Archive for December, 2012

A new benefit compilation has been released, and I have contributed a track to it. Here is the press release, where you can read more about it:

“This colossal compilation has been curated by Headphone Commute to benefit all of those affected by Hurricane Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, which has devastated portions of the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States in late October 2012. 100% of all the proceeds generated from the sale of this album will be donated towards two charitable organizations: Doctors Without Borders and The Humane Society. The artists on the release have been hand-picked to showcase the world’s top talent in ambient, modern classical, and experimental music. The unprecedented selection features many unreleased pieces composed exclusively for the cause.”

The Celer track is #86, and can be heard here:

The entire compilation can be streamed and purchased here:

Thank you for your support of this compilation!



We’ve documented the heartfelt ambient excursions of Will Long before, but as the skies seemed to have permanently greyed over in NYC and we spend more time on the road or indoors with our music, now seemed an appropriate time to revisit his work. Perfectly Beneath Us, a forthcoming release on Russian imprint Still*Sleep, was recorded in Celer’s current hometown of Tokyo earlier this summer. For those of you unacquainted with the subtle, patient nature of Long’s productions, this release should provide an ideal entry point.

“Slightly Apart, Almost Touching” interweaves layers of tones to evoke alternating sentiments of melancholy and wonder, often at the same time. It’s layers unfold like not unlike the rolling farm fields that are depicted on the cover of the release…the transcendental quality of the song feels like it could go on for days, and pause time in the process.

Two shorter tunes with rising low-end levels connect the slowly gusting melodies of ”Slightly Apart, Almost Touching” to the release’s end-piece, ”Absolute Receptivity of All the Senses”. There’s a noticeable shift between the start and end of the EP, the air pressure seems to have lessened and a feeling of resigned comfort have replaced the blissfully wavering stasis of the opener.


Un disco di Will Long su una delle migliori etichette italiane della scena ambient: anche a scatola chiusa, tripudio di applausi. Il motivo? Semplicemente, la Glacial Movements Records, avviata sei anni fa da Alessandro Tedeschi – noto anche come Netherworld – è sinonimo di garanzia in termini di scelta degli artisti – da Rapoon a Lull, passando per Skare, Aqua Dorsa, Stormloop, Pjusk, Oöphoi, fino ai nomi, per così dire ‘maggiori’, quali Francisco López, Bvdub, Loscil e gli ottimi – per le proprie uscite, qualità audio e packaging curato e mai banale. Rifugiatosi a Tokyo, Celer, dopo la morte dell’amata moglie Danielle Baquet-Long a.k.a. Chubby Wolf, ha continuato a produrre da solo musica a oltranza e “Without Retrospect, The Morning” (2012) fa, infatti, parte di una trilogia ‘acquatica’ già avviata in precedenza, le cui registrazione risalgono all’inverno del 2009 quando lavorò come fotografo in Canada. Tra drone, field recordings e suoni sempre astratti e quanto minimalisti e sperimentali, nulla è mai fuori posto. Sublime.


Quello tra Alessandro Tedeschi e Will Thomas Long era un incontro in qualche modo inevitabile, per la genuina passione con la quale entrambi interpretano la loro attività creativa e per la loro inclinazione a trarre ispirazioni da elementi naturali o atmosferici.
Non poteva quindi trovare miglior collocazione dell’etichetta romana Glacial Movements, dedita all’esplorazione di un isolazionismo ambientale ghiacciato, il terzo capitolo della trilogia a tema acquatico di Celer, che già si era manifestata in “Cursory Asperses” e “In Escaping Lakes”.

Dunque il ghiaccio quale trasformazione dell’acqua, così come il suono quale variazione infinita dell’interazione tra elementi, quando non prodotto della spontanea interazione tra field recordings e oscillazioni minimali che lambiscono il silenzio o lo smuovono flebilmente.

