Archive for August, 2012

Aujourd’hui je me suis allongé sur le lac. Vous savez, ce lac. Cherchez, vous le connaissez.
(Ils ne voyaient pas de quel lac je parlais…) Pourtant j’y vais, souvent, trop souvent. J’aime à y noyer mes pensées. Et en flottant sur cette eau claire qui reflète le ciel, j’ai beau me dire que toute cette pression que les gens me mettent, toutes ces mauvaises choses qu’ils ont en tête ne sont que… (Les flots se creusaient sous moi, non plus comme un lit mais comme une faille.)

J’ai commencé à m’enfoncer dans les entrailles des eaux. Mes pensées sont très rapidement devenues des réflexes nerveux, et de contemplateur je passais à “survis!” Je tentais d’agiter mes bras et mes jambes de manière synchronisée, à la manière d’une grenouille dont, j’espère, je n’avais pas l’élégance. (De l’air, de l’air !) Mes poumons se rétractaient, comme si je revivais ma naissance à l’envers. Aspiré.

Et j’ai voulu crier, sous l’eau – mais sous l’eau le son se résume à quelques bulles, en surface… Quelques frissonnements au loin, sûrement des poissons, et quelques lumières, sûrement… sûrement…

L’eau dans les poumons. J’ai respiré la moitié de la faune et de la flore par la même occasion. Je ne sais pas si vous en avez déjà fait l’expérience, mais c’est à ce moment que tout se floute. Que tout devient distant, et que cette seconde où l’on devient le lac est tellement distordue qu’elle est en fait une brève éternité.

Quoi qu’il en soit, c’est là que je me suis mit à tout voir comme à travers un prisme. Coloré, tournoyant, d’un calme oppressant. Un calme lumineux et kosmischiqueEn plein délire, me direz-vous, mais lors de cette noyade tout me parlait, tout… chantait. Et je me suis mis aussi à chanter, sous l’eau – enfin c’est ce que je crois. Même si j’étais face à la terre trempée, au fond, je me sentais monter dans une irrésistible quiétude. Je préfère décidément ce fond marin aux open-space. Pourtant tous les poissons me voient, ici. Moi qui n’ai pas de branchies, je devrais me sentir ridicule.

Et puis j’ai levé les yeux. Et j’ai battu des paupières. Je me souvenais de cet endroit, vu d’en haut, d’au-dessus de l’eau. Et je me suis souvenu d’elle. Enfant. Je m’étais accroché à l’arbre, en cochon pendu. Et comme moi aujourd’hui, elle avait bu l’eau. Elle en avait bue jusqu’à inonder les 35% de son corps qui n’étaient pas de l’eau. C’est un peu comme un cimetière de baleines… ici viennent se retrouver ceux qui sont perdus. Et les yeux vers leur ciel, chanter. Je m’étais toujours demandé ce qu’étaient ces interférences, à la surface des lacs.

Celer est le projet de Will Long, un artiste très productif dans la scène ambient (sous diverses formes). Et ce n’est pas parce qu’il produit beaucoup qu’il produit mal. Au contraire, il livre des heures de rêve, et d’impression de coma surréaliste… je vous invite à découvrir le travail de ce merveilleux artiste sur son site.


Tutti i compositori ambientali, prima o poi, si trovano a fare i conti con il grado zero della loro forma espressiva, finendo per confrontarsi con qualcosa di molto prossimo al silenzio.

Will Thomas Long non sfugge a tale ambiziosa prova, proponendo in “Evaporate And Wonder”, due tracce di circa venti minuti l’una, la cui calma e apparente staticità sublima una testimonianza di quanto offerto dal progetto Celer in ormai un centinaio di pubblicazioni soliste o in duo.

Le registrazioni alla base di “Evaporate And Wonder” risalgono al 2009, pochi mesi prima dell’improvvisa scomparsa di Danielle Marie Baquet, compagna di Will nella musica e nella vita.

