Archive for September, 2015

Touring is a strange experience. There are disappointments and surprises. The audience you expected wasn’t there, but those shows usually end up being the best. I didn’t expect I’d see these cities. Frankfurt in the rain, or falling asleep in the back of a car in Basel, waiting for a show to start. You wake up and you’re in a different place, or already moving on to the next before you can experience the place.

All the tapes I dubbed for the tour I left in the first hotel, and did the rest on the trains en route. When we walked to the field at Tempelhof, it was totally covered with snow, and it was so cold my camera lens froze. Your hair whipped in the wind like a mustang.

I remember the taxi interiors in Poland, and how many women wore leather in Russia. I couldn’t find bookstores, but it didn’t matter. Meeting everyone was the best part of it, you experience these small events during the days or at night, and you think how we’ll remember this forever. Then you return home, and never speak with them again.

Tempelhof was recorded on tour in 2013 in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and Russia. It was mixed in Japan between 2013 and 2015.

Da qualche tempo, Will Thomas Long ha intrapreso progetti diversi, diradando i ritmi serrati delle sue innumerevoli pubblicazioni. Sembra tuttavia che a Celer continui a riservare la dimensione più intima e toccante della sua espressione artistica.

Ne sono prova quattro nuove tracce frutto della rielaborazione e del finissimo filtraggio di vecchie partiture per pianoforte e flauto, che riportano l’artista californiano, da tempo residente in Giappone, alle memorie di luoghi affascinanti, visitati durante un viaggio tra Colorado e Monument Valley e, per loro tramite, a quelle pagine di vita lasciatesi alle spalle.

Si dischiude così un abisso romanticamente malinconico, di pura decompressione ambientale.

Though the title of Will Long’s latest Celer release references an Alan Jay Lerner-Burton Lane song from Stanley Donen’s 1951 musical Royal Wedding (and performed by Fred Astaire and Jane Powell), Long appears to be channeling someone like Debussy for the album’s four settings. With flutes forming a dominant part of the musical presentation, it’s almost impossible not to be reminded of the Impressionist composer and a representative work such as the symphonic tone poem Prélude à l’après – midi d’un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun). Such issues aside,How could you believe me when I said I loved you when you know I’ve been a liar all my life, issued on Long’s Two Acorns on vinyl and Chihei Hatakeyama’s White Paddy Mountain on CD, is a fine addition to what is now a rather staggering discography of Celer recordings.

Still, as Debussy-esque as the material might be on sonic terms, the origins for the project itself emerged far outside France’s borders, in the American southwest to be precise. It was there that a number of years ago Long undertook a road trip with his eighty-year-old uncle that saw them take in the glorious sights of sun-bleached canyon walls and billowing clouds. The two made their way across the Colorado plateau, past Monument Valley, and through Aspen in all its ski resort and celebrity mansion glory before ending the trip near Ouray.

Years later, when Long copied a quartet of tape loop-based tracks sourced from electric piano and wooden flute onto sun-baked cassette tapes and a warped twelve-inch vinyl test pressing, he was struck by how much the material reminded him of that road trip and what he’d left behind in moving from California to Japan. In addition, whatever imperfections there were in the playback became an analogue to the distortions in memory of the trip that had accrued over time.

Given such background, it doesn’t surprise, then, that the tone of the recording is nostalgic and plaintive. Soft orchestral swells breathe ever so gently throughout the four settings, and their loop-based design calls to mind William Basinski as much as their delicate shimmer and sparkle suggests classical Impressionism. Yes, occasional pops of static and grime do momentarily derail the musical flow (the most conspicuous example being the temporary arrestation that occurs near the end of “Acrimonious, like fiddles”), but such interference comes to seem an inextricable part of the recording’s character. It’s classic Celer, in other words, a tremulous, forty-six-minute set whose seductive lull will be familiar to long-time devotees.