Opera breve, almeno per i suoi monumentali standard (“appena” cinquantadue minuti), ed estremamente delicata “Without Retrospect, The Morning” è incentrata sulle frequenze più basse del ghiaccio, della neve e del vento, catturate in occasione di un soggiorno di Long nello stato canadese dell’Alberta, nel corso del quale ha altresì lavorato registrazioni di piano e synth, riducendole a un’essenziale stato gassoso attraverso filtraggi e prolungatissimi delay.

Ne risultano segnali sonori inafferrabili e quasi del tutto uniformi, tanto da richiedere un ascolto a volume elevato per poter cogliere le impercettibili variazioni di suoni che per buona parte del lavoro stentano quasi ad essere percepiti come tali. Sarebbe decisamente ridondante, in proposito, interrogarsi sul senso ultimo di una simile operazione ed è ben possibile che, nel farlo, qualcuno possa giungere a conclusioni recisamente negative; tuttavia, una volta poste in relazione le risultanze auditive con le finalità concettuale ad esse sottese, si può ben dire che “Without Retrospect, The Morning” adempia appieno la missione di restituire in forma sonora le sensazioni atmosferiche che ne costituiscono l’essenza più profonda.

Ciò avviene tanto nel soffio leggero di “Holdings Of Electronic Lifts” e nella nota risuonante di “A Landscape Once Uniformly White” quanto nelle dense saturazioni di “Dry And Disconsolate” e “Distance And Mortality”, le cui torsioni droniche si inarcano in sibili in moderato crescendo. Quando poi si giunge ai conclusivi tredici minuti di “With Some Effort, The Sunset”, l’uniforme coltre nevosa si colora di riflessi aurorali, aprendosi con incedere narcolettico alle suggestioni più fuggevoli dell’ispirazione di Long.

Che se ne colgano i profili formali di opera certamente non incentrata su variazioni significative o ci si lasci avviluppare dalle sue frequenze ipnotiche, “Holdings Of Electronic Lifts” adempie comunque alla sua missione di colonna sonora di neve e vento, evanescente e sottile come gli elementi che l’artista californiano – che, ironia della sorte, sostiene di detestare il freddo – ha provato a trasformare in suono.


In 2008, while on my bike, I was unlucky enough to get hit by a car running a stop sign down the street from my house. Sadly, it’s pretty typical in such a congested area that was built when people were more worried about being run over by horse carriages careening down the street at a then-godforsaken seven miles an hour. Some notable things changed for me of course, but to be honest, the ultimate result of learning to cope with the lasting effects of being hit by a car has been to lend me a much better sense of humor about coping in general. Most of the time it’s pretty instinctive; when you think about it, we’re all coping, all broken in our own ways. Duh. If we all knew that we were seeing everything the same way, what would be the point? I may not really remember what some things taste like, I get particular smells stuck in my sinuses for weeks on end (please, Jesus, let it be nutmeg again this time and not city bus B.O.), and I don’t hear much outside the range of low frequencies in my left ear, but in all honesty, I could hardly care less. Did you know Brian Wilson was partially deaf?

Anyway, the point is this: there may have been a time when I was very concerned with experiencing music correctly, but these days, in the wake of learning to hear things again in my own fashion, I can hardly think of something more preposterous. Are we really trying to tell ourselves that everyone isn’t hearing everything a little differently? Certainly, there is enough consensus to go on for the sake of crafting some temporary standards of audio quality, but to be realistic, they should be viewed as the momentarily useful appraisals of technical precision they are—and really, most music that prescribes to those fleeting laws of “true listening” just isn’t very interesting. All this to explain why I enjoy music like that made by Celer’s Will Long so much: the idea that there is an objectively ideal way to hear something is about as silly as saying there is a simple definition for a good painting. And given the fact that the promotional material for Celer’s recent I, Anatomy LP includes the phrase “[the record] isn’t a story, it’s a hundred stories,” I think it’s safe to assume that Long understands where I’m coming from.

