celer est cependant plus encore qu’un projet singulier et passionnant. A l’image du travail de Richard Skelton, il s’agit désormais de vivre avec et sans, d’entretenir le souvenir de l’être cher et de prolonger la vie comme on peut – avec des mots, de la musique et beaucoup d’émotion retenue qui rappellent ici plus qu’ailleurs toute la grandeur de l’existence.

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Tucked away in a corner of a residential area in The Hague is Studio Loos, a workspace, laboratory, and public presentation space for electroacoustic music, sound art, and audio art. Their monthly Ephémère series, curated by sound artist Marie Guilleray, features performances from a wide range of artists from across Europe and beyond, and has quickly earned a reputation as one of the best places to go to hear new music and sound art in The Netherlands. This month’s event also happened to be the first leg of a tour bringing together Celer and Machinefabriek with Kleefstra|Bakker|Kleefstra, with additional performances by Otso Lahdeoja and the trio Govaert/de Joode/Stadhouders.

First up were Kleefstra|Bakker|Kleefstra, whose new album “Griis” received a big Fluid thumbs-up recently. The guitars of Anne-Chris Bakker and Romke Kleefstra supplied a rolling, lonely sea on which Jan Kleefstra’s poetry could drift. Improvising off material from “Griis”, the trio spent the whole half-hour set teetering on the brink, the hum and throb of guitars never quite splintering into a Heckeresque wall of noise, the rising and falling of speech never quite breaking into song. Someone once defined meekness as ‘strength under perfect control’, and this is what Kleefstra|Bakker|Kleefstra’s performance had in spades. I could have listened to this beautiful tension for a lot longer.

Next up was guitarist, composer and music researcher Otso Lahdeoja with a piece he composed for augmented guitar. Lahdeoja managed to produce an impressive range of sounds from this instrument, yet the music itself seemed somewhat disorganised and lacking in structure. By contrast, I was riveted by the way Govaert, de Joode and Stadhouders’s take on intense, fast-paced improvised free jazz would coalesce into a sudden moment of fragile coherence and agreement, before melting once more into a frenzy. The level of concentration required to produce and maintain this rapidly shifting kaleidoscope of musicality seemed immense, as was the concentration required to listen to it. I’m not familiar enough with the genre to judge how well this acoustic trio of drums, bass and guitar compare with their peers, but I enjoyed trying to hack my own convoluted path through their musical undergrowth.

An added bonus of the evening’s debut live collaboration between Celer and Machinefabriek was the presence of Marco Douma, the video artist responsible for the two videos that accompany the duo’s recent 7-inch “Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake”. Douma’s work is often concerned with the moment in which an image at the outer limit of legibility passes over into abstractness. His slowly dissolving and reforming organic scenes kept me in a constant state of uncertainty regarding the nature of what I was seeing, and provided a perfect visual counterpart to the meeting of Celer’s distant warm glows with Machinefabriek’s clicks, crackles, and tones.

Tearing my eyes away from the video projection provided another image of the two musicians’ complementarity: Celer poised in stillness over his laptop, Machinefabriek hopping birdlike from fader to fader. Ephemerality and timelessness meets specificity, immediacy, and the substance of the actually there: what Walter Benjamin referred to as a dialectical image, and the rest of us call a photograph. A wonderful performance to round off a diverse and intriguing evening – The Hague is lucky to have such a platform for discovering exciting and adventurous new music.

Four seconds of static start ‘Evaporate and Wonder’, another release from the secretive ambient project Celer, comprised of the late Danielle Marie-Baquet and William Thomas Long, before the slow-motion descent begins. Recorded in California in 2009, and released on March 13th, ‘Evaporate and Wonder’ is comprised of two sidelong compositions, and whilst these can be immediately distinguished from their more obviously sparse and glacial predecessors, the overall effect still gels with the pair’s labyrinthian back catalogue, which is identified as being amongst the most well loved and respected within the genre.

Although upon hearing that the source material was limited to improvised synthesisors and field recordings one may initially begin to imagine Celer’s soundscapes to be decidedly ‘split’ down some half-way mark, both elements are in fact merged seamlessly, making listening to any individual record decidedly similar to slowly being pulled around by tides deep under the surface of the ocean. Whilst the heartbreaking backdrop to Celer’s releases post-July of 2009 does of course add a certain melancholy to their output, this isn’t to say it is in any way reliant upon this to impact upon the listener – this rather makes the recordings stronger in their emotive foundation. Long’s title to this particular section of their work, redemptive as it reads, seems to encapsulate both the artistic and emotional bond of two people more clearly than many other releases of a similar ilk.

