Label: Murmur Records
Release date: 3/20/13
In the summer we met at the halfway point station between our homes, somewhere still new to me. I had to check the route as I was still unfamiliar with the city, but finding undiscovered experiences inside each place. Through the shop-lined streets and the smoke from bars, we found a small shrine atop a tiny hill surrounded by trees. A highway was wrapped around the bottom of one side, and a steel bridge for the bullet trains reaching over the treetops on the other. A few people were visiting the shrine, but they soon disappeared, letting the silence enter the sanctuary with the soft afternoon breeze. Making our way down the hill beside the bridge, down the river-long stone steps leading to the water’s edge, people ran in the summer air, their voices echoing throughout and across the riverbanks. We finally settled on a spot on the stone stairway, with riverside bushes to our backs, the bridge to our left, and the sunset to the west over and down the river. We brought out our picnic dinner, the plastic containers I had bought just the day before, and picnicked on the shores of the river. Under the orange sunset, cameras on the ground, this memory remaining for that place too, not just us. It stays there in the wind, in the green of the trees, and the swirls of the river, just as it does in our hearts and minds. These places may seem ordinary, but with them we share all experiences.
我々はある夏の日、それぞれの家の中間地点の駅で会った。それは、私にとってはなじみの無い場所だった。私はまだこの街に慣れていなかったので、道順を調べなければならなかったが、それはそれぞれの場所の中にある、未知の体験を見つけることでもあった。店が立ち並ぶストリートや、煙の立ちこめるバーを通り過ぎながら、我々は丘の上に立つ、木々に囲まれた小さな神社を見つけた。片側の下のほうは高速道路で囲まれ、反対側には新幹線が走る鉄橋が木の梢の上に見えた。その神社には何人かの人がいたが、すぐにどこかえ行ってしまった。そして、午後のやわらかな風とともに、その聖域に静かな静寂がやってきた。丘を降りて橋のそばを歩いていくと、川沿いに続く堤防の石段では、水際で夏の空気の中へと駆け込む人々の声が堤防全体に響き渡っていた。我々はやっとのことで、石の階段のところに落ち着ける場所を見つけた。背後には草むらがあって、左手には橋が、向こう岸には、川下へと沈んでいく西日が見えた。我々は準備してきたピクニック・ディナー ー私が前日に買ったばかりのプラスチックの入れ物に入ったものー を取り出して、川岸でピクニックをした。オレンジ色の夕日の下、地面に置かれたカメラ。この記憶は我々だけのためでではなく、あの場所のためにもまた、遺される。風の中に、木々の緑の中に、川の渦の中にとどまる。我々の心の中にとどまるのと同じように。このような場所はありふれたものに見えるかもしれない、でも、我々はこれらの場所によってすべての経験を分かち合う。
#6 Best of 2013: Ambient
Viewpoint is one of the releases which Celer aka Will Long denotes as “a very special album for me, and in many ways the album I’ve wanted to make for a long time.” Assertions like this are valuable, even more so when they are coming from the respective artist of a specific work. Having been released in March 2013 on the Japanese Murmur Records label in a limited edition of 500 copies, I was able to buy the release from Will Long himself after a joint gig he did with Christoph Heemann at the Institut Für Neue Medien in Frankfurt on March 19. For the record: the cute pink flower in the upper right of the front artwork is a sticker, one of Long’s personal touches and generally not part of the artwork itself. Viewpoint was recorded between January and August 2012 and bursts at the seams. It is an album with a runtime of 78+ minutes, divided into 26 different parts complete with track titles, although it is next to impossible to assess where a new section starts and where others end. And one is probably not supposed to know. I am not being lazy here: the various vignettes and segues float into one another, their motifs are resurfacing throughout the duration, then under the guise of a different track title. Viewpoint is about quiescence, tranquility and carefreeness, but on the other hand also about shady moods, opacity and mystique. Everything is rather calm, and as it is the case with Celer’s Lightness And Irresponsibility (2012) already, darker and crestfallen tones become entangled with the arrangement and are at times rounded off by energetic sine bursts; Viewpoint is no streamlined lala-ditty of saccharine New Age moisture, but occasionally shares the characteristic traits of that genre’s pristine purity. Considering the album being recorded over a period of eight months, it is unbelievably cohesive and equilibrated. It is dedicated to Rie Mitsutake aka Miko who also forms the duo of Oh, Yoko with Will Long. Viewpoint is an aural, completely synth-based travelog about a field trip in Japan during summertime with fleeting visits of shrines, the crossing of bridges and the passing of lush forests until the endpoint in the shape of a picnic is reached. This depiction has to do it for the moment. I for one am lured by a specific sentence of Celer’s description which shall mark the end of this opening paragraph, as its meaning condenses the beauty and excitement of his trip and the various stops in the most pregnant and comprehensible way: “I was still unfamiliar with the city, but finding undiscovered experiences inside each place.”