Un’emozione ancor più intensa percorre dunque oggi l’ascolto delle due composizioni, fragili contemplazioni di una bellezza fugace, rappresentata da rispettosa distanza attraverso un’evanescente coltre di synth e field recordings improvvisati.
Sulla persistenza vaporosa di sottili layers di fondo, si incardinano strumenti appena percettibili, mentre solo “Bedded In Shallow Blades” presenta un lieve crescendo che avvolge in morbide spirali, ideale punto d’incontro tra musica ambientale e neoclassicismo suonato da un’orchestra immaginaria. E memoria e silenzio, appena un passo più in là.


Celer & Machinefabriek are having a great year.  In addition to their separate releases, they’ve toured, released a download set of the tour, and completed a trilogy of fine vinyl singles, of which Hei/Sou is the final piece.  Perhaps the most exciting thing about their collaboration is the extent to which each seems to have been inspired and invigorated by the presence of the other.  By pushing each other into new territories, they’ve each upped the ante, as best demonstrated on Celer’s latest release for Somehow Recordings, Redness & Perplexity – a Celer recording that strikes out into bolder and weirder fields.  In order for artists to stay relevant, they must continue to evolve, and that’s exactly what we’ve been hearing here.

Take “Hei” for example.  The opening portion doesn’t sound like either Celer or Machinefabriek, but the work of some new melodic, beat-driven producer.  After setting the pace with hi-hats, the duo introduces a synth warble and a drone – elements of their individual productions that seldom appear together.  It’s a bold statement, a confident, in-your-face opening that proclaims, “We’re not what you expect.”  Eighty seconds in, the entire song shifts to the ambient spectrum, while preserving hints of the opening in the extended support notes.  The louder elements are mixed softly, while the softer elements are mixed loudly, further inverting the listener’s expectations.  When the percussion returns, it seems less a declaration than a gentle reminder.

“Sou” rests in more familiar territory, but the melodic impulses remain, making Hei/Sou the most immediate of the three vinyl singles.  The piece opens with a sound that rests somewhere between backward masking and morse code, leading to a glistening center of cycling tones.  Volume is once again a noticeable tool, as the primary pattern rises and retreats, trading places with the similarly active drone.  Few artists toy with internal volume so effectively; “Sou” reminds the listener that knobs can be just as important as notes.

Those who purchase the release will also be given access to two videos by Marco Douma, completing the 2012 triptych.  A box set would seem a distinct possibility, but at the very least, we hope these fine artists will continue to work together in the years to come.


So this is the third in the series of 7”s by these ambient heavyweights, it’s limited to a minuscule 250 copies has delightful artwork and comes with a postcard containing a download code. The music on ‘Hel’ is very pretty fluttery electronic stuff with sizzling cymbal crashes competing with haunting daydream synths, soothing and relaxing.

On the flip there is a heavenly organ drone, joined by a kind of skittery synth, three minutes of undulating bliss which is well worth the admission price alone. A very pleasant disc which you are well advised to pick up quickly as it will sell out promptly.


I have not been swimming at all this rainy summer, but these last days I have been bathing in ambient/electronica from Celer (Will Long) and Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt).

They both seem to have released a whole bunch of records, but I have to admit they are new to me.
I have checked out several of Celer´s albums, and like the floating and melancholic mood of the music, like on “Evaporate and wonder” and “Lightness and irresponsibility”, and his use of samplings from movies (i believe!), as the Japanese chat on “Redness and perplexity”.

To me, ambient music may last forever, when I´m in the mood, but Machinefabriek and Celer made it fit the 7″ format too!
Get yourselves the beautiful “Hei”/”Sou“, either the digital version or the limited vinyl edition (250 copies. It´s even on Soundcloud.


The new release of Two Acorns, by Il Grande Silenzio, will be released September 1.

Within an extremely slow tempo, the raw sounds by banjo and self-built equipment by Il Grande Silenzio barely form a shape of music, like the soundtrack for silent characters in a monotone world. Il Grande Silenzio, the name taken from the title of a spaghetti western, is Minoru Sato and Atsuo Ogawa, both of which are working in the field of contemporary art.

Minoru Sato plays the self-built instrument “RP3M”. Atsuo Ogawa plays banjo, and provides voice. The music pieces of this first album were recorded between Autumn 2009 and Spring 2010. ‘home’ and ‘OTO’, made by an approach to improvisation, represents the original form of Il Grande Silenzio’s free-style sessions. ‘November’ and “forest” were formed by repeating simple phrases for long durations. Inside the music is an ambiguous harmony, like a new form of extreme folk music.



