Es ist nicht das erste mal, dass der Ambientmusiker Will Long alias Celer die Inspiration, die er auf Reisen gesammelt hat, zum Ausgangspunkt seiner Soundscapes macht. Auf „Two Days and One Night“ entwirft er ein Narrativ, zu dem der oft strapazierte Begriff „vielschichtig“ einmal wirklich passt, denn hier werden zwei Reisen in einer Geschichte verarbeitet: eine eigens unternommene und klanglich dokumentierte, daneben die lange zurückliegende Reise einer anderen Person, die er aus Erzählungen und Spekulationen rekonstruiert hat. Gemeinsam ist der Ort, an den es die beiden Reisenden verschlug, und die Familiengeschichte der beiden als Rahmen.

Mitte der Achtziger flog ein Großonkel Longs von New York nach Tunesien und mietete sich in einem Hotel in der Küstenstadt Hammamet ein. Von dort schrieb der bereits Achtzigjährige noch eine Postkarte an seine Familie zuhause. Tags drauf besorgte er sich eine Schwimmausrüstung, schwamm ins Meer hinaus und ertrank. Dass die Postkarte keine Nachricht, nur die Adresse der Empfänger enthielt, musste aus der Begebenheit fast zwangsläufig einen Mythos machen. 2015 besuchte Long Tunesien und reiste auf den Spuren seines Großonkels von Tunis nach Hammamet.

Auf „Two Days and One Night“, in den Samples, aber auch im atmosphärischen Narrativ der Musik, fließen beide Geschichten immer wieder ineinander – die Eindrucke, die der Musiker aufnahm, die Frage, auf welche Details sein Verwandter damals vielleicht geachtet hatte, die typischen Klänge der Orte, die beide – vermutlich – gesehen und gehört haben, und die tiefe, undurchdringliche Traurigkeit, in die sich der Onkel, der zwangsläufig fiktionale Züge bekommt, und der Musiker gleichermaßen einschreiben. In den alles überflutenden Wellen aus schweren Synthiesounds, die in beinahe jedem Stück die zahlreichen Feldaufnahmen früher oder später überfluten wie das Meer einen einsamen Schwimmer, scheinen beide Geschichten und beide Protagonisten miteinander zu verschmelzen.

Das Verschwinden zahlreicher Samples unter schweren Soundschichten ist in der Tat ein besonders auffälliges merkmal dieses Albums, denn in der Vergangenheit hielten sich der ambiente Rahmen und die an markanten Orten aufgeschnappten Details meist die Waage, Samples brachen immer wieder durch die Oberfläche der Soundscapes und bewirkten so, dass die Arbeiten einen hörspielartigen oder, wenn man so will, semi-dokumentarischen Charakter bekamen. Auf „Two Days and One Night“, dessen Titel bereits zeitliche Kürze impliziert, fällt beinahe alles dem Verschwinden anheim: brummende Motoren, hastige Schritte, tolle Melodien auf orientalischen Flöten, eine Durchsage auf französisch, vermutlich an einem Bahnhof, die Brandung. Wenig davon hat lange Bestand.

Es dauert nur eine kurze Zeit, bis sich ambiente Sounds, filigran gestaltet und stets in gemächlicher vibrierender Bewegtheit, über all das legt, es aufgehen lässt in einer leicht sehnsüchtig eingefärbten Schwermut, die den ganzen musikalischen Raum ausfüllt. „The Fear to Touch the Sand“ enthält nur die Geräusche der sanften Gezeiten, leicht verfremdet zu einem dubbigen Vibrato – sie werden als einzige von keiner Welle verschlungen. All dies sollte einen trotz allem nicht zu allzu konkreten Bedeutungszuweisungen verführen, denn die Musik (und auch die Tracktitel, die größtenteils auf Orte und ihre Eigenschaften referieren) bewahrt sich eine Offenheit, die den Mythos dieser beiden Episoden näherbringt und zugleich bestehen lässt.