Viewpoint opens with a section called Allegations Of Paradise, and I am not merely mentioning this title due to its state as the album’s kick-off, but because of the wonderful title itself, containing traces of Exotica and yearning as well as a pinch of doubt. Will Long starts the album with a quieter yet glaringly translucent synth scheme of the ethereal kind. Gently oscillating layers ebb and flow, rise and fall, always retaining their infinitesimally glacial grace which is then intertwined with breezes of loftiness, a condition that can be lessened at louder volume levels which unravel surprisingly feisty bass drones. Melodies do exist, but only in the form of half-tone sequences and sound surfaces rather then fully carved out strains of distinction. Speaking of distinction: only Celer knows the exact duration of the first sub-track, as the textures do not change over the course of Viewpoint’s runtime. My description hence targets many additional segments or counterfoils, possibly even accidentally so. Around the seven-minute mark, Viewpoint encounters a fair share of ecclesiasticism. Pipe organs are nowhere near the soundscape, but the tonality and atmosphere resemble a cordial solemnity that is almost imperceptibly interwoven into the endemic layers – a nod at the shrine which is visited during the trip?
After approximately eleven minutes, the bass layers return in tandem with both genteel and rather protuberant sine tone-resembling synth washes, and it is here, due to their cavalcade of glitters, that I first notice the overarching motif of entanglement between the layers: they cover any traces of nullity at all costs. Thanks to their constant undulation, the feeling of a pitch-black nothingness or a murky backdrop never occurs. The towering sine tones also elucidate the omission of haze, mist or fog. Sometimes a layer or two seem to be more aqueous and blurry than usual as they unfold in the deeper regions in-between the circumambience. Regardless of this specific complexion, every synth and tone remains crystalline, iridescent and coruscating, awash with light while scattering and distributing the luminosity themselves. It is around the mark of 22 minutes that Celer revs up the synths and offers wondrously shimmering textures full of plasticity and profundity. The listener, however, is never completely swallowed or encapsulated in an ecstatic incandescence, as Will Long stabilizes the surrounding layers which, instead of being foils or boosting devices, now show the inclination of counterbalancing the atmosphere with their calcine appearance and hatched pastel color range. Incidental slivers of gloom blend with the celestial state; maintained for several minutes, Viewpoint drifts into more enigmatic and reciprocating realms while keeping its textures intact. This vignette ends with incisive sine shards…
… which immediately make room for the soporific superimposition of benignancy and wraithlike reclusion that continues to dominate around the mark of 27 minutes, but is countered by diffuser synth apparitions which for the first time unchain a decidedly large amount of cryptic tension. Again, these impressions are only snapshots! Once the listener is contingently bewildered, the pendulum moves into a different direction, dilutes the pressure of the grey-tinted accentuations and complements them with milder undercurrents. This ongoing flow of disparity and inequality floats along for almost 15 minutes, injecting the same reappearing infusion of acroamatic synth washes and stern cascades of twilight. 40 minutes in, and Viewpoint returns to its vitreous morphogenesis made of ecclesial vesicles, a spellbinding coziness and various sumptuous vacillations, the latter of which are as shape-shifting and ever-changing as the destinations of Mitsutake’s and Long’s field trip. Wonder and peacefulness remain the superior forces from this point onwards, and Celer makes sure to submit synth showers of the meandering kinds, accompanied but not perturbed by frisky sine tones. Around the 58-minute mark, the tonal range even resembles the Robert Fripp-involving Ambient classic FFWD (1994); both Celer and FFWD never succumb to conclusive portrayals of happiness, not even when a beautiful summer day in Japan is the represented topic, but intermix shadier fractals with vivacious fractions. Perhaps consequentially, Viewpoint comes up with a fair amount of indistinct counterpointing runlets after 74 minutes, but thankfully closes in utter harmony, reduced and reserved as expected and with quieter tones, yet chock-full of seraphic streams. The final, utterly astute track title? Everything Rotates.
