Archive for July, 2012

The ten tracks on “Sunlir,” which according to press release are “Dedicated to Wendy Carlos,” continue the eternal procession of releases from the enigmatic Celer. The duo of Will Long and the late Danielle Baquet-Long set down enough musical explorations that Celer could go on posthumously as voluminously as Charles Bukowski. The looping tracks on “Sunlir” date from 2006 and, like most of their work, was self-released and rare to find even then.

Opening the set is “Spelunking The Arteries Of Our Ancestors,” which a straightforward, minimal ambient piece with subtle fluctuations of tone. “The Look That Falls Upon Us Extends As If A Landform” offers more of a swirling, Legeti-esque soundscape; “How Long To Hold Up A Breathless Face” is similar in cinematic imagery. “Igenous Matters Most” projects an echoing, haunting tone, as if recorded in a wide, empty, but holy building; that chanting doesn’t break out is almost disappointing. “Vitiating The Incline” has an insistent but lush pulse that takes its time in drawing out its many colors.

The longest piece, the ten minute “Espy The Horizon, Miss The Lost Road,” is consistently monotone, but its silky pulse is reverent, content to advance as is, at its own pace. It too could be considered a meditative, holy piece.
“Sunlir” continues the majestic, tragic and expansive world of Celer. It is available, in many formats, at their Bandcamp site; that there are many options with which to hear this music is fitting, as it should be approached with the idea that there are many gates through which to enter.



On the track ‘The Carved God is Gone’ on the album Discourses of the Withered, in the middle of the track is a protest recorded in Northern India in the early 2000’s. Included here are photos from that protest. Discourses of the Withered will be reissued later this year by Infraction Records, in a remastered and expanded version.

Il terzo capitolo della collaborazione tra Rutger Zuydervelt e Will Long è un nuovo 7″ realizzato in edizione limitata di duecentocinquanta copie, oltre che in formato digitale.
Con “Hei/Sou” si chiude dunque la trilogia di miniature che ha suggellato l’incontro tra due tra i più raffinati e prolifici scultori di paesaggi ambient-drone, che per l’occasione hanno deciso di riassumere le loro abituali lunghe suite in pezzi dalla durata totale intorno ai cinque minuti l’uno.

Il frutto dell’esperimento questa volta sono due brani di placide texture ambientali, i cui lievi drone sono puntellati esili tracce elettroniche, più evidenti in “Sou”, sotto forma di sibili e screziature sintetiche, mentre “Hei” tende a saturazioni più sorde irregolari.

Come già il precedente “Numa/Penarie“, anche questi brevi frammenti costituiscono un esercizio di concisione ben riuscito, il cui understatemen risulta pienamente coerente con il concept paesaggistico nipponico che l’ha ispirato. Completano l’opera due video realizzati da Marco Douma.


There are some surprising inclusions cropping up in the three long-form compositions ofEpicentral Examples of the More or Less, the latest from Will Long’s Celer, and it’s to his credit that they so artfully compliment the lengthy drones that dominate these pieces, and the longform ambient idiom in which Celer operates. For much of the set we’re in familiar territory: sustained warm hiss, washed out haze, hints of resonant industrial gloom, and the pervasive and expected continuation of these tropes makes their disruption all the more surprising.

Most unusual and unexpected are the looped chords of bright synths which introduce the final ‘Fill Your Light With Lessness / Untitled / Guilt As A Return To Melancholy’ (all pieces are similarly titled), a rhythmic phrase which could signal the beginnings of a peak time Innervisions number. These fade to reveal a snatch of film noir dialogue, a man highlighting a woman’s vulnerability, before lapsing into a familiar swathe of granular waves, pitched between Caretaker misery and Pop Ambient pleasure. The former tracks play with similar shifts in tone and approach, less dramatically: ‘Motionless at Lake Underhere…’ shifting subtly from blurred gauze and warehouse clang; ‘Layered Where I Can Listen Closely’ moving from a choir of squeaking chipmunks through to purring walls of gentle feedback. I’m not sure what these fractured structures imply but they keep you from nodding off, which may be what some listeners seek from Celer releases.


Titles suggestive of something – but what? Elusive… literary………

Is this album meditative? Zen-like?


(Ambient music? I don’t like the term. Outside my normal preference for beatless noir music professing to depict scenes of dread & horror, this music is welcome; a relief, a space in which to climb, away from the noise of the city here in Zone 1 & so much busy music on the hard drive – clutter – many would benefit from restraint…)

To paraphrase the title of one section, the sound of machines played by Will Long flood the room…

Less being more in this case, Long extracts maximum effect from the application of minimal tones with added (possibly field) recordings such as people in a room (a public space?) and a long spoken (Russian?) word intro. Yet all is not completely calm in the garden…there being interruptions, or rather, evolving passages a brittle sound. Reclusive intensity perfectly describes those parts. Intensity (being relative) plain and simple also bursts into life.

