Impossible de suivre l’ensemble des productions de Celer, à croire qu’il compose un album en moins de temps qu’il nous faut pour rédiger une chronique ! Entre les sorties physiques et numériques, c’est une vingtaine d’albums que Will Long a sorti depuis celui-ci (soit environ 1 par mois), que ce soit des sorties personnelles (sur son compte Bandcamp), sur son propre label (Two Acorns) comme c’est le cas ici, ou encore d’autres structures (Zoharum, Cellar Door Tapes, …).

Le style de l’Américain est bien défini, probablement facilement reconnaissable même s’il ne doit pas souvent apparaître dans des blind tests. Si l’on avait été assez bluffé par le parti pris plutôt radical de sa musique, et en particulier son minimalisme, nous n’avons plus vraiment d’effet de surprise aujourd’hui. Pas de changement en effet dans le style de Celer que l’on imagine d’ailleurs mal changer de voie. Au contraire, avec cette pièce unique qui frôle les 1h20, il ne fait que confirmer sa singularité.
À l’origine Akagi est un projet un peu particulier puisqu’il s’agit d’une commande pour un événement autour de la pratique du yoga. Prenant place au Japon où vit désormais Will Long, dans un temple du Nord de Tokyo, cet événement voyait les élèves situés entre le professeur et le musicien, en fond de salle. Il s’agissait donc d’un live pendant un cours de yoga, l’artiste assistant régulièrement à l’assoupissement et au réveil des yogis.

Akagi a été produit à partir de 2 magnétophones jouant 2 boucles de claviers qui ne cessent de se croiser. L’intervention de l’artiste se faisait alors sur le niveau sonore de ces boucles et quelques paramètres des magnétophones. Le procédé est basique, l’intervention de l’artiste limitée et le résultat reflète parfaitement cet état des choses.
Pendant 1h20, l’auditeur se fait bercer par 2 nappes qui oscillent sans fin, l’une grave que l’on qualifiera de drone (pour simplifier), et l’autre tout simplement de nappe, caractérisée par son aspect aérien et lumineux. Avec ses oscillations perpétuelles mais sur des tempos différents, Akagi est répétitif mais il s’agit d’une répétition que l’on perçoit vaguement, sans pouvoir assurer que la même séquence apparaît deux fois. C’est classique pour ce type de production, mais l’album dégage un sentiment de profond apaisement, de douceur, de calme avec un niveau sonore que l’on trouvera plutôt bas. Par moment l’une des strates semble prendre le dessus, comme une envolée qui retrouvera rapidement son équilibre alors que par endroits on s’approche du silence.

Mais qu’importe ces variations anecdotiques puisqu’elles s’effacent sur la durée. Si vous ne vous êtes pas endormis avant la fin, au bout de ce périple désertique il ne vous restera qu’une impression d’unité, de fluidité et de sérénité.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I provided a remix for Lindstrøm’s “Tensions” 12″ on Smalltown Supersound. You can find it here: https://lindstrom.bandcamp.com/album/tensions

Ecco is a record made for a children’s lecture on dolphins and the sea, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about. One can certainly find those themes in the music if one looks for them: there’s a subaqueous vibe to the sound for sure, its tones muted and dampened as water tends to do; there’s a suggestion of depth and isolation from the familiarity of air, but that’s not quite what I hear.

Ecco isn’t water for me, it’s glass. Rather than imagine a world beneath the surface of the waves, I imagine one from behind the surface of a pane, a physical barrier to the outside and yet one that allows us to continue to look at the events unfolding beyond it. Walls and roofs, they provide shelter and security and are undeniably important, but glass does something just as crucial once we’re inside: it provides a portal to the space outside of our homes and offices, a hole with which to glimpse just a part of the world we have to remind ourselves we’re part of sometimes, traced in yearning drone.

Windows are a place of safety and comfort, chances to watch the world go by for the times when we’re not able or willing to be part of it. When I was younger I used to sit on the windowsill at home on rainy days and watch the sky fall on suburbia, tracing raindrops down the frames and marvel at the water gushing from the gutter. And despite the buffer, one can still feel the force of nature behind it when the wind pummels and the rain drums; you can hold your hand to its cool plane and know the strength beyond it, as one can feel the bass rumbles quake periodically through Ecco’s somnolent core.

The smeared, dreamy synth drones of this record ebb and flow with the same isolated quietude you can feel just watching everything go by, each delicate movement drifting languidly one into the next in a succession of barely experienced events seen with half-opened eyes. One could be forgiven for thinking this record melancholy, but that wouldn’t be fair; blue perhaps, lonely quite possibly, but in the final 5 minutes where the gossamer strands turn to twilight I feel nothing more than a sense of delicate thankfulness for our transparent protector.

