Archive for November, 2010

Traces of a unique local vocabulary: A metropolis of pure sound.

The oeuvres of Yui Onodera and Celer have served as powerful reminders that music is, at heart, a wordless communication tool. While Onodera set architectural patterns and sociological ponderings to sound in a string of minutely planned works, the former’s discography typically dealt with themes manifesting themselves outside the grasp of rational analysis: Resembling haikus in their pointed precision and brevity, Baquet-Long’s associative lyrical introductions acted as portals into epic worlds where sound, space, time and resonance penetrated the true nature of emotion more accurately than any four-minute pop-song ever could. Of course, on both accounts, these statements were ultimately of a personal nature, a sonic transcription of inner perspectives. And yet, as their first collaboration, initiated as early as 2007, took shape, it quickly became apparent that its implications were far more universal and incisive than any of their solo records. Quite clearly, there was a place where the poetic and the political met – and Generic City made it its point of departure.

The openly conceptual aspects of their interaction only became apparent at a later stage, however – unsurprisingly for artists so deeply engaged with the pure, unmediated beauty of sound, questions of philosophy were relegated to second tier. On the face of it, therefore, there is no need whatsoever to treat Generic City as anything other than a languid and deep trip of sweetly scented atmospherics: Bracketed by an episode of nerve-wrecking bird song (cranes? wild geese?) and a tender music box finale, opener „An imaginary tale of lost vernacular“ is essentially a single, drawn-out drone all but imperceptibly changing in frequential richness and pulsation over the course of its sixteen-minute duration, with a delicate film of metallic chiming adding an ethereal halo. The way that some of the pieces are composed of various shorter episodes – especially so in the two somewhat more brief cuts „Waiting until something else happens“ and „The street of a rainy, gray day“, which, despite their more fragmented character, form a cohesive interrelated middle section – is also decidedly reminiscent of previous Celer-albums like „Engaged Touches“, which combined an epic outlook with an intuitive and scenic approach.

To the artists, meanwhile, the real importance of their collaboration lay precisely in its extra-musical dimensions. For Onodera, on the one hand, working with Celer allowed him a long-sought-for unpremeditated perspective on his Japanese identity. Already his 2007-release „Suisei“, which prominently featured on-site recordings of his hometown Tokyo, was an effort of sculpting a metaphorical landscape intricately intertwined with physical reality. And yet, even though its immersive introspection awarded it a hands-on quality, it was bound to remain an acoustic mirror of mainly emotional factors, a subjective analysis. On Generic City, this perceptional imbalance is offset by the process of sharing source materials in a bid of expressing global aspects of society through sound. For Long and Baquet-Long, vice versa, Onodera’s concretisation of their self-admittedly rather „vague“ notions at the outset awarded the final result a new kind of striking urgency and deliberation. Two, partially paradoxical, themes are serving as Leitmotifs in this respect: On the one hand, the levelling-out of local identities in favour of a water-downed cultural consensus. And, on the other, the idea of cities representing chaotic cosmoses, in which, underneath a blanket of supposed order, a plethora of individual events suggest the existence of a still free and liberated micro-cosmos. The latter is apparent through the multitude of different episodes the album is moving through: There are sounds from Winter and sounds of Summer, loud and aggressive episodes and almost inaudible sequences, noises of nature and of man as well as the delicate textures of breaking ice. None of the artists involved is afraid of cutting off some of the most placid and contemplative inventions right at the moment of their most heartfelt intensity: In one particularly striking passage, an at first fragile oscillation of the same chord alternately played in a minor and major key turns into what could well be a frenzied outburst of ragged guitar riffing.

As Onodera has pointed out, the way these seemingly diametrically opposed elements were made to correspond with each other was in fact inspired by the very ability of cities to merge and reconcile the most blatant contradictions. Despite its critical stance towards urban trends, Generic City is, after all, very much the product of three city dwellers putting their ultimate fantasy into practise: Creating a metropolis of pure sound. You can literally spend hours inside its thoroughfares and side-alleys, on its avenues and squares, in its parks and buildings. The utopia lies in the idea that, in such an imaginary space, sonic events will eventually detach themselves from their worldy limitations and start interacting according to the inner logic of their timbres alone. And so it seems perfectly natural that, on brooding and mysterious closer „A renewed awareness of home“, the massive reverberations of a huge gong are merging seamlessly into a Buddhist prayer chant filled with natural harmonics, which, in the end, gloriously coalesce into a glowing sheet of texture. „The street of a rainy, gray day“, meanwhile, includes a three-minute-sequence composed exclusively of field recordings, gradually segueing from a bustling city scene to the artificial calm of an airport and planes thunderously panning from left to right.

Nothing here is left to chance, even the most seemingly random snippet of sound having been selected with a very particular reason and compositional function in mind. Accordingly, the album is never just a trivial tirade against the side-effects of globalisation, but always a stab at an alternative as well. If Onodera is right, it is through listening closely to our immediate surroundings that we are still able to glean the traces of a unique local vocabulary. It is never fully spelled out on Generic City, but one can’t hold that against it: What really defines our sense of home and belonging can simply not be put into words.