“One of the lies that we tell ourselves is that we’re making progress.” That’s a quote from black activist H. Rap Brown, whose voice echoes throughout “Chumps,” where solemn pads hang so thick in the air that it’s easy to forget the beat underneath. Will Long’s first release for Comatonse, a three-part trilogy called Long Trax, is a requiem for change, mourning missed opportunities by returning to familiar ideas.

According to the label, run by Terre Thaemlitz, Long Trax“examines that pack of lies dubbed ‘change’ from the sweaty dance floor.” Appropriately for a record of that disposition, Long sticks to the basics: drum machines, synths and vocal samples. It’s subtle house music that often sounds more funereal than celebratory, a faint shadow of the spirit the genre often represents.

Long, who lives in Tokyo, is better known as the ambient producer Celer. That explains at least part of his approach to house music, which is slow and patient. It sounds like Thaemlitz is an influence, too. You could easily mistake the wounded rhythms and weary vocals of “Time Has Come” for DJ Sprinkles, who contributes “overdub” versions of every song.

Long Trax features seven of Long’s originals and seven Sprinkles overdubs. Long’s originals inhabit a lonely, forlorn world. The beats vary in speed and style, and drums are rarely the focal point. Voices bellow over endless expanses, while the synths sigh in resignation, layered like his ambient productions. More than an hour long, the first disc ofLong Trax is a meditative listen.

The overdubs ranges from tweaked versions to surprising overhauls. To the melancholy at the heart of “Time Has Come,” Thaemlitz adds one of her signature descending basslines, amplifying both its dour mood and its dance floor utility. She puts a sputtering breakbeat below “Under-Currents,” turning it from a moody murmur into something more hopeful. Her shades of optimism provide rich contrast to Long’s solemnity.

Thaemlitz is a fan of Long—she picked his Simultaneity as one of her favourite albums of this year—and she helps draw out his talent in house music that’s as engaging as his other work. His solemn grooves are universally poignant. It’s music you can take solace in, commiserate with, or find joy in. Long Trax bares itself with an emotional honesty that feels necessary—not just in the context of dance music’s social climate, but also at the end of an incredibly demoralizing year.

Will Long seemed to spring from nowhere when he released a trio of the year’s best house EPs – all of which are collected on Long Trax – without any fanfare. In fact he’s been active for years, producing billowing drones under a variety of monikers, the most acclaimed of which is Celer. His move into deep house territory is as apt as it is surprising, and is perfectly positioned on Terre Thaemlitz’s reliable Comatonse imprint. Thaemlitz even takes the time to add her own personal touches, as DJ Sprinkles, to each track, padding out Long’s euphoric, minimal compositions with her unmistakable square wave bass lines and clipped percussive elements. But it’s Long’s originals that have the biggest impact – while the DJ Sprinkles edits work perfectly in a club setting, his tracks are masterfully restrained, the incremental changes only making sense after repeat listens. It’s serious lights-down, eyes-shut material that recalls another era of deep house – nobody mention Disclosure.

Already in 2012 Will Long, also known as Celer, and Dirk Serries, also known as Vidna Obmana and Fear Falls Burning (to name a few of his projects) started exchanging some sound material, but it took a full year before Long even had an idea what to do with Serries’ guitar sounds. Long explains this on the press text, but me no understand what he did: “Using the original track that I sent Dirk at the very beginning as a sound source, I shaped it exactly like Dirk’s responding source file – the musical colour and frequencies were the same, but the effects and enveloping was triggered by the waves of Dirk’s track.[…] It may be hard to hear the two sides, but it’s really built
by the background curtain, and even if you can’t hear it’s place, it’s definitely there. Where does one thing begin and another end? Maybe you can hear it?” It may explain the title of the release though. Both of these two pieces work with Serries long sustaining guitar drones sounds, with slowly envelop, overlaid, I guess, with Celer’s own drones, perhaps created by a transformation or two of the original Serries input, but then more stretched out, adding more variations of the same colour to the whole. ‘Above/Below’ is the darker side of the moon here, while the second piece, not surprisingly called ‘Below/Above’, represents the lighter side of the coin. This is music that absolute weightless space stuff, transporting the listener through an endless black universe and the notes of Serries, especially on ‘Below/Above’ are like little stars at the firmament. Maybe I just wrote that because of the impending Christmas season? I have no idea; it is one of those beautiful shiny winter days and Celer and Dirk Serries provide the perfect soundtrack for such a day, in which everything seems to slow down.

