“Wasted in the Waiting” is a re-release from the digital-only release from 2020, now on cassette available through Cosmic Winnetou (Thank you, Günter). So as a re-release, I usually would have spent a bit less time, but … As it was digital only, it has not yet been reviewed in Vital Weekly. So: Yeah! New Celer! “Wasted in the Waiting” is a 2-track album, “Unreality in Misfortune” counts 38 minutes, “Mere Threads” is almost 46. So if you just read the Modelbau review, you already see me being happy: Long meandering tracks with subtle behaviour are the audible territory. And yes, “Unreality in Misfortune” is a perfect example, even with the abrupt ending. The build-up is massive, the choice of orchestral sounds significant, and it seems endless. Then, “Mere Threads”. The beginning is about the best I’ve ever heard, and the track is Celer. It goes on and on and works best when played in the background to form ‘one’ with your environment … Hmm, now, where have I heard that before … Yes, the minimalism that is Celer is an acquired taste, but if you were to try something this minimal, you might as well try this one.
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Two Acorns bringen im Februar die lange angekündigte Wiederveröffentlichung des frühen Celer-Albums “Discourses of the Withered” (Infraction Records 2008) heraus, das seinerzeit in der Besetzung Will Long und Danielle Baquet) entstanden ist. “After 3 years of handmade self-releases of one-offs and itinerant experiments, we collected these early methods into a compound and unified set of recordings, consisting of multi-stage narratives”, erinnert Long heute an den Entstehungprozess.
des zwischen ambienter Dröhnung und erzählerischen Soundkollagen changierenden Werks. “Results blended instrument recordings, found sounds, synthesis, and field recordings, all recorded direct to tape and mixed manually on diy multi-track reel-to-reels, collages of patchwork tapes glued together, or ultra-long unyielding static loops”. Auf der Basis der Originalbänder wurde das Material von Stephan Mathieu neu gemastert. Das Album erscheint nun auf 3-LP, CD, 2-MC und zum Download.
Discourses of the Withered è la ripubblicazione del primo lavoro di Will Long, AKA Celer, che è stato realizzato nel 2008. Originariamente disponibile solo in formati autoprodotti, oggi il disco si presenta in un triplo LP (o CD o doppia audiocassetta) grazie all’etichetta Two Acorns, che lo propone in una nuova masterizzazione.
Ci sono tutti i temi sonori ed estetici che abbiamo imparato a conoscere nella lunga carriera di musicista ambient di Will Long, come per esempio nel recente e riuscito Malaria: la manipolazione di lunghi droni e loop morbidi caratterizzati da un senso di nostalgia quasi esotico combinati con field recordings e suoni trovati. Qui il lavoro è stato tutto condotto a mano, in formati analogici, che prevedevano l’uso di bobine di nastri e il mixaggio manuale. Puro artigianato ambient.
Sorti originellement en 2008, Discourses Of The Withered se voit réédité en version remastérisée, offrant ainsi une seconde vie à un album stellaire, aux ambiances éthérées renversantes.
Formé à l’origine par Danielle Baquet et Will Long, Celer est devenu par la suite le projet solo de ce dernier. Avec Discourses Of the Whitered, le duo nous entraine dans un conglomérat de nuances flottantes, nourries de field recordings et de nappes suspendues.
Les sept titres forment un tout apaisant, traversant des zones relaxante aux lumières vacillantes, empreintes d’or laissées sur des surfaces immaculées.
Invitation à la méditation et à l’introspection, Discourses Of the Withered (Remastered) est une oeuvre captivante de par sa simplicité sensorielle et son minimalisme reposant. Magique.
One of the most basic functions of music means it’s a barrier to other sounds, all the other noises bombarding us from every conceivable direction. That might be the birds, the weather, the traffic, but more usefully, the news or notifications from elsewhere… Sometimes we turn the music up or put headphones on to escape all this clutter. Just you, and whatever you chose to do, with music as the central event. Music floods your ears and washes through your brain…
Music as an escape has perhaps never been more helpful, than in these last few years. A global pandemic, here in Scotland the shambles of Brexit, a harsh Winter and a panic over the rising cost of everything means reality often just feels a little too realistic. Any simple means of being elsewhere or any brief reprieve from these sobering times is hugely welcome.
