Precise, crystalline synth academia from Rangefinder, with Night Ride, on Tokyo based Bun Tapes. Tracks that seem to present themselves as objects for observation. As each new element is introduced, it is made fully available in the mix, unobscured, and presented from all angles to absorb each new effect in context with the former. For me, this feels as much academic in execution as artistic. That some synth music can be as much about displaying the science of composing sound as it is about creating astral soundtracks shrouded in mystery. This one strikes a fine line between the two, plenty of opportunities to zone out into the horizon, and still not lose sight of the computations encompassing the delivery of a sine and square wave. Sounds like a starship full of mathematicians.
The physical product is really quite striking. Peach shells, professionally imprinted, nice beefy card stock and design. Seems like the tape equivalent of the PAN aesthetic.
“In a white-hot blue rush, the sun came breaking in with enough strength to push you over backwards. Smoke was still lingering on the ceilings, being sucked out once the windows opened up. She leaned out the window, looking down into the empty streets. Nobody. It’s a more peaceful life, now. Everyone’s at the beach, no more working. They gave that up years ago. He came into the room, and laid down on the sofa.
Minutes later, night was coming, and the car warmed up, as they went out along the boule- vards, and into the mountains, for the foggy climb to the top. The keyboards on the tape ste- reo sizzled in the crisp night air, and below, from the lookout point, all the lights were off and quiet. Let’s sit here and see the moon rise.” – Harmony State
Harmony State is the debut release by Rangefinder, aka Will Long. The project was started as a return to the technology of the 1970’s and 1980’s, using only Yamaha synthesizers, Roland sequencers, and multitrack tape mixing. With the current availability and countless options through computers, it can be overwhelming, and can destroy the immediacy of creativity and spontaneity through becoming too involved with processes and possibilities.
Harmony State came from experimenting with simple capabilities and ideas, and through this, finding a way to have fun and enjoy making music.
Available from now Room40!
The first release of my new project Rangefinder, ‘Night Ride’, is now available on cassette from Bun Tapes.
You’re instantly moving at 130 kph, the long stretching highway thinning on the horizon, turning to dust in the past behind. There’s a permanent sunset, since the sun now spins horizontally. Shooting stars fall to the east, the closest to darkness we’ll see. The stadium lights of the city replicate the daylight, but from here, practically alone on the salt flats, there’s nothing but dry desert and evening light. Let everything stop, and then spin out of control. Tempos are dancing, the radio sings, and the lost days have past. We never thought the dreamers would win in the end, but we did.
Night Ride is the debut release of Bun Tapes, available in an unnumbered edition with a full color insert, white and transparent norelco case, and sun-orange imprinted cassettes.
Cassette available now in these shops:
Japan: Bun Tapes Meditations Murmur Records
United Kingdom: Norman Records
Digital: Rangefinder Bandcamp
Paging all Celer fans, paging all Celer fans, here is a new project from Will Long.
Based more along his love for synthy sequencing than the pastoral drift of his other noted group, the sound here is gently undulating pulsy synth work, very drifty and evocative but more in line with the kosmiche type sounds we regularly write about in these pages.
It sounds not unlike 70s scary synth soundtracks with undulating bloops underneath phasing keys. There is a nice sense of melody to some of the tracks with chord patterns shifting creating a quite melodic take on the genre.
On a very limited tape release.
When we look at the current landscape of contemporary art we should be reminded of the words of Alexander Hamilton when he wrote, “I never expect a perfect work from an imperfect man.” We might take this to mean that there is a connection between the kind of standard we expect from ourselves as human beings and the kind of work we do in our personal lives. So it is with creative work. We live in an age of artistic production which relies heavily on distorting form so as to avoid accountability for intention: if form is abolished, artists seem to say, so too is the ability to recognize a common-denominator by which we might evaluate those who would sound the depths of our experience as people, and those who would simply play the part of master to reap the cultural rewards of that position. This rule is not the exception, but the norm: artists like Miranda July or James Franco specialize in not being able to be pinned down, so as to not reveal that in fact they are simply promoting themselves and are quite simply merely competent as artists — no more, no less.
By the standard of Alex Hamilton’s words on work, however, the record under review is a testament to both recent Japan expat Will Long’s established Celer and Japanese composer Takahiro Yorifuji’s Hakobune project. Vain Shapes and Intricate Parapets will appeal to listeners who seek out the more peaceful and honest strains of contemporary music, exploring as it does a simple musical theme that is both melancholy and unaffected. The droning chords here lack adornment, with two long pieces evolving through a striking and gorgeous use of harmony; the effect when listening is often like the effect of seeing elegantly cut marble. The two long songs here seem to recreate the way in which heartache spreads pain through the center of one’s chest and back. This is a form of emotional expression that few artists are able to achieve, and which is arrestingly done here (those familiar with Celer’s background will know that Long has dealt with far more than his share of sadness) — in fact one feels the emotion portrayed by the work in one’s body. How many artists attempt to replicate this feeling and do not succeed? The history of music is littered with the attempts of artists to do so in the most cringe-inducing ways. The rarity of a successful use of such expression shows this record to be a special one.
Among the weaker aspects of the album, however, lies a sort of harsh and compressed sound that diminishes the beauty of the instrumentation. The titles of the pieces, too, jar the reader with their wordiness, verging on the precious. Rows of three, four, and five-syllable words (“Merges of Hysterical Exhilaration,” “Complete Possession of Full Temerity,” etc.) seem less expressive, profound as the thought that directed them might be.
These are minor quibbles however: the exquisite design by Chemical Tapes — a photo of a sunset’s reflection burning on a lake – matches the music in both spareness and elegance, and spending a few tranquil hours with the release is something one should be grateful for. Contemporary music would be better off if there were more works of substance like this.
La musique de Celer (Will Long) est toujours très paisible. Viewpoint est un morceau de 76 minutes divisé en 26 parties enchaînées (et présentées en une seule piste sur le CD). Électronique ambiante qui établit une atmosphère puis cherche presque à disparaître, régulière sans devenir monotone, avec juste assez de changement pour accompagner l’auditeur. On frôle la béatitude; pourtant tout cela tient à bien peu de choses. L’album le plus abouti de Celer à ce jour.La musique de Celer (Will Long) est toujours très paisible. Viewpoint est un morceau de 76 minutes divisé en 26 parties enchaînées (et présentées en une seule piste sur le CD). Électronique ambiante qui établit une atmosphère puis cherche presque à disparaître, régulière sans devenir monotone, avec juste assez de changement pour accompagner l’auditeur. On frôle la béatitude; pourtant tout cela tient à bien peu de choses. L’album le plus abouti de Celer à ce jour.
Celer’s music is always very calm. Viewpoint is a 76-minute piece in 26 segued parts (and presented as a single track on the CD). Ambient electronic music that sets a mood than tries to disappear behind it. Steady without getting boring, with just enough change to accompany the listener. It gets very close to bliss, yet it consists of very little. This is Celer’s most accomplished record to date.
I’m about ready to formally declare that the title of Best Ambient Artist of the Decade should go to Will Long, who records under the name Celer. (For the first five years of its existence, Celer was actually a duo that also included Danielle Baquet-Long.) Long’s latest album consists of a single, 78-minute-long track putatively divided into 26 individually-titled “movements” — but the divisions between them are inaudible and undetectable. The music floats like a delicous mist in which simple chords undulate without progressing; once in a while the mood turns weird and foreboding, but then the sun comes out again and everything is peace and light. The great challenge for an ambient-music artist is to make music that is quiet and evocative without tipping over into New Age gloppiness; how Long does this is kind of a mystery, but he surely does.