Hypnotische Wirkungen aus Loops und modulierter Wiederholung zu ziehen ist nur der vielen Möglichkeiten von Psychedelik. Genauso lassen sich ihre Wirkungen auch aus Wiederholung ohne Wiederholung, also aus einer fraktalen Entwicklung ziehen, von Sounds die im Laufe der Zeit immer selbstähnlich bleiben aber nie gleich. Ein unumstrittener Sensei dieser Disziplin ist Wahljapaner Will Long. Sein kaum noch zu überblickender Output als Celer ist fast durchwegs von einer Art des sich selbst immer wieder annähernden und wieder abstoßenden, umsherchweifenden beinahe-Nichts charakterisiert. So ist auch Another Blue Day (Glistening Examples) typisch Celer, warmer Drone-Ambient. Extrem leise, aber mit Bass.

“Another Blue Day” is a beautiful expression of simple relaxation. A succinct arrangement of gentle, faintly reed-organ-like synthetic tones wash and ebb back and forth with supreme patience, while… that’s it. This release neither provides nor needs anything else.

The straightforward, deeply soporific tone continues for 42 minutes, easily enough to lull all but the most agitated of minds into a relaxed state- or full-on sleep. Sometimes it’s so quiet you begin to suspect you’ve paused it by accident.

It’s split into two parts (“Another Blue Day”, “And Another”) and the second part has an extremely subtle difference in tone that’s barely noticeable- somehow it’s marginally more fragile, with quicker changes in tone a small step in the direction of conventional melody. But save for an interlude of silence that separates the two, you would be hard pushed to tell that the second part has started.

The epic simplicity of “Another Blue Day” if you’re looking for a musical expression of lying in the grass and staring at length up at a cloudless sky. And sometimes that’s all you need.

On Background Curtain (ZOHARUM ZOHAR 129-2), we have a collaboration between Celer and Dirk Serries. Celer, i.e. the American Will Long, is familiar for his minimal ambient music which can be quite beautiful on occasion, and his Inside The Head of Gods was judged by us as a “masterpiece of understatement”. Belgian droner Dirk Serries used to be Vidna Obmama throughout the 1980s, and also recorded as Fear Falls Burning, a project where the weapon of choice was a guitar.

I suppose both players have an interest in long tones, subtle shifts of timbre, and a creative approach which involves much processing work. Processing is certainly the hallmark of Background Curtain. In fact it seems to be the basis for the entire piece. Celer sent a tape to Dirk one fine day in 2012. The time-stretched segment of collaged work was, to its creator, “puzzling and unworkable”. Yet Dirk came through and rallied like a Hessian, and returned something to Celer. At this point the tape-trading story becomes unclear to me, but it seems that Dirk didn’t actually rework the original unworkable tapes, and instead produced something entirely new while he was listening to them. Another year goes by, and Celer (clearly not a man to rush into things) has the brilliant idea of mashing up the new Dirk Serries music with his original source recording. He got to work behind his multi-tasking processor desk. “The musical colour and frequencies were the same,” he assures us, “but the effects and enveloping were triggered by the waves of Dirk’s track”. This feels a little sketchy, but I think I get the general idea, and I can understand why creators would wish to protect their working methods by shrouding them in vagueness and ambiguity.

Two long pieces ended up being pressed on the present CD as a result of this long and drawn-out creative process – ‘Above/Below’ and ‘Below/Above’. The first one is a slow-moving blanket of swaddling ambient sounds where everything sounds processed and unrecognisable, yet not to the point of becoming saccharine goo. On the second piece, it’s just about possible to discern some guitar notes, keening their forlorn cries like slowed-down seagull effects from a Bill Nelson performance. However, there’s no real point in trying to unbake this sonic pie; the point that Celer wishes we would concentrate on is the presence of what he calls the “background curtain”, presumably referring to his original “puzzling and unworkable” source material. I think he’s right to call it a curtain; it’s certainly not rigid enough to be called a spine or backbone. “Even if you can’t hear its place, it’s definitely there,” he assures us. “Maybe you can hear it?” From 23rd November 2017.

La polacca Zoharum produce nell’ottobre dello scorso anno questa collaborazione tra due mostri sacri della musica ambient e dello sperimentalismo quali Dirk Serries e Will Long aka Celer. La storia di questo progetto collaborativo confluito poi in “Background Courtain” comincia nel 2012, quando, dopo alcuni scambi di LP tra i due, Long invia una lunga traccia che riuniva dei pezzi sonori da lui prodotti a Serries, trovandoli inutilizzabili e sperando che l’artista belga riuscisse a ricavarne qualcosa. Tempo dopo, Serries invia a Long una serie di tracce ispirate dall’ascolto di quel nastro, ed usando come base la traccia definita ostica ed inutilizzabile all’inizio, i pezzi di Serries vengono avviluppati ad essa creando appunto questo album formato da due lunghe suite ambient sospese ed impalpabili, soundscapes da altri mondi dalla presenza allungata e riverberata. Disponibile in edizione strettamente limitata a 300 esemplari in digipak a 3 pannelli, con artwork dall’effetto vintage – molto inerente al contenuto sonoro – creato da Rudger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) e basato su una foto dello stesso Will Long.