After a particularly gloomy few weeks, the sun is now just high enough to flood our work space at OBLADADA. Late afternoon beams ignite tiny little dust particles in the air. Soundtracking this lower-case marvel was the throbbing mass of The Carved God Is Gone; Waking Above The Pileus Clouds from Celer’s album Discourses of the Withered.
Contradicting that fundamental idea within music labelled ambient to enmesh with other sounds, this layered wave blotted out everything. An out of focus peak of filmic emotion seeping out of the air. It’s the sound of an orchestra in fractals, millions of strings overlaid into a thick nebulous paste. It’s electronically processed sound of something that feels fleeting, made monumental.
This epic ebb and flow, gives way to the sounds of voices, agitation and distant street sounds before eventually regathering into an even more densely layered version of itself. It’s 13-minute life span quickly looping into 26 and 39 minutes as we hit replay, as the music regenerates itself towards dusk…
Discourses of the Withered, originally released in 2008, and, in newly remastered form is 80 minutes and 3 LPs worth of hanging, memory laden episodes. The sleeve perfectly captures the music like a series of journeys from various A to B’s, where clouds of field recordings and new spaces creep over the horizon. Shadows and twinkling lights all slowly rise and fall…
Stargazing Lily Lacks The Flower throbs in pure energy, whilst Retranslating the Upside-down Mountain stutters and pulses. In truth the album gets lost in a blissful vagueness that makes any sense of each of its 7 tracks not hugely important to dissect. But rather than suggest this album is little more than sonic wallpapering, it’s a space to live in and allow yourself to relax in its formless vastness, some sort of magnetism starts to take hold, then eventually – complete magnetic immersion.
Celer is a project that we’ve followed keenly in the last few years, but this earliest phase is new to our ears. At this stage, the project was a collaboration between husband and wife – Will Long and Danielle Basquet. A little background research reveals Basquet, tragically passed away the year after this album which somehow makes everything here even more intangible and glorious.
Add to this, the news more recently that Long announced the now vast Celer project has now infact concluded. The lingering feeling with Discourses of the Withered isn’t dominated by darkness, but gathers into an epic form of poetic beauty.
A journeys end point, looping back to the very beginning.
Stirring and deeply beautiful stuff.
These massive blocks of music have been waiting for review for some time, but I found it hard to get around to them. Travelling, a change of scenery seems an excellent time to work on them. Right now, I’m on a train and listening to the noise of the train moving. I’m thinking about Celer and thinking of a few questions I have. When was the first time I heard the music of Celer, back then a duo of Will Long & Danielle Baquet-Long, who sadly passed away in 2009, following which it became Will’s solo project (and, apparently, ended in 2022; for when was the last time I heard it, well, before this massive set, obviously. I’m not in a situation to find out quickly. I took all ten (or, rather, 14 CDs (some are double releases) with me, on my laptop, to listen to in all the relatively unquietness of train travel. Maybe it is entirely wrong to do this, as the music’s delicate nature requires good speakers and a music-friendly environment. In the past two weeks, I heard them as part of my early morning routine. I recounted this before; when I get up, I read the morning paper, drink a coffee and want to have some music unrelated to what I m doing, i.e. writing music reviews. To start the day without ‘work’. From the previous occasions that I heard Celer’s music, and I heard quite a lot, I know this music does this job very well. Provide a quiet backdrop, the perfect definition of listening and non-listening, ignoring and enjoying. That is not to say that the fourteen hours of this album are long and contain the same music. It is related, and yet, also a bit different. I played one CD daily, thinking I should make notes, which I didn’t do, and lost my way early on. What did I hear? There is definitely that classic Celer sound, the long-form, unchanging, minimalist sound work, sitting next to music that is deeply covered in reverb, maybe a bit too much, and some work that is not unlike a more ambient industrial approach. What, where and when? I lost my way, indeed. I hadn’t heard any of these discs before, as they were all ‘self-released’ in the duo’s earliest years, and none of these made it to Vital Weekly. As such, it is, for me, a further exploration of music I already know, I long cherish, and which, at least with my reviewer’s hat, I’d say there is already a lot of music by Celer available. I know that a re-issue like this may feel likea heavy burden for collectors, but I am sure none of these earliest releases are easily found these days. Plus, what I also find interesting is that these discs aren’t all about one long piece per disc. Some of these have shorter pieces in which Celer explores their themes in a similar yet concise form, and it’s great to see that it works very well in such a time frame. It is a massive release of spacious music.
