Info

Nacreous Clouds

Nacreous Clouds

Format: CD
Label: Two Acorns
Catalog: 2A14
Release date: 8/15/18

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Track list:
1 80,000 Feet
2 Taking Measures Toward Morning
3 Cherry Souls Awakening
4 Scarfs, Blisters And Night Lights
5 Artificial Colours
6 Swift And Ersatz Cough To Morning
7 Fathom This Young Life
8 Metal Master
9 Diphenhydramine
10 Sluggish In The Morning
11 Seeing; That Side Of Teaching
12 Mi
13 Peak Pressure
14 Rain Machines
15 Voiceless Devilfish
16 Swarms Of Orange
17 The Divine Is Not Invisible
18 Passing Hills And Still Windmills
19 Petrified Forest
20 Ice Deserts Over Ross Island
21 Scratch The Chest Of Your Voices
22 Blind Darsan
23 Missed Language
24 Late Calms
25 “To Be Holy, Be Wholly Your Own”
26 Hyperopia
27 Right To Left
28 A Minor Echolocation
29 We Were Blond First
30 The Stars Are Only Smears
31 Orionne
32 5:59 AM
33 Ends Meet
34 Mass Clouds
35 Till The Clouds Roll By
36 Apricot Sunrise
37 Echelons

Release description:
Polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs), also known as “nacreous clouds”, are found in the winter polar stratosphere at altitudes of 15,000–25,000 metres (50,000–80,000 ft). Due to their high altitude and the curvature of the surface of the Earth, these clouds will receive sunlight from below the horizon and reflect it to the ground, shining brightly well before dawn or after dusk. PSCs form at very low temperatures, below −78 °C. These temperatures can occur in the lower stratosphere in polar winter. In the Antarctic, temperatures below −88 °C frequently cause type II PSCs. Such low temperatures are rarer in the Arctic. Apart from arctic regions, PSCs have also been known to be seen in Scandinavia, Iceland, Alaska and Northern Canada. Sometimes, however, they occur as far south as England.

“Nacreous Clouds”, created using tape loops and digital processing, is Celer’s third album to be released on a label, and was originally issued in 2008 on and/OAR in a CD edition of 300 copies. To coincide with the 10-year release anniversary, it has been remastered by Stephan Mathieu, and is presented with new artwork and packaging, reissued on Two Acorns.

Playback using the random shuffle mode, repeat, or sequential play of your CD player is highly recommended.

Press reviews:

Nonpop
Celer, das seit 2005 aktive Ambient-Projekt des US-stämmigen Multitalentes WILL LONG, war bereits des öfteren Gegenstand von Besprechungen auf dieser Seite, weshalb auf weitschweifige Einführungen zur Abwechslung einmal verzichtet sei. LONG, der 2016 und 2018 mit zwei fulminanten Deep-House-Alben unter seinem bürgerlichen Namen überraschte, gründete und betrieb CELER gemeinsam mit seiner Frau DANIELLE BAQUET, bis diese 2009 im Alter von nur 26 Jahren verstarb. Seitdem führt er das Projekt alleine fort und hat die interessierte Öffentlichkeit bis heute mit einer schier unüberschaubaren Fülle von Veröffentlichungen geflutet – discogs etwa listet zum Zeitpunkt der Niederschrift dieser Besprechung bemerkenswerte 124 Alben auf. Beim vorliegenden Werk “Nacreous Clouds” nun handelt es sich um eine remasterte Neuauflage des 2008 beim US-Ambient/Environmental-Label and/OAR erschienen Albums gleichen Titels, das LONG damals noch gemeinsam mit seiner kongenialen Ehefrau eingespielt hat – auf seinem eigenen Label TWO ACORNS reüssiert es jetzt sozusagen als “10th-anniversary-release”.