La costellazione di uscite di Will Thomas Long si arricchisce di due lunghe tracce dai profondi rifessi azzurri. Fedele all’istintiva traduzione in suono di esperienze e sensazioni estemporanee, Long riversa nei quaranta minuti di Another Blue Day limpide memorie bucoliche, materializzando sentori erbacei e lievi carezze di brezza. L’imperturbabilità del quadro è appena velata da nubi di passaggio, in un’osmosi dei signifcati di “blue” che unisce malinconia estatica e purezza ambientale. A quest’ultima sono improntate entrambi i brani, che si snodano con leggerezza attraverso il consueto ventaglio di modulazioni e placide rarefazioni.

Bei einem Dauerproduzenten wie Will Long alias Celer, der keine Pause zu kennen scheint und in den letzten Jahren dutzende Releases herausgehauen hat, bleibt es nicht aus, dass sich der eine oder andere Entwurf als Sackgasse erweist, auf die der eigene kreative Fluss mit einer Blockade reagiert. Manchmal mag der Papierkorb der beste Freund des Schaffenden sein, doch wenn da Gefühl nicht losbekommt, dass in einem scheinbar unbearbeitbaren Fragment doch noch Potenzial steckt, liegen zwei Lösungen nahe: Die eine wäre, etwas Zeit verstreichen zu lassen und ich dem Material später erneut zu nähern, mit er entsprechenden Distanz, die es wie das Werk einer anderen Person erscheinen lässt. Die andere wäre, auf Kollaboration zu setzen und Kollegen mit der Dekonstruktion des Stoffes zu betrauen.

Long hat sich im Entstehungsprozess der hier vorliegenden Aufnahmen für beides entschieden, und so entstand über einen Zeitraum von rund vier Jahren im Austausch mit Dirk Serries (Fear Falls Burning, Vidna Obmana), den er zunächst ohne viel Hoffnung anleierte, doch noch ein ganzes Album, dem man eines schon mal bescheinigen darf: Es wirkt derart homogen und harmonisch, dass man ihm die verquere Vorgeschichte kaum anmerkt.

„Background Curtain“ ist ein sanft dröhnendes und angenehm schwermütiges Ambientalbum geworden, dessen lange und weit ausgreifende Soundscapes auch durch die ungewöhnliche Färbung der Sound an Substanz gewinnt. Gerade in ruhigeren Momenten der gemach an und abschwellenden Klänge blitzt immer mal die (trügerische?) Illusion ortbarer Instrumente auf, eine Schiffssirene, eine Klarinette, das Läuten einer Kirchenglocke oder raue Gitarren. Doch die Klangquellen sind nicht so relevant, erfüllen solche Momente doch vor allem die Funktion, den Hörer nicht vollends der Einlullung preiszugeben. Ist die Aufmerksamkeit erst entsprechend geschärft, dann ist der düstere Untergrund aus atonalem Rauschen und Rumoren immer deutlicher zu hören, ebenso die kleinen exaltierten Synthietupfer, die vereinzelt aus dem melierten Soundgemisch herausspringen.

Beide Musiker haben schon Ereignisreicheres produziert als die beiden ausladenden Tracks, die dem ursprünglichen Material eine jeweils andere Gestalt verpassen. Wer also im Ambien Spannung (oder auch so etwas wie Berieselung) sucht, der soltle sich zuvor die im Netz verfügbaren Auszüge anhören. Bestens bedient werden Freunde der subtilen Regression und alle, die mit Vorliebe Verstecktes aufspüren.

Another Blue Day is like blueberry-flavored ambient bubblegum: thin enough to pop, and light, playful music for the warmer Summer months. Spherical in tone and more than capable of riding on currents of soft, shampooed air, Another Blue Day emerges, fizzes and dissolves like a can of just-opened soda, flooding the body with a refreshing sound while at the same time reflecting nothing but a cloudless azure sky. Taste the feeling!

A pristine afternoon contains a natural beauty, like a girl without her makeup on. Celer‘s light tones are always in flux despite their looping nature, swelling and subsiding with ease. A bass-bruise vibrates on and off, thrumming in and out of soft focus, and this is the only other element beside the stick-thin drone.

Attuned to everything around it, a radiant drone sways the day away; you get the feeling its only aim is to make peace with all things. It lights upon brooks and gardens, pouring through leaves and having a positive impact on the process of photosynthesis. It sweeps over courtyards, streams and dales, lighting up the green shoots of grass – putting its focus upon these things. Existing in a pure state of being, and illuminating everything with a wave of subdued joy, the sparkling music envelops the curving sky with a wash of baby blue. The drone occasionally reaches up higher with a whistling loop-of-a-melody, coming across as slightly drunk on a balmy summer evening. The recurring bass has a responsibility in that it allows the drone to bend without it snapping.

The second piece, “And Another”, has more of a swollen sound, but for all of its inflation it still retains a surprisingly agile physique. The drone twirls and swoons with its slow-motion, gravity-defying gymnastics, utterly unchained as it scoops up the air, draping the atmosphere in sunny Saturday shades.