Given Celer’s incredibly voluminous discography, releasing any kind of comprehensive retrospective would be one hell of a quixotic and cost-prohibitive endeavor, but this collection does the next best thing. Weighing in at 14 discs spanning 10 albums, this boxed set celebrates an especially significant and prolific era in the project’s evolution: the self-released albums that Will Long and the late Danielle Baquet-Long (Chubby Wolf) recorded as a duo before the latter’s passing in 2009. Not all of them, mind you, but this collection seems to at least cover the ones that matter most. Given that Celer is based in Japan and Bandcamp was still in its formative stages back then, I suspect very few people were hip enough to pounce on the duo’s early CD-Rs at the time of their original release, but they world definitely began to take notice soon after, as I remember Celer albums being a very hot commodity sometime around 2008/2009 when they started getting widely re-released. Unsurprisingly, there are some remastered fan favorites from that era included here, such as Continents and Cantus Libres, but I have grown so accustomed to Long’s current elegantly minimalist dream-drone aesthetic that I was legitimately surprised by the wider palette of moods and atmospheres explored at the project’s inception. Naturally, the gorgeously warm ambient dreamscapes that Celer has long been synonymous with are still the main draw here, but they are not the only draw, as I found it very illuminating to revisit the less-remembered noirish and sci-fi-inspired sides of the duo’s exploratory beginnings.
This collection is only being released as a limited edition physical boxed set, which makes a lot of sense for a couple of big reasons. The mundane one is that all of these albums are already readily available in remastered form, so this retrospective is very much for the project’s more devoted fans. The more poetic and heartfelt reason is that this boxed set is essentially a memorial to the Dani era and music was merely one facet of the duo’s artistic vision. Obviously, the music is the biggest and most relevant reason for Celer’s continued appeal, but the project has always been something of a multimedia love story/travel diary as well, as the accompanying images and texts often provided important context, clues, and deeper shades of meaning. In fact, I sincerely doubt that Celer would have made such a deep impression if Will and Dani had not found a way to make ambient/drone music feel like something personal and intimate (a feat very few others have achieved). Consequently, making this a collection a physical object with all of Dani’s poems and photos intact seems like the only proper way to celebrate the duo’s shared story. That said, nearly all of the texts, images, and song titles do tend to be teasingly enigmatic. In fact, they almost act like an inversion of the film/film score relationship, as they color my perception of the music without providing much actual information beyond a sense of place and an impressionist glimpse of how Will and Dani were feeling about both life and each other at the time. While I would probably love a Will Long memoir or travel diary, the decision to portray that period instead as an elusive, elliptical, and mysterious collection of dreamlike sounds, images, and words is admittedly the more alluring and Celer-esque path to take. Words and unambiguous meanings are cool and all, but struggling to express the ineffable is a beautiful and noble way to spend an artistic career.
As often happens with William Basinski’s similarly minimal work, it is easy to (wrongly) dismiss a lot of Celer’s work as a few simple loops endlessly repeating, but it seems more like a near-religious obsession with reaching towards the sublime to me. In fact, my favorite Celer pieces tend to be exactly those in which a single blurred and frayed melodic fragment is simply allowed to endlessly loop into infinity (or at least for 20 minutes or so). Obviously, progression and evolution have their place, yet distilling something beautiful to its absolute essence and straining towards the transcendent offers a more rare and exquisite pleasure than what I generally expect to get out of albums. When I hear a truly great Celer piece, I am reminded of the film at the heart of Infinite Jest that is so lethally compelling that no one can stop watching once it starts. In Celer’s case, there is instead a gift for crafting loops so gorgeous that I am perfectly content to let them hypnotically unfold forever without any transformation. When everything about a piece is already perfect, there is no valid reason to break that spell other than the inherent durational limits of physical media.