By Tobias Fischer


A partir de que escuché Dying Star me vino a la cabeza la obsesión de conseguir la discografía completa de Celer, el proyecto en el que ahora participa únicamente Will Long. Ya conseguí varios discos, pero Celer es sumamente activo y por mes está lanzando tres e incluso cuatro producciones.

En Hell Detoured, ubicada cronológicamente detrás del grandioso Dying Star tenemos, como dice la misma descripción en la web de rural colours un loop que se repite incesantemente durante diecinueve minutos. Platicando con un amigo sobre el track, me pude dar cuenta que efectivamente no se siente la repetición por lo relajante del soundscape. Este Ambient me cae muy bien a propósito de una semana tan ajetreada en la cual sólo deseo escuchar música que apacigue mis nervios.

Hell Detoured quizás no sea el nombre más acertado para un disco que transmite un delicioso Ambient. El tiempo parece detenerse cuando lo reproduzco y sin dudas me deja una sensación de volver a reproducirlo.

El track se puede escuchar completo en el sitio del sello, así como comprar por una módica cantidad. Aprovechen y apoyen la buena música.


5-38-3 Sendagi Bunkyou-ku Tokyo, Japan

KualaukTable at 養源寺 vol.01
時間:16:00 open / start 19:00
出演:Opitope / Celer / Corey Fuller

Cuatro Jugones
2010.11.27 (Sat) @ loop-line (
Yui Onodera+Celer+Junji Koyanagi(映像) / Will Long (Celer)
naph / Tomoyasu Takanishi (a.k.a. FLOWER TRIANGLE) / ono osamu

77 Color Symphony Presents:


-first symphony-
Celer Japan Tour Special

AMPcafe Koenji


1000yen+1 drink order
18:30 open 19:00 start

Yui Onodera + Celer

Hiroki Sasajima


and special session.


メール予約 exportion77(at) お名前と人数をご連絡下さい。

2010年11月23日(祝) at Super-Deluxe (web)
OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00
adv. 3,000yen /door. 3,500yen (+ 1drink)
Live :
Machinefabriek / Liondialer (Greg Haines & Danny Saul) / Wink (Kleefstra|Bakker|Kleefstra) /
Yui Onodera + Celer + Yuki Izumi (Visual)

The first release on the label recently launched by Celer’s Will Long couldn’t have been better, including the wonderful cover photos by his late wife Dani, who participated in the recordings and to whom the record is dedicated, just like everything else Will does. I won’t be tedious in listing the sources utilized in this magnificent piece of music, although they’re almost entirely indicated in the press blurb. Some are immediately comprehensible, others are revealed with the passage of time and come out little by little, either as mild surprises or more shocking appearances – but never, ever in less than touching fashion. The remaining colours mesh in heartrending blurs of drones and aural rainbows. I’ll say this: Generic City – rarely a title thus distant from truth is found – is a work from which the masses of imitators should learn; not by taking its ideas and concepts and reproducing them as third-hand copies, but deciding once and for all to give up presumptuous dilettantism, retreat in silence and let the masters of the game perform their job.

Stillness is where this luminescent album is coming from, in spite of the fact that not a single second of emptiness appears throughout. The motionlessness we’re referring to is related to the total awareness of something that can’t possibly put into writing, perhaps experienced while looking at a valley at sunset, or walking on a shore by yourself or with a loved one, surrounded only by the wind and the sea wash. Or maybe to the realization that a man is alone, but is not alone. You can pretend enlightenment and declare of being someone who’s following “paths”, to the point of choosing a person as a spiritual guide and believe you’re doing the right thing. However, a beautiful, indescribable sound appearing from nowhere is the lone moment in which that connection with the unknown really happens, and there’s no way to fake this sensation by masking it through futile words or dramatic acting: legitimately vibrating beings are going to expose your lie. If the instruments to decode that manifestation are not present from the beginning, then it’s a flat kind of existence that those individuals are facing.

These four tracks are intense, delicate and useful for self-collection, becoming a necessary company after mere moments. Onodera and Celer managed to engender a true masterpiece which needs no stupid classification. To quote Long, “there is no replacement for the smell of a book, the spin of a CD player starting, or the consistently changing nature of our memories”.


Just released in October, “Generic City” is a first album collaborated with Yui Onodera, who works on sound designs in Japan and overseas, and Celer, who makes a number of ambient and experimental music based in California. Their first album explores to create an “urban landscape” blending with field recorded sounds in each city. Celebrating their first collaboration, Yui Onodera & Celer will perform lives in Japan, as it will be Celer’s first visit Japan. SHIFT interviewed them who revealed each of their activity and the collaboration.

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Вместе с перелетными птицами, с гомона которых начинается «Generic City», слушателям предстоит совершить путешествие, для которого, впрочем, совершенно не нужны визы и загранпаспорта. Наушники, скорее всего, тоже не понадобятся – музыка «Celer» давно уже раскрыла свой главный секрет. В наушниках традиционный для американского дуэта эмбиент может показаться немного резким и даже местами режущим слух, т.к. часто в нем преобладают довольно высокие частоты. Но если отпустить музыку «на волю», дать ей заполнить помещение без остатка, смешаться с его атмосферой, то тогда эффект будет просто поразительным, проверено опытным путем, в том числе и в данном конкретном случае.