As with all of Celer’s albums he marks as eminently special, such as I, Anatomy (2012) and now Viewpoint, the listener faces two tendencies, each of them intriguing in their own right: for one, he or she who listens mindfully with an observant ear will eventually be lost in the attempts to decipher, decrypt and dissect the implicit reasons for each vignette’s existence. Will Long deliberately camouflages the truthful truth of the various sections despite his openness and explanatory markers such as track titles and accompanying texts, both of which curiously enough lead to the second tendency the listener encounters during the listening session, namely that of a genuine interest which will not die down regardless of the impossibility to determine or pinpoint Celer’s transparency. This crepuscular state allows and actually nurtures a less serious listening habit: it is comforting enough for a listener, I presume, to know for sure that Viewpoint is embedded in an important context, that it is an aural travelog with outlooks over treetops or riverbanks and short yet contemplative breaks at shrines and bridges which lead to the picnic in a perfectly normal field on a lovely summer’s day that slowly turns to dusk. One cannot possibly distill any of these (arti)facts in the soundscape itself, hence the – optional! – importance of the side notes and texts Will Long delivers. It is therefore possible to enjoy Viewpoint as background music, as pernicious the implications of this term may seem; it is a 78+ minutes long composition that gyrates around sunlit places, shadier locations and downright spine-tingling aortas. The stringency of the textures turns out to be an important boon in this regard, it allows a positively tranquilizing and mollifying zone out state and a deeper inspection of the balancing of sine tones, elysian gusts and scintillating New Age flecks. An important album for Celer and an enjoyable if equally dichotomous journey for the listener.
I’m not sure where to begin with this, but it’s likely best that I write as little about it as possible. Some of what I write is speculation or perhaps flawed interpretation, but it doesn’t really matter since music listening and appreciation is often subjective.
Will Long’s (Celer’s) new album Viewpoint is simply gorgeous.
I have listened to Viewpoint while walking, reading, on the edge of sleep, awakening in rays of sunshine and listening as I am now on (what I consider to be) proper audio equipment, with sound filling my listening room. There’s a commentary within the CD cover, and it’s a narrative of (as I see it) the beginnings of a love story, moments in time and place, captured and held in the collective memory of the two who shared it–the connections in words and sound. It took me a few attempts to remain focused for the entirety of the album, but after re-reading the story and dreaming along with the music I was hooked, deeply. There are moments when Viewpoint weaves and peregrinates throughout its twenty-six nearly invisible sections, and at times there are some darker moments (life’s unexpected times) and pleasant daydreams, but eventually it all becomes clear and things interlock and harmony prevails, as tightly as the paving stones that decorate the inner sleeve of the bi-folding CD jacket.
Hold fast to the memories, don’t let them go…
One 78 minute track. Why me, Lord, why me? I’ve covered a few discs by this space cadet Will Long, but they tend to be cut up into more manageable pieces. This particular project claims “one track with 26 movements,” but there’s no indication of where one begins or ends, and what changes in this composition changes slowly and subtly, and I can’t hear it. Acoustically, there are no notes or percussive elements that occur with any regularity. Rather, it’s like rubbing your finger on a really nice wine glass as someone drinks the wine with a soda straw.
The movement titles are properly cryptic. “Filled with Glyphs and Numerals” is a good title, as are “Sleeplessness and Pallor” or “Suite of Unnatural Melodies.” But could I point them out? Could you listen to one or the other and declare “Oh, yeah, I love that 325 hertz passage in ‘Flame Fanning’!” I think not. This is electronic ambiance suitable as a background loop in a modern art museum, a soundtrack to some sort of scientific animation, or something to soothe the baby.
La musique de Celer (Will Long) est toujours très paisible. Viewpoint est un morceau de 76 minutes divisé en 26 parties enchaînées (et présentées en une seule piste sur le CD). Électronique ambiante qui établit une atmosphère puis cherche presque à disparaître, régulière sans devenir monotone, avec juste assez de changement pour accompagner l’auditeur. On frôle la béatitude; pourtant tout cela tient à bien peu de choses. L’album le plus abouti de Celer à ce jour.
Celer’s music is always very calm. Viewpoint is a 76-minute piece in 26 segued parts (and presented as a single track on the CD). Ambient electronic music that sets a mood than tries to disappear behind it. Steady without getting boring, with just enough change to accompany the listener. It gets very close to bliss, yet it consists of very little. This is Celer’s most accomplished record to date.