「yoin callback / 余韻コールバック」

11月30日(水)から、自らの作品も発表しつつ、カセットレーベルを主催しているDuenn(ダエン)と Celer名義でSpekk等のレーベルからリリースしているWill Long(ウィル・ロング)の二人による音と写真の展覧会を開催します。
展覧会のキュレーションを行う調(しらべ)が彼らの素材をマイクロコンピュータの制御でエディットしてアウトプットします。

+ [作家]
– Duenn (音)
– Will Long (写真)
+ [キュレーター]
– 調 原作 (コンピューター制御)

http://yoin-callback.info/

11月30日(水)〜 12月17日(土)
12:00〜18:00

■休み:日、月、火曜日
■料金:入場無料
■場所:ヴァルト アート スタジオ
[092-633-3989 福岡市博多区千代4-12-2]

Have you ever looked up into the sky at night, and it seemed that you could see beyond the stars? How many times have you looked up, but how few do you actually remember? I remember two times:

The sky seemed to roll, the stars flickering in the humidity of the late-August evening. It makes your throat feel dry and your body strained. Staring up, “We can’t see stars like this at home”, we said to each other. Lying on the concrete slab behind the garage, and at one time standing, we kept on watching – the factory near of my hometown humming, passing cars on the nearby highway sizzling in the distance.

…Or when we were in the onsen town in the mountains – there was nowhere to walk to at night, but we trudged through the snow so I could take photos, our shoes soaked and our feet freezing. You could see your breath in the air. You can’t hear snow fall. We opened the wooden sliding door and walked back into the warmth of the light.

The next day we looked out, all the leaves were brown in the freezing November, and the stars were hidden. The blue river was ahead and down the hill, and we didn’t even think about what was or wasn’t above from the night before, past the stars now hidden by the sun.

When looking up, the least important thing is what you see – or that there is even anything in space, beyond the blackness. The beauty and the demons share the space where we are already.

– Will Long, 2016

CD available on or around December 1, 2016

Non sorprende trovarsi davanti al monumentale lavoro di Will Long e constatare la disarmante semplicità con la quale la sua musica riesce a scavare veri e propri solchi nell’anima. Beat dopo beat, con la sola forza del suo essere House. Long Trax viene pubblicato dalla Comatose Recordings di Terre Thaemlitz aka Dj Sprinkles in una preziosa raccolta in doppio CD o diviso su sette vinili contenuti in tre separate uscite, tutte in edizione limitata con le cover illustrate da Tsuji Aiko.

“Ho sempre amato l’House music, ed in questo momento posso dire che questo suono rappresenta molti aspetti della mia attuale esistenza, perché storicamente  si lega a molti avvenimenti sociali che sento vicini. Dove l’ambient o la musica sperimentale sono ascoltati in luoghi solitari, la musica dance è assorbita invece all’interno di clubs affollati, e questo è molto interessante per me adesso. Ora penso che molte delle cose che volevo comunicare attraverso la musica non funzionavano bene con l’ambient o la sperimentazione, o forse sono semplicemente cambiato dopo dieci anni produzioni ambient.”

Nato nel 1980 nel Mississippi, William Thomas Long ha cominciato a produrre musica ambient e sperimentale dopo gli studi di filosofia e giornalismo, trasferendosi prima in California e successivamente in Indonesia e Giappone, paese nel quale risiede e sembra aver trovato stabilità.

