Archive for May, 2019

The cover image immediately brought back memories of my own trip to China in 2016. I think I made an almost identical picture in that high-speed train. And, like Will Long, we also bought a dictionary and phrasebook but never got beyond that word for ‘thank you’: Xièxie (谢谢).

Celer‘s XièXie is a double album (2LP/2CD) documenting his impressions from travelling in China in June 2017. Some of the tracks have a date and are field recordings with descriptive titles like Birds inside the high halls of Hangzhou, Shanghai Red Line, From the doorway of a beef noodle shop, or, indeed Maglev at 303km/h. Other tracks are Celer‘s distinctive loops, unhurried and intensely relaxing. There are eleven different tracks but they are mixed into two uninterrupted dreamlike journeys (the download contains two extra tracks with uncut versions of the album).

There’s a contradiction in the cover image of a train moving at 303 km/h and the slow music it contains. But looking out from a train at that speed the world seems to be moving slower, not faster.
XièXie is a recommended soundtrack for everyone that feels life is moving too fast.

Tokyo based ambient musician Will Long’s 100th release as Celer was inspired by a trip to China – and from the opening recordings of traffic, bicycle bells, whistles, horns and overheard conversations Xiexie (Thank You in Chinese) conveys the feeling of the attentive traveller: overwhelmed, watchful and far from home. The intriguing track titles and the accompanying train-interior imagery (made by Machinefabriek’s Rutger Zuydervelt) effortlessly pull together the disparate threads of a journey, invoking the peace that comes from being disconnected from your surroundings, moving at high speed yet feeling suspended in time.

For the most part, Xiexie plays out in a seamless continuation of sounds that shift slowly in a liminal flow. However midway through, “For The Entirety” pulls you out of the sedation induced by the brown noise hypnotherapy of the previous tracks and into a more traditional assembly of string timbres and loops that feels spacious and cinematic.

The more musical pieces – “Rains Lit By Neon”, “In The Middle Of The Moving Field”, “For The Entirety”, “Prelude To Obsession I & II” and “Our Dream To Be Strangers” – undulate in waves that impart a feeling of being suspended in time and space. Gentle cycles of delayed tones overlap each other in loops, a simplicity that belies the density of sound and movement. In the midst of the extended, uplifting sweeps of cadence that slide in and out of focus, shorter, more finely calibrated excerpts of recordings give context and form to the shapeshifting drones; the sounds of cities and train stations, children and speaker-announcements provide a sense of place.

A favourite moment during “(06.24.17) Birds Inside The High Halls Of Hangzhou, (06.23.17) Shanghai Red Line, Metro Karaoke” involves the increasing pitch of an accelerating metro train, inducing a momentary feeling of unease, paired with the rhythmic beat of a tambourine made by a pair of disabled beggers wandering the aisles of the carriage. Celer’s assuredness of tone and execution achieves a delicate balance of genius loci, human feeling and musicality.

L’ultimo capitolo della sterminata discografia di Will Long a.k.a. Celer, destinato a essere il penultimo nel giro di pochi minuti. La cosa davvero sorprendente e che, a dispetto della prolifica discografia, fatta di CDr, downloads, qualche CD e pochi vinili, la produzione di Celer e sempre di impareggiabile livello creativo e certamente questo Xiexie non fa eccezione. Ambient DOC, droni suggestivi, layers elettronici mishiati a field recordings, continuum elettroacustici.

Impressioni di pioggia, autunni mistici, nebbie impertinenti, estati estatiche; l’ascoltatore – protagonista di questo catalizzatore – aggiunga il propio se, poiche assai poco contano le indicazioni fornite o le note di copertina. La musica di Celer, evocativa e arcana, e pronta ad avviluppare il vostro inconscio, sottolineare i desideri, accarezzare le memorie. Xiexie (grazie, grazie tante in cinese) si presenta come un’uscita importante, testimone di un viaggo e un contatto con la Cina contemporanea, disponibile perfino in vinile e, come del resto tutti gil altri album dei Celer, e semplicemente, disarmantemente ammaliante, ipnotico e magnetico: un compagno per serate solitarie e meditative, un complice del profondo silenzio. Un album da ascoltare e da consultare, assolutamente da avere.

Früher war nicht alles besser. Gegen den Wunsch von Künstler*innen, Neues zu machen, ihre eigene Stimme zu finden, spricht wenig. Viel sogar dafür. Innovationen in der Musik halten selbige am Leben und in Spannung. Doch es spricht auch einiges dafür, ab und zu Halt zu machen, sich umzuschauen, was es denn da so gibt und wie das überhaupt ist. Denn die Ersten sind nicht immer die Besten bzw. nicht immer die einzig Guten. Beispiel Ambient-Techno mit Field-Recording-Samples. Viel Käse vorhanden, wenig Herausragendes. Das 1997 veröffentlichte Album »Substrata« von Biosphere ist wohl eines der allerpositivsten Beispiele. Es klingt altbacken, aber heute hält ja so gut wie jede*r sein Richtmikro aus dem Fenster und wirft die Ergebnisse ins Netz. Selten hat man als außenstehende Person einen Mehrwert. Viel zu oft fehlt zum Beispiel das musikalische Etwas – wie auch immer das aussieht –, welches das Interesse hält. Will Long alias Celer (Ex von Danielle Marie Baquet alias Chubby Wolf) ist einer dieser Ambient-Musiker*, der massenhaft Alben veröffentlicht, jedoch hie und da mit seiner Arbeit ins Schwarze trifft. So wie auf dem neuen, von einem Aufenthalt in China inspirierten »Xièxie« (heißt Dankeschön auf Chinesisch). Nicht nur versucht Long, die Stimmung der Umgebung einzufangen und als Inspiration im Booklet anzugeben. Er benutzt gefundene Geräusche, wie z. B. den Losfahrsound der Berliner U-Bahn auf dem Album »Tempelhof«, und baut diese in einen absolut hörbaren Track ein, lässt sie in seine Musik einfließen. Wie auf genanntem »Substrata«, nur ohne dessen begleitende Dub-Sounds, die dem Material einen gewissen Schwung verleihen, erwarten einen äußerst stimmungsvolle, zum Teil heftige Drones, die auch mal wie die Loops von William Basinski durch die Wiederholung von Themen über eine langen Zeitraum ihre Intensität erzeugen. Die verregnete, neblige Stimmung Shanghais ist zu erahnen, lässt man den absolut kalten, monotonen 20-minütigen Höhepunkt »For The Entirety« auf sich wirken (vgl. »Melancholia« von Basinksi). Celer macht hier wirklich nichts bahnbrechend Neues, vor allem nicht in Anbetracht seiner eigenen Diskographie, aber die Art, wie er es tut, macht ihn hörenswert. (Gemastert vom Meister Stephan Mathieu.)

Celer’s latest album, Xièxie, is a daunting undertaking at first glance. Not only does it read like a travel diary, but in-between the ten-plus minute tracks are interludes, sound recordings that narrate the beautiful textures that bookend each glimpse into Will Long’s trip to China.

It’s a tale of juxtaposing sounds that come together as a sublime narrative of travel. Field recordings form intros – instead of becoming part of the main tracks (as you’d likely expect from an album like this) – but thats the point. Upon each moment of significance, Will takes you elsewhere, painting a glimpse of voyeurism and scattered, slow motion activity. Drawn-out loops of dreams from a window turn into water paintings and a pensive, dystopian backdrop.

Simple and refined, this will become my perfect recommendation for anyone looking for the sharp point of emotive ambient music – it’s all here: narrative, escapism, texture, story and reflection. One to get lost in.