‘Voyeur’ in Tiny Mix Tapes Cerberus
The work of Will and Dani Long continues to stretch its willowed fingers into the next frontier, this time courtesy of Berlin-based Humming Conch. And much like the label from wince it came, Voyeur is an intimately aural affair that benefits from cusping the stereo speaker up against the ear and listening at a hushed volume. It whispers of airy waves and whistling breezes; the noise of silence. There are crests, as if playing with the proximity of the shell to the ear canal. This is a marriage of sheer perfection – an album that captures the beauty of every day, the electronic elegance of Berlin, and worldly melodies. And when I must dust the sand out of my pants after each listen, Voyeur proves an oasis in the middle of suburbia needed in times such as ours. I scavenge shells in its absence in hopes of recreating its real world symphonics. Alas, it cannot top this…
‘Zigzag’ preview video
‘Zigzag’ video premiere in Decoder Magazine
Celer‘s paced but prolific stream of drone music has been a consistence source of elegant and elegiac melancholia since the project’s inception in 2005. Nearly a decade later, the Tokyo-based project now helmed solely by Will Long continues its run of distant yet personal tone music while adding an element of rhythm to the mix, a surprisingly risky change to a seemingly perfected formula. While seeing the word “rhythm” associated with Celer might be a shock, this is more of a tidal rhythm played with a minimalist’s hand. As Long explains, quite simply, “Several years ago while living in the United States, I became interested in the minimalist music of the 1960′s and 1970′s, and new wave of the early 1980′s, with the steady pulses, the constant harmonies, and endless continuity.”
Long’s resulting experiment is a dynamic piece of drone music that somehow heightens the forlorn movements while simultaneously keeping the frigidly static scenery we’ve come to expect (and personally, demand) from Celer. Although the “digest” version available is less than two-minutes long, the tones capture the depth and creaking beauty of the full, 49-minute piece.
But there’s also a more personal element at play. After much delay, Zigzag‘s fruition coincided with Long hearing his first child’s heartbeat via ultrasound, and everything fell into place. As Long explains, “It seemed like such a fateful connection between the baby and the music. When new life begins, everything points toward the future.” Preorder Zigzag (out 3/5/14) via Spekk’s Bandcamp as soon as you can. First orders come with a free limited edition, handmade packaged bonus album that’s available only when getting the CD.
Coming in early March is a new album titled Zigzag, on the Japanese label Spekk. This is a very special album for me, and and step in a different direction as well. The CD is packaged in a 170 x 145mm large & wide custom-made cardboard sleeves, and along with the first orders is Seesaw, a limited edition CDR album in a handmade package, available only with the purchase of the Zigzag album. Thank you for your support, and please don’t miss this special album.
Several years ago while living in the United States, I became interested in the minimalist music of the 1960′s and 1970′s, and new wave of the early 1980′s, with the steady pulses, the constant harmonies, and endless continuity. The music had a strong persistence, and while the listener can drift away from following it consciously, the rhythm stays grounded. In it there is something human, like a heartbeat.
At the time I had the idea to use this inspiration with my own music, giving the music a tempo, and a new pathway in a forward direction. I created Zigzag, and agreed to release the album through Spekk, but after several years, the project was delayed, and I went on to other projects, and the initial inspiration and concept disappeared.
In the summer of 2013, I found out that my wife and I would have our first child. Around this time, plans began to come together for the release of Zigzag. After missing the first few doctor’s appointments, I was finally able to attend, and for the first time heard the baby’s heartbeat. It seemed like such a fateful connection between the baby and the music. When new life begins, everything points toward the future.
- Will Long, 2014
‘Voyeur’ in Textura
An interesting backstory attends Celer’s latest release Voyeur, and it’s one that brings into clearer focus the at times foreboding ambiance of the album content. Apparently a few years ago Will Long was commissioned by a California-based film company to produce a score for a film inspired by Hitchcock’s 1954 film Rear Window, a key difference being that the projected film would include a two-sided viewer plot as opposed to the one in Hitchcock’s that centers on the perspective of the temporarily wheelchair-bound photographer L.B. Jefferies (played by Jimmy Stewart). Long created the material prior to the commencement of filming at home and at a studio in Silverlake, California, only to be told that the entire film project had been cancelled—despite the fact that the musical material had been completed a week before the first draft deadline.
That’s not all that’s curious about the release, which Berlin-based Humming Conch has issued in a run of 300 vinyl copies. Though the recording was made in March of 2008, it’s only now seeing the light of day as a soundtrack to a film never made. And unlike many a Celer release where one encounters long-form pieces of twenty-minute durations, Voyeur sequences eleven tracks into a thirty-four-minute presentation—though such an approach is consistent with soundtracks in general, where short musical pieces typically are composed with specific scenes in mind. Another interesting thing about the release is that Danielle Baquet-Long, Will’s late partner, is credited with vocals, but one must listen carefully to hear them as they’ve been incorporated into the opening and closing tracks as barely audible choral breaths.