“Il tamburo è stato il primo vero strumento che abbia suonato, ho iniziato a produrre House music poco prima della nascita di mia figlia, ed ho potuto osservarla mentre imparava a seguire il ritmo ed a divertirsi con questo durante gli ultimi due anni. Non c’è nulla di sperimentale in tal proposito, ed è una cosa che mi piacerebbe continuare a fare.”

E’ bene lasciare da parte ogni artificio, concentrarsi sull’essenziale e lasciar partire questi sette lunghissimi brani nei quali pochissimi elementi riescono a costruire un viaggio unico ed estremamente profondo. Un suono che varia in piccoli anfratti quasi impercettibili e che se visto con distacco non rende la sua grandezza.
Il groove è catturato nella sua essenza, in un battito costante che non fa riferimento a nessun retaggio funk o disco, è metronomico, lineare ma allo stesso tempo caldo ed avvolgente grazie a quelle spire si synth che sembrano far poggiare le strutture ritmiche su un materasso avvolto di seta ed a quei sample vocali che rendono eteree anche le sfumature più terrene.

Non è distante, per certi versi, il suo passato nel progetto Celer, quell’attitudine malinconica nella stesura delle melodie è qui esaltata dalla fusione con il ritmo ma è pur sempre vicina all’ambient. E’ dance espressa come fermo immagine di una mente intenta nell’atto di ballare, sensazioni e pensieri di chi vive il dancefloor come passo che vada oltre il crudo divertimento.

“L’estetica minimale che puoi riscontrare non è assolutamente intenzionale come potrebbe sembrare. Faccio uso di un setup veramente basic e credo che sia più giusto preservare l’integrità nuda e cruda degli strumenti che utilizzo piuttosto che saturare la musica con strati di plugin o effetti senz’anima. Anche molta della musica ambient che ho prodotto in passato è stata registrata seguendo questo modus operandi. Inoltre, se provate ad ascoltare alcuni brani house classici, noterete che questi sono veramente semplici e fatti con pochissimi elementi. A mio modo di vedere, questo è lontano dal concetto di minimalismo, è anzi un focus sulla ricchezza delle strutture.”

Infonde ipnosi, calore e passione, perché nel suo disegno complessivo sembra fondersi in un’unica soundtrack che lascia immaginare la notte, il sudore caldo, gli spazi chiusi e fumosi e il movimento filtrato attraverso i frames di una bianca luce stroboscopica. Per ognuno dei sette brani, Dj Sprinkles confeziona la rispettiva overdub, versioni vicine alle stesure originali in quasi tutti i casi, e che nello specifico aggiungono quel tocco di calore concentrato sui bassi, su soluzioni armoniche dub e su una serie di rifiniture ritmiche attuate attraverso l’utilizzo di percussioni, tamburi e piattini vari. Un lavoro che arricchisce il dettaglio e solidifica questi battiti andando a completare un album House la cui bellezza cristallina non potrà non farvi innamorare. Ascoltarlo sarà immedesimarsi in un mantra ritmico nel quale poter riflettere, ricordare, progettare il futuro o semplicemente abbandonarsi al ballo.

“Parte tutto dalla voce, sulla quale costruisco poi ritmo ed accordi. Ho lavorato ad ogni brano come se fosse un singolo, non pensavo all’album nel momento in cui ho iniziato, ed inoltre adoro i brani che sanno stare in piedi da soli. Seguendo questo approccio non sento il bisogno di reinventarmi costantemente od avere il vincolo di cambiare ogni volta che inizio un lavoro. Tendo a considerare tutto questo come una semplice e continua evoluzione dei temi che sto affrontando.”

E’ un lavoro importante per l’House, perché affronta il tema della dance seguendone il modus operandi originario e guardando il tutto con gli occhi di chi inevitabilmente vive, assorbe e prova a decodificare il mondo durante questi difficili anni.

