Archive for February, 2012

Some releases are as much art objects as recordings, a perfect example being this beautiful seven-inch affair from Will Long (aka Celer) and Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek), which is worth purchasing on grounds of presentation alone. Long obtained the artwork for the project in a nostalgia shop in Jimbocho, Tokyo, after which, in true collaborative spirit, Zuydervelt designed the sleeve. Adding to the release’s allure, the hand-numbered edition of 250 comes with a download that includes two videos by Marco Douma. How did the release come about? After performing together in Tokyo in November 2010, the two began a long-distance file exchange last fall (between Tokyo and Rotterdam) that drew upon hours of material and resulted in the two tracks issued.

The A-side’s “Maastunnel” (the tunnel that connects the banks of the Nieuwe Maas in Rotterdam) achieves a lovely balance between musical elements and field recordings in augmenting softly whistling waves of shimmering, Celer-like serenity with sounds of water gently lapping ashore, faint traffic noise, and assorted creaks and industrial noise. The result is a masterfully controlled meditation that leaves a strong impression, no matter its brevity. The sense of wonderment carries over to “Mt. Mitake” (a mountain to the west of Tokyo), where glassy tones chime softly and induce a state of calm in the listener. Some degree of turbulence emerges halfway through, however, and the whole thing begins to feel as if it’s being smothered by a dark, suffocating cloud of dust and grime.

Their respective personae are so well established—not counting the collaboration, Discogs lists (at the time of this writing) sixty-nine by Celer and ninety-nine by Machinefabriek—that it comes as a bit of a shock to discover they’d not collaborated prior to this release. Regardless, though the single’s two pieces weigh in at slightly less than ten minutes, they’re an exquisite pair nonetheless, and certainly suggest that some further, more extensive collaboration wouldn’t be unwelcome.


Our Phil tends to review most of the Celer records we get in because he can’t get enough of the drifty stuff, but this week he’s decided that for the purpose of balance someone else should have a go. Two other people, in fact, since this isn’t the only Celer release this week, so I guess there’ll be another one coming soon from Brian or the Business Lady. If nothing else, you certainly have to admire Mr Long’s workrate. Also, these kinds of records are notoriously difficult to review because despite the great beauty on display, it’s a beauty of a fairly constant and unchanging kind. On this LP, the source material is limited to improvised synths and field recordings, and what we’re left with are glassy, shimmering swells of concordant high and mid end drone that twinkle and murmur and ease in and out, teasing you into a healing state of calm. That’s what happens on this record and there’s not much else to say about it except it’s right up there with Celer’s finest work and super limited (as usual) and comes with a download and chances are you knew you’d like it before you started reading this review anyway.


Большинство ранних релизов «Celer» выходило в виде «приватных изданий» – музыканты записывали «болванки» маленьким тиражом, вручную оформляли их, напыляя по трафарету краску на накатку и картонные обложки, короче, творили по всем канонам D.I.Y. Позднее оказалось, что интерес к музыке дуэта уже не ограничивается домашними заготовками, слушатели, собравшие за последние годы солидную коллекцию из дисков, кассет и пластинок «Celer», захотели узнать, что же было записано на тех, первых, явно не предназначенных для широкой аудитории дисках. «Sunlir» увидел свет в 2006 году, по сей день доступен цифровой релиз, который можно найти в сети. Так что может возникнуть вопрос, почему именно за этот материал «зацепился» испанский лейбл «CONV», хотя, конечно, этот вопрос сейчас так и останется без ответа. Да и в любом случае – спасибо.

«Sunlir» каноничен для творчества американской пары периода «середины нулевых», когда Уильям и Дэниель Лонг использовали для создания  произведений простой прием, оттачивая его раз за разом и, в конце концов, возведя многие, полученные таким образом вещи, на уровень шедевров цифрового минимализма. Прием прост – режутся короткие сэмплы из звуков пианино, трубы, гитары, скрипки, или, как в данном случае, оркестровых партий, затем они закольцовываются и максимально замедляются. Из этого аморфного, порой бесформенного и часто нервозно гудящего от всех совершенных манипуляций материала авторы собирают свои сновидческие зарисовки, в которых на протяжении долгого времени все словно замирает на одном месте, оставляя слушателя наедине с долгим эхом. При этом посреди статических полей и наплывающих со всех сторон прозрачных, слабо колышущихся звуковых волн, тонких вибраций, легкой дрожи потревоженной тишины все время что-то движется, не останавливаясь ни на секунду. Так передать «неподвижное движение», наверное, могут только «Celer». У них получается настоящий эмбиент, тот самый фон, на который можно не обращать внимания, но который существует здесь и сейчас наравне с вами. Простота формы и содержания, открывающая новые границы хрупкого звукового мира.


