Two days and one night is another one on the pile of “sad Celer albums”. The past year has seen some of his most brutal, with How could you believe me when I said I loved you when you know I’ve been a liar all my life casting the memory of a Midwest road-trip as a collection of deliciously mournful tape-loops, as well as the recent re-press of I love you so much I can’t even title this, which for those familiar with the history of Will Long may as well be called “press play to cry”.
But where previous albums have tended to be quite abstract – the lush drone pieces only really opening themselves up to misery in the context of an album title or paired story – Two days and one night is more specific. The album reflects on Celer’s trip to Tunisia, where he retraced the final steps of a great uncle who drowned off the coast. Long presents this as a narrative: steadily moving his pieces towards the sea and an eventual contemplation of death. An extended recording straddles “Spindles and fire” to “Sol Azur”, its Tunisian accented French bleeding like over-inked paper into lush, sun-drenched drones. It evokes both the scorched air of Tunisia and an early sense of unease as the ending looms. When the scene is set, the music quietens, resurging somewhat for “In all deracinated things” but reducing to a lone recording of waves with “The fear to touch the sand”. In these points of simplicity, the artist displays enough restraint to let listeners set their own scenes. I can’t help but imagine what it might be like to sit and stare at the sea which claimed a loved one. Surprisingly the album is not overtly sad, but instead ambiguous, as these moments often are.
I recently attended a friend’s memorial service, and afterwards took a long walk around the place he grew up. Being there – both happy and sad, consumed by death yet very much alive – helped me to understand just how impressive Two days and one night really is. The album reflects the experience perfectly, yet with such personal and geographically situated sounds it is unmistakably Celer’s own. It contains enough universal feeling to inspire sympathy, but just as Will followed in the footsteps of his uncle, we must follow in his. The album cannot be separated from the sun-soaked tiles and peaceful ocean, presented here with a mature and graceful empathy fit for a man who’s been recording for over a decade. We face loss through his learned eyes and find a rare, intimate calm. (Jonny Hunter)