After receiving that Bandcamp email that Szcezpanik had dropped a new joint, and after happily plunking down $10 for Here, for now, I wondered who Celer was (prior to just looking on Facebook for Long’s artist page) and I happened upon his vast discography, including his brand new effort—the incredibly titled, How could you believe me when I said I loved you, when you know I’ve been a liar all my life. And one quick listen to the transcendental opening track, “Bleeds and swell blends,” I knew that I had stumbled across an incredible listen.

“Bleeds and swell blends,” hyperbole aside, is nearly 13 minutes of sheer auditory perfection. Reserved, somber, and nostalgic, Long weaves an absolutely captivating and hypnotic loop that I could seriously listen to all fucking day. It’s simple—the sequence repeats itself only after a short while—but that’s the beauty of it. It’s warm, calming, melancholic, and comforting. This track alone is what we talk about when we talk about ambient and experimental music.

And lucky for you, the listener is that there are three more tracks following that—the whimsical wood-wind swirls of “These dreams, how portentously gloomy,” the mournful, Basinski-esq ripples of “Natural deflections,” and the balance of the dreamy and the shrill on the final piece, “Acrimonious, like fiddles.”

How could you believe me is both an outstanding record in its own right—innovative and imaginative, but it also serves as a gateway to the vast canon that Long has on his Bandcamp page, taking you down a swirling hole of reserved, at times omnious and shadowy, and at times gorgeous tape loop manipulations.

Will Thomas Long has made some changes to the Celer sound in recent releases, such as the subtle rhythmic structure of Voyeur, or the unending meditative repetition of Jima.  How Could…, in that context, feels like a call back to the traditional sound he pioneered, laden with light wisps of sound, and pieces that evolve slowly but beautifully, never forcefully commanding attention yet never drifting off into the background.

Loops play a significant role on this album as well, but in less of a static context and more as a foundation that the pieces are built upon.  The source material is rather basic:  electric piano and flute, but what appears on How Could… is the result of decay.  The instrumental loops were extracted from cassette tapes that had been exposed to the sun and warped vinyl test pressings, resulting in a sound that is as hot and arid as the Western US desert landscapes that inspired the album.

“Bleeds and Swell Blends” resembles the ghosts of digital chimes, drifting light and weightless through space.  There is a delicate and gentle sensibility to the piece that is quite peaceful, yet has a haunting quality to it.  “These Dreams, How Portentously Gloomy” is a more than apt title for the following composition.  Digital piano tones shine through a glistening passage of sound that would make perfect film score music, floating slowly and eventually taking on a more somber, introspective mood in its second half.

The source of “Natural Deflections” is less clear, because the sound resembles that of bowed strings, but what Long actually began with is not at all explicit.  It has an even more buoyant quality to it, sparse but consisting of a strong collection of beautiful tonal drifts.  The closing piece “Acrimonious, Like Fiddles” at first is built upon slightly more dissonant sounds, ones that sound clearly like they began as flute recordings.  The loops are shorter so the pacing a bit more dynamic, but the mood is sadder compared to the other pieces.  Towards its conclusion, the more dissonant elements are reeled in to emphasize the purer, clean tones.

How Could… is released on the three major formats, and not only was the mastering done to best present the sound on tape, CD and record, the cassette version features alternate versions of “Bleeds and Swell Blends” and “Acrimonious, Like Fiddles”.  The differences are subtle, but perceptible.  The former seems to have a wider stereo spread, with a greater separation of channels.  “Acrimonious” has a thinner sonic spectrum to it, befitting the sound of a sun-damaged tape that sourced the piece.

Like much of Celer’s work, How Could… has a distinctly sparse and introspective sound to it.  Changes are slow, and are largely the result of loops that are tweaked and processed over time.  The source of the base recordings here adds an extra bit of complexity, because that expansive, sun bleached sound shines through from those damaged tapes and records.

Out of all the ambient types that littered our stock room with limited edition CD releases a few years ago, Celer were always the ones who could most easily evoke a mood of total calm. Now that there are fewer people making this kind of music, a release such as this long windedly titled record are much more welcome amongst the noise and debris of our over stuffed lives.