“Since 2005, Celer, the duo of the late Danielle Marie Baquet and William Thomas Long, have released a wealth of ambient material and established themselves as one of the preeminent and best loved outfits in the genre. For the uninitiated, Celer’s aesthetic is glacial, beautiful and devotional. It is utterly devoid of hard edges and culled from a wealth of exotic and traditional instrumentation. The pair’s inimitable sound is the result of careful attention to processing and a keen, quasi-cinematic ear for arrangement and juxtaposition. The source material for the recordings on Evaporate and Wonder was limited to improvised synthesizers and field recordings, but the end results are predictably grand and mysterious, suitable indeed for the promises of the album’s title. Comprised of two sidelong pieces, this record is a perfect entry point into the pair’s wonderful oeuvre or, if you’re like me, a more than welcome audio pictogram that lets us as listeners continue the journey.” – Alex Cobb

It is available now directly from Experimedia, here:

It takes just a few words to explicit our impressions in front of Levitation And Breaking Points, re-released by Dale Lloyd’s And/OAR two years after the original triple 3-inch edition. Describing the mere exteroception – as always in corresponding circumstances – is an intention that ultimately results in the typical fatuousness attached to any similar attempt when one listens to uncrystallized masses of sound rich in shifts of imaginary harmonies and ethereal chromaticity. Perhaps we could do better referring to “presence” and “absence”, for these two opposites lie – here more than anywhere else in Celer’s recorded output – at the basis of the pervading sense of noetic improvement and corporeal liquefaction perceived during the protraction of the experience (needless to say, this disc is a natural nominee for the “infinite repeat” mode). The richness of psychological phenomenologies remains the most valid point of discussion for this type of outing; both Will and Dani Long worked in the ambit of music therapy, so they were probably able to predict certain effects on a listener’s involuntary cognition since the beginning. What the miserable reviewer must do in such a circumstance is, once again, stressing the need of separating who operates in this area with a background of genuine education and sentience from those who join the bandwagon without having a clue about the grandness of these issues. Celer were in search of truths while in exploration, and this record shows their absolute commitment to orbiting towards spheres that – hypothetically – any individual gifted with serious inner means and a modicum of volition can reach. Especially by remaining silent.


“Tightrope was created in 2010. That November I visited Tokyo to tour with Yui Onodera to promote our Generic City album. On the last Saturday of the tour, I took part in a collaboration performance at a temple in Tokyo with Opitope and Corey Fuller, where I played some of the source pieces used in Tightrope. It was unfinished, but when I returned to my home it was completed in a short time. One month later, on December 31st 2010, I moved to Tokyo.

Though presented as one continuous track without breaks, Tightrope is a collage of 24 separately titled pieces. Layer upon layer, they were mixed on top

                                             on top

on    top

on       top

on top  on                            top

       on         top                              on           top

on                                       top                                   on top

on top                                              on top on                       top

   on   top 

on top of each other, and given a single place.

It has many different instruments and sound sources. Piano, television, synthesizers, fire crackling in the fireplace, whistling, pipe organ, eating ice, acoustic guitar, laptop, an afternoon conversation, a medicine drip buzzer, car noise, my ringtone, contact mic and many others I can’t remember. At the time, it never occurred to me to keep track of these things. In the end, they’re all collected, unplanned memories.” – Will Long, Tokyo, January 2012

Design by mondii, published in an edition of 500 copies. For my Father.

Available now from Low Point


“What’d he look like?”
“I don’t know. He didn’t lift his head up. He could’ve been… just anybody.”

A disembodied voice, a tape snippet, inquires, on Maastunnel, the A Side to this auspicious pairing of these two giants of drone. ‘Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake’ came about after Machinefabriek & Celer played a show together in Tokyo in 2010, and was released to coincide with an upcoming European tour, so we will most likely hear more from these combined heads.

Both Machinefabriek & Celer are hyper-prolific, nigh-on legendary in the ambient/drone/field recordings microcosm, so what happens when they get together? That’s why i started with that quote, it is a fine example of the egolessness of both artist’s work, an almost slavish devotion to the ‘sound’, the ‘work’. Tasteful in the extreme, you can hear the individual spirit of each, the squeaky field recordings that are Machinefabriek’s hallmark, the drifting, cloud-like melodies Celer is known for. The overall effect achieved, is a sonic world, an auditory hallucination, with Machinefabriek creating the space for Celer to score, events unfolding, humans interacting with the inanimate.

‘Maastunnel’ is the more pastoral of the two, which is funny as its named after a tunnel, but its tinkling, splashing water give a sense of the outdoors. ‘Mt. Mitake’, named after the mountain to the west of Tokyo, is a more sci-fi affair, think Vangelis, think Klaus Schulze – dreamy, futuristic, floating. The pair make for more colorful drones and inner-visions than the monochromatic blur often found in the more industrial cadre of this style.

‘Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake’ is an exercise in restraint, in good taste. They show respect for one another, the music, and the listener. The whole shebang clocks in at a scant ten-minutes, which means you will spend a lot of time hitting play, or flipping over this little gem. Poring over its intricacies. Makes for pleasant company in the morning, if you want to keep that dreamy vibe going. I’m looking forward to hearing more from these two.