Much of this engages by stealth, and should be played frequently to pass any self-imposed barriers erected against refinement of this kind. And I’m talking to myself there.

The final track is 46mins long. One sustained, subtly shifting (ceremonial) organ(nic) tone poem (or) hymn to minimalism.


Will Long with Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek)

A 7-inch.

I last bought a 7-inch record in 1977.  But here, again, is mechanised wonder of the most pure (dare I say) variety. Where a small cathedral is duly erected with wave-upon-wave of sound moving from ear-to-ear  and through an almost child-like (in the best sense) melody. And  finally bolstered (very gently) by a bass tone, fading into the distance, as it began, to the sound of simulated cymbals.

If there is a church to mécanique musique Will Long must be it’s organist and with fellow orator Zuydervelt adding his voice it makes for a fascinating, beguiling sermon. Here, brimstone & fire rhetoric is replaced by an insistent whisper in the form of understated rhythm coaxing us to believe.


Though promising collaborations are a regular enough occurrence in underground music, seldom does the whole exceed the sum of its constituent parts. However, this final instalment in a trilogy of 7-inch singles from Celer and Machinefabriek is happily a case of two musical styles complementing each other quite perfectly, resulting in two short tracks of top-tier ambient exploration which can’t help but leave this particular listener wishing for more.

Hei/Sou comes with vintage Japanese postcards and follows similarly carefully packaged releases from the Celer and Machinefabriek pairing, named Maastunnel/ Mt. Mitake and Numa/Penarie, respectively. Like its predecessors, the creation of the two-sided single was facilitated by the internet, connecting the Rotterdam-based Rutger Zuydervelt and Tokyo resident Will Long over thousands of miles and several time zones.

Despite the artists’ significant physical distance from each other though, the music contained within this release feels like a cohesive whole and both of the two roughly five minute numbers contain sonic touches from each artist, lending Hei/Sou the appearance of a truly joint effort, with gentle soothing drones joined by subtle electronica to great effect. Each track is a fine example of subtlety and understatement, and Hei/Sou is also bundled with two accompanying videos by Marco Douma which lend an additional perspective to the music.

While this author doesn’t wish to hazard a guess as to where this work stands in regard to the voluminous previous works of Machinefabriek and Celer, it does feel like one of the better offerings from both in recent months and one can only hope that this inspired pairing continues to produce such results.


Due compositori prolificissimi e avvezzi alle lunghe durate alle prese con il difficile esercizio della concisione: alla fine dello scorso anno, Will Long e Rutger Zuydervelt hanno intrapreso una collaborazione, dapprima sfociata nei due brani di “Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake” e alla quale viene adesso fornito stabile seguito in quella che sembra destinata a essere una serie di 7” in vinile.

I due brani di “Numa/Penarie” provengono da una serie di più articolate registrazioni, condensate in dieci minuti che mantengono fede alle loro componenti d’origine, evidenziando da un lato le impalpabili texture dell’artista americano e dall’altro le sperimentazioni analogiche di quello olandese.
Lungi dal costituire rappresentazioni brevi ma monolitiche, i due brani seguono un percorso di continua trasformazione: in “Numa” tremule ondulazioni raggiungono il grado di saturazione per poi venire puntellate da qualche pulsazione e da variopinti detriti sonori, mentre le più evidenti tastiere della prima parte di “Penarie” lasciano gradualmente spazio a modulazioni vaporose e quasi romantiche.

Si direbbe dunque un esercizio pienamente riuscito, che tuttavia potrebbe suscitare qualche interrogativo sull’enorme mole di produzioni di entrambi gli artisti, che qui dimostrano di saper concentrare addirittura in miniature di pochi minuti molto di quanto solitamente espresso in dischi interi.


Epicentral Examples of the More or Less now available for preorder, direct from Futuresequence:

Press release:

Celer is the solo ambient project of sound artist Will Long, who works out of Tokyo, Japan. He is well known for producing dense, emotive creations that are never lost in the gloom of myriad other ambient releases, due to the remarkable delicacy of each layer of sound in his pieces, which never become overwhelming or too drawn-out to to sustain their initial emotional content, as is so often the case with many extended ambient compositions.

