Will Thomas Long has been less prolific as of late with material as Celer, his minimal ambient project. That longer space between releases has made each one all the more memorable, and that is no different with Sky Limits. Even though it is conceptually about the ephemeral nature of life and experiences, stopping to listen to these quiet pieces makes for a great metaphor of life on a grander scale.
The composed pieces are consistent with what Long has done as Celer for years. Long constructs “Circle Routes” entirely of gliding tones and expansive electronics. Layered and slow, the piece is gentle, but commands attention and never becomes dull. “In Plum and Magenta” features Long working in similar methods, but scaled back to be somewhat sparser, still conveying the same pensive emotions however.
The sound becomes a bit more intense on the middle pieces of the album, however. “Tangent Lines” has a sound that is more commanding and dense, a cinematic heaviness that conveys drama expertly. Long keeps the electronics heavy on the following “Equal to Moments of Completion,” emphasizing the lower end and creating an even greater sense of bombast.
In a similarly cinematic manner, the final two pieces have the sound retreating to a more gentle, placid conclusion. “Wishes to Prolong” floats more than looms, slowly whisping away its calm tones and melodies. The concluding “Attempts to Make Time Pass Differently” has Long working with a similar ghostly feel, but enhances it with a rich, slow driving expanse of tones. The closing minutes go to near silence, requiring focus and dedicated attention to fully appreciate.
With the whole of the album inspired by daily life in Japan, the six major pieces of music are interspersed with field recordings of mundane life: watching television while drinking tea, traveling on a train, or simply the sounds outside. Kept at a low volume level, it requires deliberate focus to be able to fully hear what is going on, a great metaphor for the rest of life.
Will Thomas Long’s use of sparse and minimal electronics throughout Sky Limits should be of no surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with Celer’s work. Weaved together with the bits of field recordings, the album almost becomes an anti-narrative. Unlike something of high concept and drama, the sounds are more about observing and appreciating the richness in the mundane, the every day experiences people ignore in the search for something bigger or more grandiose.