US born and now Tokyo-based electronic producer Will Long seemingly never stops working, something evidenced by his massive backcatalogue of releases under the alias Celer, his solo project since the untimely passing of his partner Danielle Baquet-Long in 2009. Indeed, this latest album ‘Xièxie’ (Mandarin for ‘thank you’) on his own Two Acorns label represents just one of three longplayers that he’s released so far during 2019.
Inspired by a recent trip to Shanghai and Hangzhou, the eleven tracks collected here offer up a sonic travelogue that sees Long merging urban field recordings from the aforementioned cities and voyages with drone-centred electronic ambience. At a sprawling 95 minutes in length (with one of the tracks coming in at 21 minutes), it’s an immersive experience that’s best taken in a single listening session, conjuring the sense of constant motion and activity as the cityscapes blur past.
‘(06.23.17) From The Doorway Of The Beef Noodle Shop, Shoes On The Street In The Rain, Outside The Karate School’ vividly evokes the random sonic encounters listed in the title as the distant sound of street conversations gives way to the hum of motorscooters and bicycle bells, the scooter horns exhibiting a Doppler effect as they pass by against the background sound of rain, only to suddenly be replaced by the chanting of Karate students practising their katas.
As things segue seamlessly into ‘Rains Lit By Neon’, the warm background layers of ambient electronics begin to swell more towards the foreground, a hint of mournful horn texture playing amidst the gently cycling harmonics as the sampled elements momentarily depart.
Elsewhere, ‘(06.26.17) Maglev at 303 km/h’ sees the subsonic interior rumble of the high-speed train linking Shanghai and Hangzhou providing a field-recorded segue that’s equally ominous and lulling, before the 21 minute long ‘For The Entirety’ offers up this album’s centrepiece as majestic layers of shifting synth harmonics intertwine with the background sound of gently twinkling keyboards, conjuring a minimalistic ambient suite that focuses on developing a sense of blissful contemplation rather than really changing over its expansive running length. In many ways it’s emblematic of what Long is aiming for here – the equivalent of sonic slow food that’s best taken in a single unhurried session.