Angesichts einer Veröffentlichungsrate mit dermaßen hoher Taktung wie der CELER’schen bleibt ein gewisser Wiederholungsfaktor naturgemäß nicht aus – zumal in einem eo ipso eher strukturarmen Sektor wie dem Ambient-Genre –, dennoch dürfte es kaum strittig sein, dass CELER in dieser Hinsicht nochmal mit Verve einen obendraufsetzt: gehässige Zungen mögen hier einen massiven Redundanzfaktor bekritteln, wohlmeinendere Zeitgenossen erkennen hingegen das bewusst intendierte Stilmittel, welches konstitutiv für die Programmatik des Unternehmens CELER im Ganzen ist – und “Nacreous Clouds” bildet in dieser Hinsicht nichts weniger als eine Ausnahme, sondern steht einmal mehr pars pro toto für das musikalische Schaffen des Wahl-Japaners WILL LONG unter seinem CELER-Moniker, will heißen: Ultra-kontemplative, monoton an- und abschwellende, spartanisch konzipierte, drone-artige Soundschleifen, so weit der Gehörgang reicht. Im Unterschied zu den meisten anderen frühen Veröffentlichungen, die nur höchst selten mit Track-Laufzeiten unterhalb der Zehn-Minuten-Marke auskamen, umfasst “Nacreous Clouds” indes stolze 37 (!) Titel (deshalb diesmal auch keine Einzelauflistung!) mit durchschnittlichen Laufzeiten zwischen anderthalb und drei Minuten, was nach einiger Zeit, bedingt durch die ausgeprägte Gleichförmigkeit der Stücke, allerdings kaum noch auf-, geschweige denn ins Gewicht fällt. Wie immer bleibt zu konstatieren: Ohne Frage ein wunderbarer Soundtrack für meditative Zwecke sowie die ideale Hintergrundbeschallung während stiller Beschäftigungen wie Lesen oder Schreiben, da hier lediglich reine Atmosphäre ohne das geringste ablenkende Moment generiert wird. Der Titel des Albums leitet sich übrigens von einem meteorologischen Phänomen, nämlich den Polaren Stratosphärenwolken, her, die auch unter dem bestrickenden Namen Perlmuttwolken (engl. nacreous
clouds) bekannt sind und – nomen est omen – vornehmlich in den winterlichen Polarregionen in Höhen von über 20 km auftreten. Die bisweilen spektakuläre, perlmuttartige Färbung, der sie ihren Namen verdanken, resultiert aus der Brechung des Sonnenlichtes an den Eis-und Schwefelsäurekristallen, aus denen sie im wesentlichen bestehen.

Das nur als kleines Bildungsbonbon am Rande, soll schließlich keiner behaupten, hier könne man nichts lernen. – Laut CELERs Bandcamp-Präsenz erscheint “Nacreous Clouds” übrigens im “4-panel, reverse board ecopack CD package” – ob das nun bedeuten soll, dass man es am End’ auch guten ökologischen Gewissens einfach wegschmeißenkann, sei diskret dahingestellt. Von Limitierungen ist jedenfalls nichts bekannt, insofern …

Fazit: Mit “Nacreous Clouds” liegt eine Wiederveröffentlichung vor, die das Herz des bekennenden CELER-Freundes mit Sicherheit charmieren wird, wenn sie dem ausufernden Oevre des Projektes auch kein Jota hinzuzufügen weiß, das nicht schon x-mal durchdekliniert worden wäre – doch was soll’s, wenn’s gefällt? Und das tut es. Auch der Neueinsteiger in den CELER-Kosmos kann hier bedenkenlos zugreifen, denn “Nacreous Clouds” vermittelt einen absolut repräsentativen Eindruck von dessen Essenz im besten Sinne. Dringend vom Kauf abgeraten sei freilich all den innovations- und sensationssüchtigen Abwechslungsfanatikern, die so zahllos durch unsere irrlichternde “Informationsgesellschaft” taumeln; dergleichen kurzatmigen Hektikern kann man nur entgegenhalten: “Bitte gehen Sie weiter, hier gibt es nichts zu sehen.” – Dass gerade DAS der Witz ist, verstehen die eh nicht.

Chain D.L.K.
When it was first released in 2008, back when Celer was a duo rather than a solo project, the recommendation that you should listen to this album using the random shuffle function on your CD player would present no problems. With digital downloads now dominant many new listeners to this remastered re-issue may find it easier just to listen sequentially, but the net result is the same.

This is a collection of thirty-seven short related ambiences, super-gentle chord beds and slow melodic drones, ranging in length from under a minute to just over five minutes, resulting in the CD-friendly 79-minute total. The ebb and envelope of each track is such that the silences inbetween tracks feel like part of the whole, and the result, regardless of listening order, sounds like one coherent 79-minute work. Individual track labels mostly feel irrelevant, but there are colder sections like the glassy tones of “Petrified Forest”, distant mechanical-sounding hums in “Hyperopia”, grouped with warmer and somehow friendlier-sounding hums in tracks like “Echelons”. But all the differences are subtle, to put it mildly.