Needless to say, there are plenty of Celer pieces both new and old that achieve that illusion of an infinite, endlessly billowing heaven and those are usually the pieces that I am thinking of when I describe something as “Celer-esque.” However, spending an entire weekend absorbing this 14-disc retrospective has reminded me that there has been considerably more variety and experimentation with this project than I remembered. For example, this boxed set covers at most only two years of recordings and just from a compositional standpoint alone, there are albums comprised entirely of short pieces, albums comprised entirely of longform pieces, a single album-length track (Para’s “Leave Us Alone To Be Together”), and a collection of 22 brief loops intended to be played in a newly shuffled sequence every time (Voodoo Crowds).
There is quite a lot of stylistic variety as well, albeit exclusively within the realm of ambient drone. The pieces from Sunlir (first released in May 2006) in particular are especially varied and unique. For example, the opening “Spelunking The Arteries Of Our Ancestors” feels mostly like the Celer I know and love, yet also features an oscillating and sci-fi-damaged industrial thrum in its depths that provides an unfamiliar edge of psychotropic unease. Soon after, “How Long To Hold Up A Breathless Face” approximates a fragment of an orchestral film noir score that has been frozen in quivering suspended animation. Not long after, “Espy The Horizon, Miss The Long Road” seems to reprise that trick with a brooding and epic-sounding fantasy score. Elsewhere, “Whimsical At The Cretaceous Extinction” is probably the biggest Sunlir-era revelation, as it feels like a steadily intensifying cosmic shudder of futuristic menace. There are some dark surprises lurking on the other disks as well, however (albeit less frequently). For example, “Archival Footage of Only The Lost And Forgotten” from Scols resembles a time-stretched nightmare orchestra, while Continents’ hallucinatory “Fast Forwarding Sleep” evoked the “haunted ballroom” magic of The Caretaker years before most people had even noticed that The Caretaker existed. The phantasmal horror of “Brackish Nagas Too Low In The River” was yet another bombshell for me, evoking a supernatural howl of anguish that would have made a fine (if harrowing) score for 2001 or Solaris.
While I tend to gravitate towards the one-offs, outliers, and “roads less traveled” on this collection due to my reasonably strong familiarity with Celer’s usual oeuvre, I suspect complete familiarity with Celer’s discography is an unattainable state. In fact, I would be surprised if even Will Long remembered everything collected here. For example, I probably have somewhere around two dozen arguably well-chosen Celer albums in my collection (weighted heavily towards this era, no less), yet there were still plenty of classic pieces that I had not encountered before Selected Self-releases entered my life. There were also plenty of seemingly familiar pieces that made a deeper impression on me now that I have revisited them more than a decade after their original release. I have no idea how much of that shift is due to my evolving taste, the magic of remastering, or because I simply did not listen closely enough the first time around, but it feels I just unearthed a fresh treasure trove of hits regardless. In particular, I was enraptured by the smeared, hissing, and buzzing magic of Scols’ “Municipally, I Let It Slip,” much of Cantus Libres, some of Continents and Neon, “Sans Heavens, Hand In Hand,” and a handful of quivering feedback-gnawed pieces like Sadha’s “The Once Emptiness Of Our Hearts,” but that is by no means a comprehensive list.
My conservative estimate is that there are at least three or four hours of prime/classic Celer highlights to be found here, which is extremely damn impressive for a retrospective encompassing just two years of project that has nearly spanned two decades. Obviously, Will Long conjured this boxed set into existence primarily for Dani and Celer’s most ardent fans (only a hundred copies were made), yet this is the sort of retrospective that deserves to ripple outwards to turn new and casual fans onto some underheard gems from the early days. Obviously, there have been a healthy amount of stellar Celer releases in more recent years as well, but Selected Self-releases is a necessary reminder that Will and Dani were onto something wonderful and distinctive right from the start.
