Will Long (aka Celer) and Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek) work together in a series of 7″ records, the first one ‘Maastunnel / Mt. Mitake’ comes together with two downloadable videos by Marco Douma. Note that the Dutchman Rutger Zuydervelt works as Machinefabriek since 2004 releasing several albums on labels in the likes of Type, 12K, Digital, Staalplaat or the emblematic Mort Aux Vaches. Has collaborated with renowned artists from the experimental electronic field such as Aaron Martin, Peter Broderick, Frans de Waard, Steve Roden and Anla Courtis, among others. Meanwhile Will Thomas Long has continued very active releasing records since 2005 as Celer, a duo that formed with his wife Danielle Baquet-Long, who passed away in 2009. This new seven inches is made out of fragments of a long recording and ‘Numa’, the first track, spread over a soundscape of bright lights, certainly melodic and with a drone background. The accompanying video shows perfectly the abstraction and luminosity of the track. ‘Penarie’ offers a mix of compressed sounds and ambient layers whose images in the video shown as stick and intercrossed figures.
Archive for May, 2012
The 70 continuous minutes of Tightrope is actually 24 separate pieces, but there are no explicit transitions to show for it. In bringing each composition together, Long decided to do more than simply thread them together in chronological sequence; rather, the pieces are interwoven and placed over one another, forming a blur of mixed intentions and tonality, tugging Tightrope this way and that, sparking gorgeous harmony and accidental rubs of dissonance. It’s a ball of warm, ethereal tone that constantly writhes and rotates – sometimes shrinking into little remnants of low frequency hum, sometimes flowering open into thick lashings of texture.
In the same way that Long has collated 24 fragments to form a singular entity, his eclectic selection of sound sources amount to a timbre that feels pure and unified. Sometimes, it feels like Tightrope could quite easily have spawned from one synthesizer – all of its tones moving with the gooey patience of hot melted wax – but placing full concentration on any one element of the audio soon unlocks its intricate, characterising traits; specific balances of frequency, speed of dynamic transition. Regardless, it’s still impressive to think that piano, television, medicine drip buzzer, eating ice, acoustic guitar and the crackle of fire in a fire place (amongst many others) are all present somewhere within the haze.
Tightrope is ultimately a blur. It derives inspiration from Long’s trip to Tokyo with Yui Onodera, and was completed upon his return back to the US. Once the listener acknowledges that the music is founded on Long’s fresh reminiscences, the album’s structure and behaviours starts to make sense somewhat; just as memories arrive as a rush of partial detail and contorted chronology, Tightrope swirls multiple sensations and experiences into an essence of a place and time. There’s a certain vagueness indistinction to the piece that can sometimes cause interest to tail off, as if Long’s recollections are too vague to solidify in anything more than murky blotches of colour or disembodied smells that can’t be placed, but it’s never long before a certain shimmer of hidden static or ghostly whistle lures the listener back in.
The 7″ with Celer is more like one would expect to find from Rutger Zuydervelt, and perhaps Celer as well. Not exactly the kind of music one should put on the limited time frame of a 7″ I would think, as these delicate drone patterns need their time to develop. Now it seems to happen a bit fast, but both ‘Numa’ and ‘Penarie’ are fine examples of what atmospheric and drone music should be like. It comes with a postcard to download not just the music but also two films by Marco Douma with interesting light patterns. In ‘Numa’ very abstract and in ‘Penarie’ outside with electricity cables and bursting sunlight. Dreamy music and dreamy visuals. Excellent stuff. That’s the way we like them.
Time passes quickly, and memories all but disappear. Some of the most intimate moments are shuffled aside, later sometimes discovered again only by accident. Merkin, possibly one of the most personal albums that we ever made, for one reason or another, never came to an official release. It was recorded in 2007-2008 in Las Vegas and California, and later mastered by John Twells. For about a year after it was sent and given to friends and labels. By 2012, nearly 5 years had passed since it’s creation, Danielle had been gone for almost 3 years, and the album had passed through 3 different labels, in the end all dropping it for reasons such as “I like this other album better”, “it won’t fit on an LP”, “it’s too good to be released on a cassette”, and “we prefer an album that sounds like Engaged Touches“. In addition, an unmastered version appeared on many blogs and file sharing sites, which increasingly damaged any chances of it appearing.