On opener ‘Bleeds and Swell Blends’, Celer immediately take you far away, to a sun bleached wheat field on a golden afternoon perhaps. The magic of this music is that it allows your mind to wander to a place you may have once felt at peace. This is done by using swirls of blissed out synths, plus the suggestion of an accordion and imperfect clicks and noises so it never sounds too clean. ‘These Dreams, How Portentously Gloomy’ swirls like bvdub being attacked by a gang of clarinets. Unlike that artist Celer leaves beats well along and concentrates on swells of sound.

It’s simple but very effective, immediately warming on the ear, no great departures just 45 minutes of blissed glory.

Prolific ambient sound maker Will Long continues his streak with this four-part drone cycle. In light of its languid and patient pacing, it’s curious to me as to why Long applied such downtrodden titles to the project — it certainly influences ones assumptions or opinions of the sound compared to a more purely objective listening. “Bleeds and Swell Blends” starts things off in a familiar lull, with a gradual crescendo of a repeating pattern of melancholy pads in time. It recalls pinkcourtesyphone’s rhythmic, looping nature but with a gloomier finish, especially considering the dour title of this particular release.

“These Dreams, How Portentously Gloomy,” despite its title, shimmers with a bit more mystique than the rather morose opener. Its contrasting loops of midrange pads and higher ones lends it the quality of dark clouds with occasional light breaking through, with a shared ominousness and faint suggestion of optimism. I find it to have a feeling of resignation rather than anger or rage, however, the sort of passive sigh of defeat that brings with it a certain tinge of serenity. Even still, the naming casts a dark shadow, with “These Dreams” tipping toward a vague tension rather than just an inert cloud.

“Natural Deflections” feels even more hazy by comparison, repeating Long’s approach to minimal, prolonged cycles of looping phrases, continuing into the final movement, “Acrimonious, Like Fiddles,” another decidedly dour title for an otherwise languid and patient slice of looped ambience. When so much of Long’s material has felt hushed and small, it’s curious to hear these more overtly looping, lulling selections juxtaposed with their surly titles, lending a barely-there catharsis to his dreamy production. Fans of subtly looping and repetitive minimalism from the likes of William Basinski, pinkcourtesyphone, or The Caretaker will likely enjoy the quiet temper of Celer’s sounds herein.

Field recordings are since the musique concrète integral part of the musical toolbox. However, the summary of the various results of works with ambient noise under the collective term of Field Recordings is the variety of possibilities made possible of course hardly do justice. Because the concrete can both as a raw material in its concrete form be reproduced, as well as a source of inspiration in the sound or the structure of a composition abstracts incorporated. “Sky Limits” by Celer goes the second path. The bits of recognizable noises are short; the spherical passages ambient sheaths make the main part the soundscape made, in which the imagination the listener can classify the known. The relationship between inside and outside is characterized fragmentary – the interior is through the outer always touched only briefly before the contact again breaks off and spreads the meditation.
Quite different D Bayne goes on “Meditations on Present Time” before. The recordings on walks were recorded, are in prolonged passages reproduced and thus give a trackable narrative. This is different Layers of piano superimposed. Similar a good movie soundtrack to reinforce this emotional content of the superficially visible. Both types of field recordings refer to equal to an impressive way on the cagesche paradigm that the most exciting music without interruption is played in everyday life around us.

Celer was once an American duo of Danielle Baquet-Long and Will Long, but since the death of the first Long is single-handedly continued to ambient project which also makes trips to installations and exhibitions. He also collaborates with Miko under the name Oh Yoko and Christoph Heemann as Hollywood Dream. His current residence Tokyo and a romantic, melancholy view of life determine the eleven songs on ‘Sky Limits’, where an almost zen-like beauty radiates. To stay in style: it seems very long haiku, where poetry, ambient sounds and grease smeared synth lines go hand in hand. Occasionally even on the verge of kitsch, as the moment of wholeness by a hair is removed and all records will fully open. Ordinary things like tea, and the train are interspersed with matters that occur in the higher regions, and are encased in overblown titles, but from everything speaks of joy and wonder.