Turkey Decoy is very much a portrayal of sound as an organic and largely independent entity, as though Danielle Baquet-Long need merely guide it in a general direction and watch the intricacies take place on their own accord. Sound is as water, with changes in dynamic and harmony rippling outward; grand movements blossoming and gathering momentum from the tiniest drop of kinetic energy applied to the centre.

A vast majority of the texture here arrives in complete detachment from its source. A quick glance at Baquet-Long’s instrument list reveals that guitar, voice and theremin feature somewhere in amongst the murk, although identifying any of them is a very difficult task (save for the distant choral cries of “Sushi on a Hot Day”, perhaps). The core of each of these tracks comprises of “tones”; devoid of jagged edges or attack, smothered and shaped into smooth jets by the reverb that blurs the small details. Turkey Decoy is about sound in mass – no texture works in isolation, and acts as both a consequence and a cause of the progression of other textures in close proximity.

The album is also littered with the likes of singing bowls, pianos and chimes, which appear to straddle ambient waves without ever sinking within. There’s something eerie about the presence of something so defined and familiar resting within the obscurity, but even as the steady rustle of tambourine applies a feeble “tempo” to the 10 minutes of “Rattling Mandibles”, there’s never any sense of a human player triggering these instruments. Something about the Turkey Decoy’s organic flow conjures a landscape that is devoid of human life, with the strength of the album’s ambient current providing the necessary force to brush chimes together and set piano hammers into motion.


The prolific Celer (Will Long) & Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) join forces for this cheeky ambient 7” release – created in celebration of their tour of the Netherlands and Belgium across March 2012.

Swapping numerous files between their respective home towns of Tokyo and Rotterdam the two have drawn on local geography and field recordings for inspiration here. Even the cover art is a combination of artwork found in a Tokyo nostalgia shop by Will Long and the design skills of Rutger.

‘Maastunnel’ on side A is named after the tunnel that connects the banks of the Nieuwe Maas in Rotterdam and was constructed during World War II. It apparently serves almost 75,000 vehicles daily although little hint of this commotion is found within the track itself as haunting reverb heavy melodies and water sounds introduce us to the piece. Squeaks and flutters surround a further Burial style melody – it feels like night time on the river until a quiet vocal sample cuts the music abruptly and we enter the Maastunnel accompanied by the creaking hums of its old wooden escalators.

On the flip ‘Mt. Mitake’ is named after a mountain to the west of Tokyo which Will Long climbed the day between finding the vinyl artwork and finishing the track. A pretty shimmering motif threads the piece together whilst menacing metallic drones advance then retreat in the mix. It’s all ever so slightly unnerving and makes me wonder if Mt. Mitake hides a dark secret and isn’t just an attractive hiking opportunity for Tokyo weekender’s.

Evocative and haunting pieces of collaborative work. We’d like to hear more please.


Now based in Tokyo, where the source material for this album was first aired during a performance in a temple, Will Long has made Tightrope one of his finest pieces of music to date. Presented as one epic collage clocking in at over an hour long, Tightrope is in fact made up of 24 separate sections that have been layered ad infinitum in order to create a work of silky serenity that floats and flows majestically.

The sources are myriad, ranging from ringtones to the crackle of a log fire, but they are manipulated in such a way as to blend seamlessly into one another as one extended, gently ebbing wave. Long himself claims to be able to pick apart and identify individual elements still but to the casual listener Tightrope will more likely present itself as an extended exercise in meditative contemplation.

There isn’t a great deal of obvious darkness present, save, perhaps, the subtly throbbing undertones around the twenty-and thirty-minute marks. Instead Tightrope concentrates on lighter textures and becoming, through repetition and the sense of nebulous familiarity it breeds, a kind of musical palimpsest where sounds are layered and brushed away, layered and brushed away until what remains is a scarcely decipherable patchwork of elements that only give up their secrets in brief, prismatic flashes.

There are moments of crumble and collapse – occasions where the music will fall back to rest on a tone whose presence is everlasting but rarely felt – and this allows Long to build again. Even still, the general ambience never strays too far from where it began and the pace has a kind of slow-motion stateliness to it that lulls and soothes without ever losing focus.

Will Long spoke about Tightrope almost as though it was an act of throwaway flippancy, remarking that at first it was a simple matter of making, mixing and moving on. It was only afterwards that he began to realise the music’s importance as a series of “collected, unplanned memories… things I can hear and relate to”. For the listener without these cues it’s more likely this music will function as a means of discreetly exposing an emotional core; provoking memories of times and places hitherto unlinked to the music but which resonate at a cerebral depth only the music can access. It’s a powerful and sometimes perilous technique that this artist is consistently adept at and, as ever, Will Long’s poise and patience is absolutely perfect here. Tightrope may be his most affecting statement yet.