So, after 5 years, the official version of Merkin will be available. Someday a CD will be pressed, but for now, it is better that it exists and can be enjoyed as it is. It is an important part of the history of Celer, and sadly one of the most colorful, yet overlooked records. Just because labels don’t want to release something, doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
– Will Long, Tokyo, May 2012
(In 15 Indeterminate Parts)
Immutable Philanthropy / Limpid Sets of Tide / Soporific Sense of Self /
Pubic Wig / Stagnant Swimming Equilibrium / Its Shiny Kith / Saddle
Sore / Natural Translucence / Autistic Premonitions / The Fugue of the
Purple Reef / Dormant Couture of Winter / Dissociative Identity of Each of
its Pages / Frozen Rocking Chairs / The Delicate Omphalos of a Naked
Apron / Antediluvian Shapes of Molded Ribs
Recorded in California and Las Vegas, 2007-2008
Danielle Baquet-Long – Cello, Violin, Piano, Contact Microphones, Latex,
Will Long – Mixing Board, Piano, Processing
Cover Photography by Peter Lograsso, Mastered by John Twells
Tokyo resident Celer and Dutchman Machinefabriek enjoyed making that lovely ‘Maastunnel’ 7″ so much that they decided to continue working together on a series of 7″ platters. ‘Numa / Penarie’ is their 2nd pair of works and follows very much in that blissed-out, abstracted form, trimming down longer experiments into bijou ambient treats. A-side ‘Numa’ emerges from a chrysalis of shimmering tones into a more heavy set subbass organism glowing with lushly harmonised pads. B-side’s ‘Penarie’ diffuses what sounds like warped brass into stereo swirling arrangement before subsiding into plangent chords sounding like the peal of wedding bells heard from miles away.
A couple months back, we reviewed Celer & Machinefabriek‘s Maastunnel / Mt. Mitake 7″. Since then, the two have toured together, released a postcard and download document (Greetings from Celer & Machinefabriek) and bookended the tour with this second 7″ offering, which continues in the vein of tender, processed ambience. Included in the package is a download of two impressionistic videos from Marco Douma, which can be previewed via the release page.
The collaboration seems to have benefited both artists. As two of the scene’s most prolific producers, their output has at times seemed overwhelming; the presence of a counterpart allows each to stretch boundaries and consider previously unimagined sonic twists. As previously reported, Celer has developed a slightly more abrasive edge, evident in Bliksem‘s final minutes and apparent here at the 2:18 mark of “Numa”. The rising drone and crunchy electronics enrich the short composition – a distillation of a longer work – by providing welcome contrast and an element of danger. Like the cover art, this piece is a collage, and its strongest part is its promontory. As the piece returns to its ambient base, the listener remembers where it has wandered. The footstep hints of the fourth minute fall like mud dragged from the song’s center. ”Penarie” introduces the interruption earlier at approximately 1:23, dissolving into near-silence before floating down the river like the couple on the cover. A very slight ticking climax (beginning at 4:00) yields to soft electronic ripples and brings the timbre back to where it began: a cycle completed in only ten minutes.
Numa / Penarie is described as the second part of a series, which means that more should be on the way; both artists are on the right track, and after three more 7″s, we should have a very nice album.
Talk about limited editions. Only ten copies of Bliksem (the Dutch word for lightning) were made, and they were distributed on Celer‘s recent tour with Machinefabriek. If I’d been in the Netherlands at the time, I’d have wanted one; it’s a great event-appropriate souvenir, recorded at midnight on the eve of Will Long’s flight. As such, it reflects longing, excitement, hope, and a hint of the unknown: the quiet questions inspired by international travel. Will the tour go well? Will I make friends? Will the music be effective?
Long is now home, and thankfully his experience was a positive one. I’d be curious to hear a Bliksem II, a counterpart that incorporated the emotions of his time abroad. The piece is perfectly set up for a sequel, as it bursts into life in the final five minutes. Until then, it’s meditative, soothing, and benign, a series of electronic loops reminiscent of the ocean waters as viewed from the safety of a plane. But in its closing sixth, Bliksem is visited by static bursts and a busyness we last heard on Celer’s 7″ collaboration with Machinefabriek – confirmation that the lines between artists were blurred on that release. In these moments, Bliksem becomes more lightning than cloud. These increasing hints of a new direction are encouraging. It’s as if Long is beginning to emerge from extended sadness to tentative aggression; as if the cloud is trying to keep the lightning in check, but failing. At the end, the static rises sharply, shoots over to the left speaker, then dissipates: easily one of the most effective Celer moments to date.
The shift in conversation from pattern and texture to moment and sound is a welcome development; we look forward to hearing more Celer music in this vein.