Ah, good old Celer. A new release means making coffee, picking up a book, putting the CD on repeat, and sitting back for a fair amount of time. I am not reading all the time. Sometimes I will close my eyes, even fall asleep, or I will get up and walk about a bit. Look at my bookshelves, CDs and records. Maybe there is something to organize again? I can watch out over the quiet street on this greyish Thursday afternoon, for which ‘Coral Sea’ seems the perfect soundtrack. Quiet and grey, that is well-translated into music by Will Long here. Not grey as in dull, but as in painting a moody colour. It is not a surprise when I say this is atmospheric music. Celer’s music is hauntingly minimal, just a few very long sustaining drones that go in and out of phase, slowly drifting apart and coming together. All of this happens in long, majestic flows. There is a quick fade in and a slightly slower fade out at the end; it all stays in the same volume for the rest. For all I care, it could have been the full eighty minutes of this. There is movement, there is change, and yet there is not. It is what it is. Phill Niblock’s ‘Early Winter’ sprang to mind, or perhaps other pieces of his as well. There is a similar vastly layered sound here with Celer this time around, with slowly drifting ice caps. Celer is here at his most orchestral, I think. I love it, but I am a fanboy, so not the most critical mind.
Archive for September, 2021
Sin llegar a la categoría de clásico, sí se puede decir que Celer es ya todo un veterano del panorama ambient. Desde desarrollos más erosivos y potentes como los inicios de Tim Hecker a atmósferas de gran peso emocional, el norteamericano ha hecho de todo.
I’m still recovering from the last Celer release I covered – the four-disc Future Predictions, released only last summer. It wasn’t harsh or sonically challenging: it was just really, really long. This one, however, is rather shorter, comprising twelve tracks with a running time of just twenty-nine minutes.
It is, notably a departure. As the press notes detail, with In Light Of Blues, ‘[Will] Long pivots away from long-form works to create a series of vignettes that capture the essence of his aesthetics interests. The record condenses and refines his compositional methodologies forming each piece as an acoustic miniature speckled in hazy harmony and evocative tonality’.
As such, as much as In Light Of Blues is a departure, it is also very much a continuation of his previous work, while concentrating it down to shorter snippets – but with no loss of power or depth. Long’s comments on the reason for this departure are illuminating:
‘It was months ago, but it could have been weeks, days, or even hours since then. I stopped wanting to hear loops, I wanted to stop it. I added brass; trumpets, trombones, and more horns. I cut it out like words from a book, and sewed it back together. Burroughs. These movements are merely to stay alive, to stay moving.’
In citing [William] Burroughs, Long’s observation that ‘You wake up from a truck horn passing in the early morning hours on the nearby freeway, or from a dream that you can’t tell was a nightmare or a loving memory… Someone walks by on the street wearing the same perfume. I drew out each place, each scene, and put the story there. It might have been with you, or without you. All I know is that you were there somehow the whole time, even if you weren’t’ marks a striking parallel with some of Burroughs’ statements on the way the cut-up technique was an attempt to being art closer to life: “every time you walk down the street, your stream of consciousness is cut by random factors… take a walk down a city street… you have seen half a person cut in two by a car, bits and pieces of street signs and advertisements, reflections from shop windows – a montage of fragments”.
While the pieces on In Light Of Blues are composed from a montage of fragments, instead of jarring against one another and crossing over one another to replicate the blizzard of simultaneity that is life, they blur together to create a slow-creeping sonic mist. The details are obscured, the edges indistinct, the definition vague to almost absent. Some of the pieces are fragments in themselves: the second of the three ‘Melancholy Movement’ compositions is only fractionally over a minute long, and there are a number of pieces of similarly brief duration.
Time appears to be something of a leading preoccupation on In Light Of Blues, as titles including ‘Days Before the Change’, ‘In the Intimate Hours’, ‘After All Time’, and ‘Precious Past Hours’ indicate. The titles suggest a certain urgency, an anxiety, even, over the passing of time that’s not necessarily apparent in the music itself. But as is so often the case, with ambient / abstract musical forms, the music conveys only some aspects of the full meaning or intention, and beneath comparatively tranquil surfaces often lie more trouble currents, and there are numerous billows of darker, denser sound which rumble and stir, evoking brewing storms amidst the soft layers of the pieces here.
Perhaps this is the real pleasure – and perhaps also the purpose – of In Light Of Blues. It’s an album that can simply be allowed to drift along in the background, the darker clouds occasionally tugging the attention while, in the main, it may pass largely without the demand for focus. But closer attention yields greater rewards, in the sonic depths and subtle textures that reveal themselves through that engagement, and to seek the space beneath the surface, to explore its context and origins and consider what it may mean beyond the surface yields more still.