Minoru Sato

Minoru Sato has an interest in a relationship between the description of nature and an art representation. He is creating artworks per physical phenomena and various concepts. His activities are explored in the form of installations, multiples, performances and texts.

He ran the label “WrK” from 1994 to 2006. Now he is producing music pieces by solo, collaboration with ASUNA and others. He is organizing various contemporary art exhibitions/events as a curator.


Atsuo Ogawa

Our hands move spontaneously, and for Atsuo Ogawa, drawing a line is as natural as breathing, never knowing when and where to stop. His drawings of delicate patterns consist of one line, and the support ranges from paper, glass, mirror, soap, wood and even to the wall or floor. Ogawa has been an active participant in many solo and group shows since the late 1990’s.


TWO ACORNS : Label Profile :

Founded in 2010, Two Acorns is a publisher of different types of art forms ranging from music, to books, to film, and is combined with original packaging, with a focus on sentimentality in all its forms, new and old, shelved and worn, perfect and new. These are things you can hold in your hand, or keep on your bookshelf, to keep these feelings, memories, and experiences. There is no replacement for the smell of a book, the sound of a needle dropping on a record, or the consistently changing nature of our memories.

Created by Celer (Will Long) and Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) in Tokyo and Rotterdam in June 2012, Hei / Sou brings to a close the duo’s trilogy of seven-inch collaborations. As with the two previous singles, Maastunnel / Mt. Mitake and Numa / Penarie, the release comes with two videos by Marco Douma and is available in a physical edition of 250 numbered copies (downloads also are available of all three releases).

The single’s two pieces are detail-packed microcosms of ambient-drone activity. “Hei” begins with ringing cymbal accents that are quickly joined by burbling synthesizers and electronic atmospheres before the material decompresses to form a becalmed, slow-motion stream of glittering flourishes. Slightly more sedate by comparison, “Sou” scatters micro-flickers of percussive rattlings alongside a central drone until swirls threaten to combust during the piece’s late stages. The video for “Hei” shows an uninterrupted flow of hazy images of sunlight and shadow, with the setting (or rising) sun bleeding through abstract silhouettes formed by what appear to be trees and fences. The treatment for “Sou” adopts a more abstract character, with nary a real-world element displayed within Douma’s blurred scrim of silvery textures and criss-crossing patterns.

One of the most appealing things about the Celer-Machinefabriek collaboration is that it brings out compelling sides of both participants and broadens out their respective sound-worlds in surprising and unexpected manner. Given that each of the singles totals about ten minutes in duration, one imagines that a full-length CD document of the collaborative project might conceivably pair the three singles with a half-hour piece taken from their live concerts. Regardless, it’d be a shame to see such a fruitful collaboration come to an end with the release of this third single.


Celer aka Will Long is a prolific producer with several albums, collaborations and EP’s on his CV. 2012 is no different and sees a multitude of his releases coming to fruition on various labels in multiple forms and editions. It is all the more wonderful that his releases never seem to be rushed or impatiently thrown at his fanbase. Lightness And Irresponsibility continues this tradition and is actually his strongest solo work of 2012 due its bold connection to Japanese culture and art. Usually residing in Huntington Beach, California, Celer is for now a citizen of Tokyo. With great beauty comes great responsibility, and Long is keen on soaking the minimalistic traits of the Japanese Ambient scene in: with only two tracks on this album, both with a duration of over 20 minutes, he favors compositional skills over synth tweaking. This fact is referenced implicitly in both compositions that are very similar to each other and are based on identical textures and layers. The surprise level in this regard is low, but Lightness And Irresponsibility doesn’t want to be consumed this way anyhow, for tranquility and reflective peacefulness are the superior goals that are encapsulated in every drone layer and alcove of it. Both tracks were recorded in Tokyo in March 2012 and given their cover artwork by Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek, a frequent collaborator with Celer. It is released on the Constellation Tatsu cassette label. However, the album is also available in digital form in many digital music stores. Can one really write an in-depth review of two supposedly overly similar tracks? One can indeed, especially since this Drone gem delivers big time if you’re a fan of Japanese Ambient music and embrace calm, entrancing arrangements.