I, Anatomy reminds me that incidentals and eccentricities are simply inherent to the listening process. No one will ever hear even the most well-produced record the same way twice if only for the dynamics of earwax, so why even attempt to embody the possibility? You know someone is just gonna upload all of your records to sendspace at 92kbps and spam the whole world, and it’s a bummer that you can’t control how everyone hears your music every time, so why not open the process up to those incidentals, magnify them in a sort of intentional overload? As a whole, I Anatomy is characterized by elusive, dense layers of sound and self-obscuring composites that create a sort of pleasurable lack of being able to discern individual elements. The effect is a common one in my experience of intriguing ambient music, which is what I’ll call Celer’s brand: always questioning the “truth” of the sound at hand. I love that it forces me to constantly ask if what I’m hearing really is what I’m hearing.

Celer’s brand is almost too idiosyncratic to be open to interpretation, as the band’s history (which now finds Long based out of Tokyo) has been subsumed almost fully by somewhere around thirty hand-made, self-released pieces, as well as a personal tragedy that left Celer as a solo act. Yet, it’s almost impossible at any point in I, Anatomy to separate the soundscape into any constituent parts, into any specific emotions, which, while not being exactly groundbreaking for this genre, is made a very interesting focus in execution. What we hear is not necessarily a discernible “collection” of distinct sounds so much as the barely visible, vaporous apparitions that flash and hum in the midst of the foggy intersection of so many colliding atmospheres, like the mysterious ring that echoes from inside your head in the midst of too many thrumming appliances. Celer posits that mysterious ring as a sort of instinctive harmony, an opportunity as presented by the endless variation of individual biology to experiment with the possibilities of individualized experience—and those moments of mysterious, transcendent resonance are many. When we start to think about how unique each person’s internal soundsystem may actually be, we start to truly explore the sonic possibilities of this kind of strategically dense ambient composition. That obsession with the mechanics of interpretation, and that desire to push music past the realm of strict objective listening standards, are the things that have always excited me about music like this. It may be a bit of an obvious statement about ambient music to say that it’s particularly well-equipped to address these chameleonic aspects of sound, but the ways in which it stands out on I, Anatomy make it worth mentioning.

Thanks to these qualities in particular, I, Anatomy maintains a sort of irresistibly intense gravitational pull. There always seems to be some barely-there sound haunting the furthest edges of the oscillating landscapes, plumes of ghostly electrical voices rising and fading before you can really get a hold on them. And it’s that feeling, of being drawn into a vibrating sonic black hole—ever deeper into what first appears to be a simple two-dimensional space but on closer inspection begins to pull the ear ever further in toward it’s crushing center—that buoys the record’s unassuming victories. The search for those mysterious undertones becomes an immersive, even hypnotic experience, and gives I, Anatomy a subtle depth that’s sure to keep a listener happily questioning what might be the next time through. Tracks roll like charged molasses, from ringing, ELEH-style minimalist tundras to bursting walls of treated Hecker-esque strings, but never seem to leave behind that coy invitation to go with the flow, to make something positive out of an irrational fear of tinnitus. That coping, after all, is only natural.

Of course, I’m sure a lot of effort went into recording I, Anatomy clearly and to the best technical efforts of those involved. But what really hits home in the end is that the idea of hearing something specifically crafted for rigid, repeatable, reliable clarity doesn’t seem like the point. It’s almost as if Long would be very pleased to discover that your friend heard something completely different when you played his record for them. If two composers sat down to reproduce tunes from the record by ear alone, I think the difference in their arrangements and harmonies would be effectively astonishing.

I’m reminded more than a little of Ryoji Ikeda’s landmark LP +/- (1996), which of all the records I can think of that display this quality, probably does it most directly and succinctly. Ikeda’s masterpiece was presented to me as an environmentally adaptive listening experience, or one that would shift and change based on my position relative to the sound and the listening space, and it is still, to say the least, an ah…ear-opening experience in regards to exploring the incidental possibilities of sound. From that point on, I just had a much harder time accepting music that didn’t take those elusive qualities of sound to heart in some way. So I’ve got to thank Mr. Long for validating me in a small way there. I no longer lament my inability to hear things the same way that someone else does, but rather enjoy making a point of celebrating my own unique cipher as much as possible. I, Anatomy might just do the same for you, too.