В путешествия, как известно, лучше отправляется в компании, чтобы не было скучно. Американскому дуэту компанию составил японец Юи Онодера, чьи музыкальные идеи оказались идеально совместимыми с идеями Дэниель и Уильяма Лонгов. В багаже у музыкантов типовой набор, с помощью которого они создают свои произведения – это звуки гитар, скрипок, пианино, музыкальной шкатулки, лязг и шуршания стальных листов и прочего подручного хлама, а также программное оборудование, при помощи которого все различия между этими инструментами и предметами стираются, а сами звуки трансформируются в так называемый «soft minimal drone ambient», при помощи которого можно отправиться в странствие по внутреннему миру снов и фантазий, но мы ведь говорим о путешествии по вполне «земным» местам, верно? Верно, и на помощь авторам приходят многочисленные полевые записи, сделанные ими в разных уголках мира. Те самые тревожные крики куда-то спешащих по древнему зову птиц в самом начале соседствуют с хрустом льда, грохотом дождя по железной крыше и бурлением вод, затем на фоне вибрирующего, постоянно принимающего новые формы и объемы гула поочередно возникают звуки шуршащей листвы под ногами, отмеряющие проделанный путь до центра города с его уличным хаосом. Грохот подземки Лос-Анджелеса перетекает в шум Токийского аэропорта – беспокойные толпы людей перемещаются туда-сюда, следуя командам, передаваемым по громкой связи. В свое время «Celer» привезли много записей из Азиатских стран, и в «Generic City» крики уличных торговок Бангкока сменяются храмовыми песнопениями во славу Будды, чтобы растворится в самом финале в потоке теплого звука, несущего Вселенский покой и символизирующего окончание пути, возврат к тому первоисточнику, к которому мы неосознанно стремимся всю жизнь и в путешествия отправляемся, может быть, только для того, чтобы найти его и воссоединится с ним. Этот великолепный альбом воссоздает атмосферу городов и стран, которые слушатели могут никогда не увидеть воочию, но, благодаря стараниям музыкантов, способны представить их, включив свое воображение, понять, какой большой и таинственный мир нас окружает. «Generic City», гармоничный, идеально сбалансированный, наполненный неторопливыми сменами настроения и имеющий терпкий привкус экзотики диск заслуженно получает статус «претендент на звание лучшего альбома года».

Rough translation:

Together with birds of passage with which hubbub begins ” Generic City “, listeners should make travel for which visas and passports, however, are absolutely not necessary. Headphones, most likely, too will not be necessary – music “Celer” for a long time has already opened the main secret. In headphones traditional for the American duet эмбиент can seem little bit sharp and even places cutting hearing since it is frequent in it high enough frequencies prevail. But if to release music ” on will “, to allow it to fill a premise without the rest, to mix up with its atmosphere then the effect will be simply amazing, it is checked up by practical consideration, including in the given concrete case.

In travel, as is known, sends to the companies that it was not boring is better. To the American duet the company was made by Japanese Yui Onodera, whose musical ideas have appeared ideally compatible to ideas Дэниель and William Longov. In luggage at musicians a typical set by means of which they create the products are sounds of guitars, скрипок, the piano, a musical casket, a clang and rustling of steel sheets and other improvised stuff, and also the program equipment by means of which all distinctions between these tools and subjects are erased, and sounds are transformed in so-called ” soft minimal drone ambient ” by means of which it is possible to go to wandering on a private world of dreams and imaginations, but we in fact speak about travel in quite “terrestrial” places, truly? Truly, and to the aid of authors the numerous field records made by them in different corners of the world come. Those disturbing shouts somewhere birds hastening on ancient call right at the beginning adjoin to a crunch of an ice, a roar of a rain on an iron roof and бурлением waters, then on a background vibrating, constantly accepting new forms and volumes of a rumble serially there are sounds of rustling foliage under the legs, measuring the done way up to city centre with its street chaos. The roar of a underground of Los Angeles flows in noise of the Tokyo airport – restless crowds of people move there-here, following the commands transferred on loud communication. In due time “Celer” have brought many records from the Asian countries, and in ” Generic City ” shouts street торговок Bangkok are replaced by temple church chanting in glory of the Buddha that it will be dissolved in the ending in a stream of the warm sound bearing Universal rest and symbolizing the termination of a way, return to that primary source to which we неосознанно aspire all life and in travel we are sent to find only, maybe, it and will reunite with it. This magnificent album recreates an atmosphere of cities and the countries, which listeners can see never personally, but, owing to diligence of musicians, are capable to present them, having included the imagination to understand, what big and mysterious world surrounds us. ” Generic City “, harmonious, ideally balanced, filled by slow changes of mood and having tart smack of exotic the disk deservedly receives the status ” the applicant for a rank of the best album of year “.