An Unforced Cheerfulness is, first things first, an auspicious and greatly chosen track title. It describes the best possible way of living in modern times, I suppose, and with these thoughts in mind, I approached this 20+ minutes long composition, hoping to find an intense aura that is at the same time laid back and convivial. And in a way, this is exactly what’s presented throughout the duration, but thankfully, the feelings of tranquility, peacefulness and solemnity are much more in the limelight than any cheap wave of euphoria. An Unforced Cheerfulness fades in slowly and in a balmy manner, with gracefully meandering water-soaked morning dew synth layers that are both ecclesial and warm. Soft bass drones add plasticity and depth to the gleaming atmosphere, and there are slightly, almost inaudible cherubic traits to be found in the moiré of intimate majesty. Upswell and downfall of the layers are carefully placed, as if not to disturb the fragile flow. The textures themselves are neither hazy nor thick, but inherit the humble iridescence that is so typical for artists who reside in Japan or are of Japanese origin. The compositions of Drone and Ambient artists like Tetsu Inoue,Masayuki Taguchi or Pass Into Silence come to mind who create a similar, purposefully reduced mixture of gently wafting gusts only to increase the pompousness at the right moments, and then only with the greatest care. Celer’s first track uses the same stylistic trick and is yet different, even scarily so: while the first five minutes depict a forlorn mystique or melancholic mist, scarcely cacophonous layers are introduced shortly before the sixth minute that create tension and uncertainty; as it is the supposed norm of Drone tracks written in Japan, these slight mood shifts – or enhancements – aren’t pushed to the foreground. They are suddenly kind of there, but were unnoticed before thanks to their subtle nuances.

Be it as it may, the matrix of An Unforced Cheerfulness opens up, expands and widens the mood range from the aforementioned sixth minute onwards. The formerly morning-evoking layers are now played in minor at times, suggesting an approaching uneasiness and dangerous figments. As I’ve implied in the previous paragraph, I’m talking about audible, easily perceptible adjustements in tonality. The overarching mood is maintained and doesn’t change, and even the bass drones that are more prominent around the ten-minute mark don’t bring baneful foreshadowing visions with them. The last third of the track sees a decrease of the tone shifts in minor, as the point of departure is now reached again, with warmer undertones that try to mediate between sadness and happiness, before the song fades out slowly. An Unforced Cheerfulness thus provides a twofoldly reduced setting: firstly, all ingredients and synth-related parts are already introduced right from the get-go. It’s only a few nuances and tiny shifts that are adjusted, but otherwise, no cheap thrills or unexpected surprises detract from the mood. Secondly, the mood itself is maintained throughout the track. It is true that it starts with contentment and moves into gloomier territories in its middle section, but don’t expect a clear-cut progression or marker. The shift just happens and makes room for a reprise of the titular unforced cheerfulness in the last third. Despite the runtime of 20 minutes, it’s a minimal track that encapsulates warmth and gleaming beauty as well as doleful memories, but both moods aren’t presented in an explanatory manner. Like an almost imperceptible breeze, they float around and merge with opposite moods and wind directions. It’s a beautiful Japanese track for skilled Ambient listeners. “Not much is going on,” as one of the most despised sentences of a reviewer’s repository tells you oftentimes. I’m stating the same. But behind the curtain lies the true beauty of An Unforced Cheerfulness. Peek behind it, and you’ll receive a treat.

