Celer has always been an artist who can effortlessly dream up evocative drones and a deep-thought style of ambient introspection. Always refreshing, always vividly alive and constantly absorbing into the very atmosphere, Will Long’s music touches upon phantom shades and faint degrees, almost to the point of aural invisibility. Without Retrospect, the Morning, is no different than that of Long’s multiple releases, in that it is ambient music of the highest caliber, and yet it is a departure, for it contains his coldest music to date.
Created in 2009 while Long was working as a photographer in South Alberta, Canada, Without Retrospect, the Morning is cold to the touch, and just slightly under a sub zero temperature, but the diluted light saves it from becoming an icy tundra of drone. The early morning – late sunset sound was primarily recorded using two Sony Tapecorder open reels, an endless delay system and contact microphones, resulting in an unrivaled organic purity and depth. The weak light, and the quiet still of Winter, can be seen reflecting off sharp, crystal drones, as light as a white-whispered cloud sent up into the cold air, and Long’s stark crystals of ice are lightly glazed with a smooth flowing current of ambient air. “A Small Rush Into Exile” glows an almost eerie colour against the rising sun, silently transforming as strands of notes slowly rise up and over the crystal.
These drones are like shards of ice that have broken off and become displaced, removed from an original, wider structure. Will Long has been active enough for long enough to have perfected his source and his sound, and the inner musical momentum within the seven tracks is just right. The music almost seems to pour from concealed cracks in the ice, creeping out of the recording process in thin, cool channels that are able to warm their cold blood in the sun. Sub bass frequencies deepen the tone, as if pulled under a flurry of powdered, soft snow; this is the beautiful contrast, the deeper shell of clinking ice and the ethereal air above it. For the most part, the arrival of the bass is non-intrusive, instead of influencing the warmer air and dragging it downwards. The pure transparency of the drones offer plenty of temperate warmth and help to subdue any rough daggers of ice that may remain, glowing defiantly in dynamic swells in beautiful contours. Raise the atmosphere, if not the temperature, and this is due to the dimmed volume throughout the record, which only rises an inch above the white.
A gorgeous cover complements the clarity of the music – seeing the cover art is enough to produce shivers down the spine. Long’s restrained technique helps to focus in on the miniscule, where the true alterations occur; it is inside the tone, and its constant change, that really separates ambient musicians, and turns the music into a true art-form. These seven pieces don’t stray far from their source – there isn’t enough energy inside – yet they are always allowed the capacity to evolve at their own pace if they should wish to do so. The music is without a companion; the only survivor amid a solitary stretch of snow and ice, awakening to the fragile light of dawn.
Finally, “With Some Effort, the Sunset” emerges, shining above all of the previous six tracks, as vapour rises and the light descends. A lower frequency is more prominent, perhaps as the force of the sunset, quietly cooling and returning to what has been, fading for another day.
Celer’s music is in plentiful suppy, but ambience as smooth and as thoughtful as this is very difficult to find. Once it is found, it’s a sound we should treasure, and it ensures that Without Retrospect, the Morning is a stand-out release in an amazing discography. A shushed drift, the drone is only a thin slice of ice, lit by the morning, cool in her departure and born again on her rising. (James Catchpole)