Opening track ‘Bedded in Shallow Blades’ immediately brings to mind the Celer of yesteryear, such as static-laden ‘Emotion’, yet still shows a definite development in sound that was so tragically cut off before reaching its apex, and is only being heard now, several years on. Deep sub-bass throbs glide to and from the listener through foggy notes, played at such a volume that they solidify, yet far away enough to remain as faint echoes of what they were, and walls of malleable tones. Indeed the sounds on ‘Evaporate and Wonder’ are, somewhat counter to what the former half of the title suggests, denser than ever before, yet still not claustrophobic in any way. Celer’s compositions still manage to retain a certain distance, as if coming from everywhere at once, and so don’t overwhelm the listener as other groups’ works so often can.

Continuing on in respect to the quite obviously dual nature of the record, B-side ‘Repertoire of Dinless Shifts’, again far from what the title suggests, lifts the listener from the bottom of the ocean that ‘Bedded in Shallow Blades’ finally planted us on, but with one only realising as such as you begin to drift away. With the titles of the material being the only input that Long has had since the initial recording sessions were done, Celer releases are beginning to look, if not brighter, more accepting of the decidedly ill-hand the group, and Long, was dealt, with this release especially being a far cry from 2008’s ‘I Love You So Much I Can’t Even Title This (The Light That Never Goes Out Went Out)’.

Saying much more about ‘Evaporate and Wonder’, although infinitely possible, become irrelevant. This is because simply labeling Celer’s releases as anything from ‘Drone’ to ‘Minimalist Electronica’ to simply ‘Electronic atmospheres’, as well as trying to aptly describe them, cannot do them justice. The simultaneously ethereal yet deeply emotive creations of the late Danielle Marie-Baquet and William Thomas Long are ones that simply must be listened to, time and time again.

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‘Recumbent in Wishes’ was created in 2010 while at my home, using only an organ and a laptop. Since it was completed in a relatively short time, I’ve been reluctant to release it, or even send it to anyone simply because of its utter melancholy, and conditional circumstances at the time. It was created at a time of near isolation except for my immediate family, all centered around the slow loss of my father from cancer. We all know that there is an end to life, and that sometimes it comes unexpectedly. Though, we always imagine it in the most heroic senses, thinking that we’ll fight through as hard as possible to the bitter end. However, sometimes when that time comes, no matter how strong was the will and heart of the person, something can be lost, and never found again. It’s a sad reality, but nonetheless a true moment of dying.

While I don’t deny that this is an absolutely melancholy album, I do think that even through these moments, that flashes of lightness and comfort erupt, if only in the understanding, and acceptance of memory, love, and time. Even in the worst moments, beauty and enlightenment can be found.

‘Recumbent in Wishes’ is a digital-only release.

Thank you for your support,

Will Long, Tokyo, 2012

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If you are in any way familiar with ambient music, Celer  will probably be familiar too. The discography boasts about 80 titles, most (if not all) of these well worth the listen.

Celer started out as a husband-and-wife duo in 2005. After the tragic death of Danielle Baquet-Long in 2009 (she died of heart failure at the age of 27), Will Long has released music they had previously recorded together, as well as music he recorded later.

“Evaporate and Wonder” was originally recorded in may, 2009, only a few months before Danielle’s death. The source material was limited to improvised synthesizer and field recordings, but two tracks (about 20 minutes each) have all the warm aesthetic qualities that have become the Celertrademark from the very beginning. A sound well-balanced and harmonically pleasant – ‘utterly devoid of rough edges’.

The basic material for “Tightrope”  was recorded in November 2010 in Tokyo while Will was touring with Yui Onodera.  The main difference compared to “Evaporate and Wonder” is that a lot of different instruments were involved in this recording: “piano, television, synthesizers, fire crackling, pipe organ, eating rice, guitar, medicine drip buzzer,…’ which are just a few. All source pieces are layered and mixed on top of each other, and presented in a 70 minute continuous collage.

The variety of source makes this a somewhat more cinematographic album compared to “Evaporate..”, but it still has the same unmistakeable trademark, the same comfortable, timeless, immersive sound.

With an output rate like this, I do wonder if there’s anyone around that can name a Celer album title when hearing a particular piece from it. It’s hard to keep track; new album titles will probably be released before I finish writing this post. But, as said before, the really incredible thing is that all titles are worth listening, to say the least. A thing that cannot be said of many artists!
Together, they are presenting the kind of continuous ambient atmosphere that somehow compares to the sound of nature: it’s basically the same sort of sound every time, yet it never gets boring.

“In the end, they’re all collected, unplanned memories”

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