Difficile de suivre la production de Celer (désormais Will Long) tellement sa discographie est dense. L’année 2014 est peut-être l’exception avec seulement 4 albums dont une auto-production, parmi lesquels on compte le Zigzag paru chez Spekk (chroniqué ici) et donc ce Sky Limits que l’on est agréablement surpris de retrouver sur le label français Baskaru.

Celer fait parti de ces artistes que l’on commence à bien connaitre et dont on se dit qu’il aura du mal à nous surprendre tellement sa production est homogène. En effet Will Long aligne, certains diront “avec facilité”, les nappes aériennes d’une ambient classique, fortement teintées de nostalgie, et lorgnant parfois vers le minimalisme. Parler de nappes aériennes et réaliser que l’album s’intitule Sky Limits, on se dit qu’il est on ne peut plus logique que Celer campe sur son registre de prédilection. Alors oui, aucune surprise à l’écoute de Circle Routes qui ouvre le disque sur une belle ambient aux nappes tristounes, pleines de nostalgie, voire empreintes d’une certaine gravité. C’est simple, un drone, une nappe qui compose une mélodie répétitive et on se laisse porter ainsi pendant une petite dizaine de minutes.

Mais la surprise se produit lorsque l’on découvre les interludes qui servent de transition entre deux pièces ambient. De simples field recordings, sans le moindre artifice, captés à Tokyo et Kyoto, des scènes du quotidien dont les titres disent tout, y compris la date. Ainsi on devine que le musicien est en train de se faire du thé sur (12.5.12) Making Tea over a Rocket Launch Broadcast tandis qu’en arrière plan la télé diffuse le lancement d’une fusée.
Le procédé apporte indéniablement quelque chose à la musique de Celer, une musique ambient, abstraite, qui prend ancrage dans le réel, dans un quotidien qui s’estompe progressivement, à l’image de la mémoire qui efface petit à petit les souvenirs. Passé ce constat, on revient aux douces nappes synthétiques avec In Plum and Magenta, mais on lui préfèrera la franchise deTangent Lines, moins doux, plus direct et hypnotique avec ses nappes répétitives.

Alors que l’album s’achève sur Attempts to Make Time Pass Differently, cette mélodie a un air de déjà entendu, l’impression qu’il s’agit d’une reprise d’un titre précédent, même mélodie mais autres sonorités ? A moins que ce ne soit Celer qui joue lui aussi avec notre mémoire…

Celer is very active these days with new releases, all recorded by Will Long, but of course you know it was a duo of Will and his wife Danielle Baquet-Long, who died in 2009. The music on ‘I Love You So Much I Can’t Even Title This’ was recorded when she was alive and is inspired by Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’, known to be one of the saddest pieces of classical music, premiered in 1938 but gaining much popularity. Apparently right before Barber died in 1981 he said, “I wish people would listen to my other compositions.” Celer recorded their album using tape and laptop, title ‘came alluded to a Morrissey song’ (also a no festival of joy kind of guy) and released on CDR back then. The music, according to Discogs, was recorded using ‘field recordings made of choirs and a string quartet, performing the works of Samuel Barber, at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco,
California, in late 2006’, but all of this is now stretched out further and beyond recognition (I think), but it is of similar emotional depth. This is the music of sadness indeed, and perhaps our mind is steered in that direction, since we know the tragic end of Danielle, but even without that, I would think this is all quite sad music. Each side is about fifteen minutes and performs a fine, utter minimalist flow of drone sounds, which indeed could lifted from string quartet or a choir, but it is all transformed to such an extent that this is no longer to be recognized from the results. Of all of these three new releases this is the one that is the most refined, most ambient music if you will and without much happening. If any of these three doesn’t enforce anything upon the listener it is the music of Celer, and it is something that fills up your space in a great way, either when you play this soft or a bit louder. More interesting, however, than ignorable, I’d say.