Though Celer’s material is typically retiring in character, Without Retrospect, the Morning inhabits an even quieter space than usual. The volume level on one’s stereo setup must be turned up for the music to be clearly heard (unless, that is, one prefers having the material fill the room as subliminal sonic tinting), or perhaps one is best to treat the recording as a true headphones listen where all of its nuances can be appreciated and absorbed.
Celer is, of course, now a solo Will Long project, with his wife Danielle Baquet-Long (aka Chubby Wolf) having passed away from heart failure in 2009; her presence is felt, however, in the new release in the album’s title, which is credited to her. The recording actually dates back to 2009 when Will, toiling in a short-term capacity as a photographer and surveyor in Alberta, Canada, generated the base material using two Sony Tapecorders and recordings made with synthesizer and piano (the album, incidentally, was conceived of as the final part of a water-themed trilogy, the others being the already issued Cursory Asperses and In Escaping Lakes). Applying an endless delay system to the recorders, he assembled the album’s resultant pieces using cut-and-paste methods, and to complete the process subtly integrated field recordings gathered from the wintry setting; it’s this latter detail, of course, that makes Without Retrospect, the Morning a natural fit for the Italy-based Glacial Movements Records. Post-production eventually occurred when Long revisited the tapes two years later at his Tokyo home base and prepared the album for release.
The seven pieces are anything but violent, despite the fact that Will could hear the wind whipping against the snow-covered buildings during his Alberta stay. Instead, it’s as if the frozen land is sleeping and everything has assumed an unearthly stillness. Long might have drawn upon contact microphone recordings of ice, snow, and wind and cracking and crunching sounds during the production process, but the end result is as pure and fragile as could be imagined when crystalline tones waver softly in the air, their organ-like glisten reduced to an ethereal essence. Most of the settings hum at a low and peaceful ebb, the exception being the penultimate piece, “The Tears of Tategami Iwa,” whose whistling tones, rumblings, and grainy atmospheres assert themselves with a great deal more urgency than the other pieces. But to a large degree, the recording is quintessential Celer, a soothing, fifty-two-minute collection tailor-made to induce a state of restful calm in the receptive listener.