Archive for November, 2019

We have enjoyed moments of previous Celer releases, but today I’m finding Xiexie an over-long chore. Two discs of endlessly looping slow ambient drone inspired, it seems, by his travels in China. It seems to have been raining perpetually during his sojourn, even one track title remarks on the rain, and that rain has seeped into every note on the album. It’s a perpetual loop of a scene from Blade Runner. The sleeve is covered with grey tourist photos of incredible banality, and his press release notes find deep personal significance in his every gesture, no matter how trivial. Even the music aggrandises this self-centred take on life, providing a quasi-heroic soundtrack for meandering around a foreign city.

The word 谢 谢 (Xièxie) is composed of two Chinese characters, which translate to “thank you”, perhaps a simple homage to the people the artist Will Long met on a trip from Shanghai to Hangzhou in 2017. Or perhaps Xièxie is easier to pronounce in a language that is difficult for Westerners. The project was published by Two Acorns and in this instance Long used his alias Celer. Here he sets some field recordings and measured sound drones on 11 cinematic, highly dilated and enjoyable tracks on a double CD. The work is a kind of audio-diary, a poetic translation of the suggestions raised by crossing between places and situations, moving over different environments with different climatic conditions, with the alternation of sunsets and neon lights, awakenings and markets, nature and metropolis, flashes and fogs. The set is never dissonant, but very sensitive and quietist, focusing on a distilled and sweet aesthetic rendering. Celer tries to re-sound the atmospheres of the places he passes through; however, there is always an inner melody. It seems that in specific spaces we might be able to pick out only what is already inside our heads, like being in a transfer that moves schemes of feelings and emotions from different settings – where the megastore HDTV screens can easily become something else, maybe artificial stars. The voices are recorded, not because of what they say, but because of their “exotic” intonation as musical forms. Even the muddiest sequences are set to bewitch, seduce, to transport the listener into a suspended dimension, one that is slightly magical and introverted. Every transition is deceiving, it can bring additional references, and the times are cyclical, as in a continuous production and decline, in eternal and infinite sequences. The author is there, in the place, and doesn’t compose from inside an empty space: through “real” references he can partially try to filter his private dialogue, or at least bring it under control. The reality provides the impulse, but then everything remains vague and needs further suggestion to develop into accomplished musical structures. Traveling opens other doors and Celer is unlikely to stop a musical flux made of moments translated into sounds. There is nothing left but to say thank you, a little profusely, “thank you, thank you”. These words resound as a personal mantra that reconnects us to an aestheticized daily life, made, for this, more bearable.