Curious details aside, Voyeur is quintessential Celer in its skeletal drift of fragile, shimmering vapours and whistling, organ-like tones. But as mentioned, Voyeur also parts company with Celer music as it’s often presented, specifically in settings such as “Bitter Light and Anticipating a Day Heat (The Isolated)” and “Binoculars, a Telephone, and Fear (The Note)” where dissonance and darker tonalities emerge to lend the material a haunted and unsettled quality. In such moments, one imagines Voyeur could just as easily function as a modern-day soundtrack to Hitchcock’s Vertigo or (in its non-violent episodes, at least) Psycho as much as Rear Window. The inclusion of these darker passages also adds to the release in providing contrast to episodes like “Intermission (Afternoon, Don’t End)” and “Finale (After Midnight)” that are comparatively serene in character. Relatedly, Voyeur also suggests that film producers would be wise to consider Celer for future soundtrack commissions; it’s hard to think of any musical act more naturally capable of creating soundtrack material that’s suitably atmospheric and evocative without being overly intrusive.
‘Weak Ends’ in Foreign Accents
Will Long came out with over a dozen new releases this year under his Celer project, in keeping with his consistently stupefying output.
Celer has, for a while now, been my favorite modern ambient. I mentioned in my review of Eluvium’s Nightmare Ending that Eluvium evokes a feeling in me very specific to the ambience of the Pacific Northwest. Celer and Chubby Wolf, on the other hand (especially on great releases like Menggayakan, The Low, the Sows, and Discourses of the Withered) often evoke a sense of wonder at the world, the traveler’s sense of awe and gratitude. It is fitting, since after all both Danielle Baquet-Long (who unfortunately passed away a few years ago, if you don’t know the story) and Will Long were something of a pair of nomadic artist-academicians, to my understanding.
According to Long’s bandcamp, Weak Ends was influenced by a trip to Okinawa last summer. The work is a single lulling loop that repeats for about 30 minutes (not too long, not too short) with little variation. Warm sheets of synthesizers bring a tranquil scene of an afternoon on a Japanese beach to life. It is a fine ambient release that has earned a respectable place in the Celer discography and is no doubt one of the best Celer releases this year. Put it on when you’re doing dishes, trying to fall asleep, meditating, whatever you like– this is great ambient.
A few years ago I was commissioned by a film company in California to create a musical score for a film inspired by the Hitchcock 1954 film Rear Window, but with a more surrealist, two-sided viewer plot. As filming hadn’t begun, I was given the screenplay and timeline, and asked to make specific music that might fit with the themes in those pages, which also included an overture, intermission, and exit music. I recorded the music at home and in a studio provided by the film company in Silverlake, California, and finished a week before the first draft deadline was to be submitted. Surprisingly, before I even delivered any of the music, I was informed that the entire project was cancelled. Several years later, the score for the film of the same title is finally seeing the light of day. It is available on vinyl in an edition of 300 copies by the Berlin label Humming Conch and the Humming Conch Shop.
Hollywood Dream Trip – Would You Like To Know More?
Hollywood Dream Trip – Would You Like To Know More?
When I first met Christoph Heemann, it was during a tour of his in the United States when I happened to be staying at my family’s home, so after being introduced by our mutual friend Nicholas Szczepanik, I drove over to see the show and meet him and another mutual friend, Rick Reed. I wasn’t working, so luckily I was able to stay in the same place as Christoph in San Antonio, which was actually a giant mansion that you’d imagine belonged to Vito Corleone. It was in a rural suburban area of San Antonio, with these rolling desert hills and scratchy dry plants, about 20 different rooms, and a full outdoor speaker system. I had with me a CDR of a 20 minute loop that I had made a few weeks before, and at that time gave it to Christoph as some beginning of source material, though at the time I actually didn’t even have that in mind. In the evening after dark I took a walk through the neighborhood, and much to my surprise the group who were staying at the house by a fire in the backyard decided to play my CDR, at nearly full volume. Under the starry sky, it seemed like the planet was rolling, and the house was going to explode and shoot into the sky. I’m sure that 20 minutes probably woke up the entire neighborhood for miles around. Available on LP from Drag City.
‘Climbing Formation’ in Touching Extremes
The 2013 Yule soundtrack in the house has been four tracks of warmly soothing, nearly motionless soundscapes, somehow circumscribed by two contrasting descriptions of flight condition in the record’s presentation. One is by Will Long himself; the other (dated 1960) by an older namesake, perhaps a relative, but we’re not sure. Both are characterized by highlighting the immenseness of what was being seen by the writers outside the aircraft. All of the above, executed and/or penned by someone else, might have risked sounding like some kind of ethereal cliché. Not when Celer is involved, though: the improbably productive current Tokyo resident (who, incidentally, is soon becoming a dad – best wishes!) has a real knack for lubricating the internal mechanics of an absorptive “evolved ambient” buff with extremely attenuated tones inside processes of minute-gradation changes. The relatively uncomplicated evolution of the whole is largely grounded, or “clouded” shall we say, on low-keyed washes of rather snug reiterative sequences disclosing beautiful tenuous tints, now and again reinforced by stronger components which – on a close inspection and by raising the volume – caused the looser ends of my room to tremble. This notwithstanding, the most important aspect lies in the soporifically rewarding “presence/absence” of this particular record, a nerve-numbing acoustic treat for meditative, or merely absent-minded settings. Climbing Formation may constitute an ideal choice for underscoring the unequivocal vaporization of the festive scents we used to experience as children and right after, nowadays entirely gone in soulless unconcern. And – what’s even badder – without an inch of yearning on this side.