Indeed, the thought that goes into Celer releases is evident from the incredibly detailed titles that Long has given to each of the three tracks on Epicentral Examples of the More or Less, with each small portion of the title being relevant to an individual phase within each overall track – an arrangement choice which is made, on listening, into a feat of compositional skill, due to the fact that the tracks, even when starkly cutting between samples of reversing tapes, field recordings, and Celer’s trademark throbbing, glowing drones, at no point ever sound merely like a compilation of small pieces. Rather, the album remains cohesive overall, and whilst at points the listener is met with surprises in the form of phasing waves of bright sequencers – a sound that many would never have imagined Long using after listening to releases such as Evaporate and Wonder – or even acid-house synth waves on Fill Your Light With Lessness from the third and final track – Epicentral Examples of the More or Less retains the genuine emotive content that has become a cornerstone of Celer releases, coupled with a creative talent that leaves most contemporary ambient music dead in the water.

Recorded over two years in Jakarta, Indonesia and Tokyo, Long appears to have had time to revisit these recordings over and over again, allowing him to produce a release that is simultaneously a step forward for Celer’s sound, and the level of musical wizardry that the rest of the ambient scene must now aspire to reach.

While some on holiday are sucked into over-crowded commercial tourist traps, and others are off in their resorts or private villas, some of the most memorable places and experiences are the somewhat unusual, even off the beaten-path locales.  Picture postcards often contain brief accounts or memories of travels to these places, being descriptive, cryptic or comical anecdotes of a given day’s events, compressed into a few short phrases—a substitute for longhand letters.  They also serve to freeze a moment in time in a more permanent and retrospective fashion than the immediacy of a quick e-mail or photo sent via the internet.   These moments in time are what the trilogy of releases by Celer (Will Long) and Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) are like.

It started when they performed together in November, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan and then decided to collaborate remotely on a series of short releases beginning in October, 2011 between Tokyo and Rotterdam.  The pieces started as larger works and eventually were edited into musical postcards, or drone poems* of sorts, evoking a place, event or state of mind.  Artwork found by Long in Tokyo has been used for the covers of the 7 inch vinyl releases with design and graphic layout by Zuydervelt.  As much as I appreciate the convenience of digital-format music, there is something quite special about the 7 inch record, packaged in artful sleeves of re-purposed postcard and souvenir images.  Even better, each piece is accompanied (via download) by a beautiful and timeless video interpretation by multimedia artist Marco Douma.

The soon-to-be-released Hei/Sou is the last in this trilogy.  Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake and Numa/Penarie were the first two releases.  Digital files are also available and the vinyl pressings are limited to 250 copies each (Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake vinyl is now sold out).

Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake are readily identifiable places.  Maastunnel is a tunnel in Rotterdam and this track has some mystery.  The piece opens on the outside approach to the tunnel (with the ambient sounds of water).  There is an apparent twist in the plot where voices can be heard, “I didn’t see his face…he might have been just anybody…just anybody.”  Suddenly, a break to the interior where vehicles are passing over expansion joints creating pulses that resonate throughout the underground structure before a quick return to the roadway above-ground.  Mt. Mitake is a contrast to the underworld.  It starts with a sense of floating in the clouds.  The second section creates a sense of tension with the calming effects of the first section in the background; kind of a panoramic view with scenes changing.  The peaceful opening section returns to close the track.

Numa/Penarie are more obscure experiences.  Numa is almost like a collection of sounds experienced throughout the day; clusters of lights buzzing, bell-like sounds, subways braking, jets taking off in the distance.  The second section is more intense (again, a feeling of being underground), expansive and layered with lower frequencies underneath.  The close brings a return of lighter and higher frequencies, returning somewhat to the opening themes.  Penarie is somewhat perplexing; it’s dense, electric and unrestrained.  It expands and contracts with clusters of tones.  Then there is a pleasant interlude of Mellotron-like waves before mixing with the original themes and sounds, while being accompanied by a clock and then fading quickly, almost like a fleeting dream.

The forthcoming Hei/Sou is the more contemplative of the three releases, and the most abstract.  Hei starts with a cymbal-like percussive and then drifts into a gentle sustained keyboard mantra with a wandering background of gentle buzzing and contrasting deep bell-like tones.  The cymbals return and are combined with a placid cluster of sound.  Sou opens with a Morse-code-like pulse and omnipresent warping tones that gradually combine with a fabric of lightly sequenced rhythms, and there they hang in suspension as the pulsing grows stronger and then fades.  Gradually an undertow of deep liquid sound emerges to the foreground and the rhythms are overtaken and then disappear.

These self-released sound postcards are beautifully presented visions of places and experiences.  Where will Celer and Machinefabriek be traveling to next?