The second composition with a runtime of 22+ minutes is called Involuntary Impromptu. Again, the human will is implicitly referenced in the title. The tonal characteristic traits of this second track are undoubtedly very similar to An Unforced Cheerfulness, but due to a certain feature, Involuntary Impromptu could well be the more attractive alteration: this second track is all about a good dose of happiness and an eupeptic outlook. As expected, these moods aren’t depicted via synth (out)bursts or particularly memorable hooks, no, it is once again all about the slow build-up. Right from the start, the same gleaming, misty morning-like synth waves wash over the listener, but they seem to shimmer in golden colors as if they bathed in sunlight. Warmth and contentment are more prominent, and the droning bass accompaniments are a further source of thermal heat. Of great success are once again the undertones one might miss: the pulsating and occasionally piercing drone layers which swirl around the main synth lines glitter and glow despite their fragility and thin nature, and it is during the eighth minute that they are allowed to shine, as all other elements are faded out for a short moment. The atmosphere is gelid, almost glacial, but since the bass drones are coming back soon enough and the mood is so majestically humble – an oxymoron I’m using reasonably, I hope – and enchanting, this short moment of minimalism cannot be perceived as a stylistic break. In the last third, the bass drones are revved up and much more prominent, but never in the foreground. It is here that for short moments, the already known oscillation between shelter and danger-evoking gradual tone shifts occurs exactly three times, but it is by no means bold enough to deny Involuntary Impromptu its colorful aura of blithesomeness. As the song fades out slowly, a luxurious amount of calm and reflection is reached.

Lightness And Irresponsibility is a terrific release that mentions the programmatic mood shifts in its title already. Despite the warmth, insightful tranquility and maintained aura, this Japanese gemstone is only for the strong-minded Ambient listeners. Both tracks are very similar to each other. Over the timespan of 20 minutes, not much seems to change, there are no additional tricks to be found anywhere. One has to be patient. This is not the first time I’m making these remarks, for the albums by Thom Brennan, of which I’ve recently reviewed Mist (2000) and Vibrant Water (2001), may stylistically be far away from Celer’s music due to their opulent, luxurious wealth of synth layers, but still somewhat related in their depiction of focus. Impatient listeners won’t spot the tiny differences in-between the fissures of each track and might be bewildered about this fact. Will Long’s Lightness And Irresponsibility paints an entirely different scenario, but with the same deliberate process of reduction: no additional synthesizers or ornaments are introduced, the only shifts that occur refer to the context of the mood. It’s a composition-driven album, whereas many an Ambient album also relies on a mélange of changing styles and instrumental tweaks. Celer doesn’t succumb to the endless possibilities found in the realms of electronic music and delivers a wonderful, narrowly pinpointed Ambient album that offers plenty of microscopic curlicues for skilled Ambient listeners to unveil and observe. I’m always shying away from denying a listener his or her ability or skill of understanding or appreciating a work of art. It’s an affront, a cheap ad hominem attack, especially when it comes from a reviewer. However, I’m really trying to stress that the wide range of Ambient music styles isn’t always easily accessible. Celer’s Lightness And Irresponsibility sits on the melodious side of the spectrum, but its track durations and utter focus on peacefulness and reflective thoughts – both Japanese virtues – might put Pop Ambient fans and synth lovers off, hence my admittedly audacious reference to one’s skill. If you’re a fan of Japanese Ambient music, though, this is a no-brainer, not the least bit clichéd and hence highly recommended.


A smentire il luogo comune per cui la pletora di musica ambient-drone in circolazione sia dovuta alla sua facilità di realizzazione, Will Thomas Long ha impiegato oltre due anni per registrare, tra l’Indonesia e la sua attuale residenza giapponese, le tre lunghe composizioni raccolte in “Epicentral Examples Of The More Or Less”.

Ciascuna di essere è ripartita in diverse sequenze, fedelmente testimoniate dai rispettivi titoli, ciononostante la resa complessiva dell’opera risulta assai coesa e coerente con un percorso narrativo che si dipana dalle stranianti modulazioni e dalle coltri di rumore del brano iniziale alle sorprendenti sferzate sintetiche di quello conclusivo.
In filigrana, è sempre riconoscibile in tutte le composizioni di Long la sua concezione di manipolazioni sonore prolungate e sottilmente lavorate, sia che si tratti di profonde saturazioni droniche o di coltri vaporose, stavolta invero più tangibili di quanto, ad esempio, in “Evaporate And Wonder” oppure in “Lightness And Irresponsibility“.

Che corteggi attraverso field recordings le esplorazioni di Leyland Kirby nei recessi della memoria, oppure che arricchisca i suoi lunghi pezzi con screziature granulose, Will Thomas Long non smarrisce mai le componenti più contemplative ed emozionali del suono prodotto, fino a concludere con un ritorno alla malinconia (“Guilt As A Return To Melancholy”) uno dei più ricchi di spunti e variazioni tra i suoi lavori recenti.