A bituiamoci a sentire il suono, non ascoltiamo semplicemente ma sentiamolo. Cerchiamo di assumerlo come fosse ossigeno respirandolo lentamente e lentamente permettendo all sua sostanza di invadere ogni parte del nostro organismo, anche le piu recondita. Non piu dissertazioni tecniche, confronti, pareri ma utili e improrogabili diserzioni, fughe nel mondo della purezza e del racconto, lo stesso che il loop costante innescato da Will Long in arte Celer, musicista scrittore e fotografo americano che ha scelto il Giappone come casa, inizia a diffondere. Disponiamo di quaranta minuti un tempo definiti ambient, nei quali tuffarci raggiungendo il nucleo di questo loop infinito. Viaggiamo leggeri ma terribilmente carichi di materia percettiva che pieno piano inizia ad espandersi riuscendo a tradurre le magnifiche ondate iterative in racconto, in pensiero, in immagine. In Coral Sea, Celer supera se stesso e durante una apparentemente lucente traccia ambient, riesce a raggiugere vette di grandiosa profondita intimista. Sentiamola quindi, trasformiamoci in essenza, mentre il pensiero vola a sfiorare le parole scritte da Allen Ginsberg: Il peso del mondo e amore. Sotto il fardello di solitudine sotto il fardello dell’insoddisfazione il peso che portiamo e amore.
Lange Drones in subtiler Bestform, hat jemand Celer gerufen? Natürlich darf Will Longs Projekt an dieser Stelle nicht fehlen, schon gar nicht wenn es endlich mal wieder auf Vinyl erscheinen darf wie das delikate Sunspots (Oscarson/Two Acorns, 26. November) nun in deutlich erweiterter Form. Wobei sich hier der jüngst beobachtete Trend zurück zu kürzeren Stücken fortsetzt. Kein Track über zehn Minuten, und doch jeder gegen die Unendlichkeit schwebend.
Empfindungen und Wahrnehmung, rationale Erklärungen sollte man für «Sunspots» nicht anführen wollen. Das neuste Album von Will Long als Celer ist erneut eine zurückhaltende und auf wenige Elemente reduzierte Arbeit. Seine Herangehensweise bei Ambient basiert auf Empathie und Gefühl, elektronische Klänge direkt aus der Seele. Weite Texturen und warm wirkende Flächen sind bei den zwölf Tracks die Architektur, Klänge überlagern sich wie beim Spiel mit dem Kaleidoskop. Zwar fusst alles auf erlebten Moment des Musikers Dasein, funktioniert ohne diese Zusammenhänge trotzdem.
Beats gibt es keine, die Electronica von Celer badet die Umgebung in goldenes Licht. Ähnlich wie bei der letzten Platte «In Light Of Blues» ist der Zugang zur Musik im ersten Moment nicht einfach, es passiert theoretisch nichts. Wie eine Kunstarbeit umgarnen die Stücke, «Inexorable, Every Night» etwa als Decke und Reiz zugleich. Oder «I’m Not Getting Up» mit seinem rebellischen Namen, das allerdings die Wirkung von Sorgen und Melancholie in sich trägt. Am Ende ist die Hoffnung wieder als Begleitung zurück, «Left In a Sunny Stupor» ist Akzeptanz der persönlichen Sorgen und Hindernisse.
Mit «Sunspots» werden Zweifel beseitigt und schwierige Wochen im Leben als Grundlage für eine positive Zukunft genutzt. Fragmente und zerstückelte Träume werden zu einem neuen Ganzen, die Synthesizer lassen im Nebelmeer die Sonne sanft scheinen und mit jeder Minute versinkt man mehr im Album. Celer versteht es, die Seele zu streicheln und liefert erneut eine Platte der schönen Zurückhaltung ab.