It’s a mesmeric, sleep-playlist-friendly work and while copies of the original 300-strong 2008 edition are not that hard to find, it’s a welcome remastering that should hopefully find a wider audience.

Badd Press
Ten years after its original release, Celer’s Nacreous Clouds is proof positive of the timeless nature of finely crafted drone recordings. This welcome reissue is also notable for the first-rate remastering effort turned in by Stephan Mathieu.

The and/OAR label printed 300 copies of the 80-minute LP back in 2008. In those days, Celer was a husband-and-wife duo: Will Long and Danielle Baquet. Together they turned a series of tape loops and a bit of digital processing into an evolving sonic patchwork.

Unlike lengthy works like Brian Eno’s celebrated Thursday Afternoon, Nacreous Clouds features 37 short pieces. Hit the shuffle button and it’s a different experience virtually every time.

The lush serenity of this album stood in stark contrast to the world it was delivered into. A decade ago we watched a financial crisis of global proportions play out in the final months of George W. Bush’s U.S. presidency. A mix of poor policymaking and plain old-fashioned greed led to a world-wide slump that we’re still feeling the effects of.

Its scope was unimaginable. No-one could say with any confidence how bad things would get. I asked an executive I was working for at the time what he thought of the whole thing. “Kevin,” he said with complete seriousness, “it’s like we’re peering over the edge of a cliff.”

Amidst all of that, this beautiful, calming work of art came along to remind us that not all would be lost. No matter the headlines, no matter the bank statements, talented artists like Long and Baquet could still make the world a better place.

Toneshift
I probably still have my original copy of the earlier version on Dale Lloyd’s amazing Seattle-based and/OAR imprint (circa 2008), but instead of comparing/contrasting, I am listening to this anew a decade later. This was one of the final projects for Celer when Will Long‘s then wife, Danielle Baquet, was involved as a duo prior to her untimely passing at age 26 in 2009 – now reserved as a solo project for the ex-pat American composer living in Japan. Their sound was uniquely refreshing in the ambient world, seemed new somehow to my ears. With the ample usage of processed tape loops Long recommends playing this on shuffle, so the sequencing is open-ended, and I can appreciate that as a lover of all things Fluxus.

So this ten year anniversary since the original release has seen an onslaught of field recordists, the advent of Bandcamp, the re-re-re-emergence of ambient and drone artists like never before — so how does this stand up these days? Let’s go into the stratosphere and find out. There are 37 tracks here, just as on the original, and with my iTunes on random…..

Scarfs, Blisters and Night Lights comes up first, and it’s as if a spotlight is rotating to capture something by the sea, something in the murky depths. It’s a bit unsettled, and like many of these very short snippets, flows well into Metal Master, even though it was track four and this is track eight. There’s a layer of calm in the ambient detachment here. Very similar to the slow pace of Passing Hills and Still Windmills, layered between tones and drones. I force the next track, Peak Pressure, to play because I want to experience something lengthier, and at just over five minutes this is it. A bit of low range modulation makes for a segregated dreamscape. That because the furl is sticking to its corner. I’d imagine losing a loved one, in hindsight, would make one lose themselves in the clouds – and I can see why it might be timely to take a look back to move forward.

The atmosphere runs from warm to icy, moreso the latter, throughout, although not heavily relying on too many effects, there seems like a simplistic purity to the playing here. It’s emotional and engaging, fleeting and human. There seems to be some understanding of rural sensibilities, something divorced from the chaos of the big city, a feeling of calm, the rare type it takes to make a garden grow. They seem to get the importance of pace, and in their way it’s got a very meditative aura (To Be Holy, Be Wholly Your Own, Ice Deserts Over Ross Island). Then there are pieces like A Minor Echolocation which are more like a harmonica around a campfire with a quieted group of friends, and the glints of light and smoulder –  its like an abstract, lyric-less folk song.

There are several tracks named after clouds, and it gives you the impression that the two may have appreciated a staycation, camping from their cozy spot on earth, watching the clouds pass. It doesn’t necessarily become a romantic scenario, moreso an artistic fusion of thoughts like the meteorological masses themselves. The record uses waves of pitch to move it along, after a while there’s shoegaze ambient impression that echoes even as each vignette passes, just like those clouds, up, up and away – into the ether.

Vital Weekly
Last week I mentioned the first time I wrote about Machinefabriek and how many times I used music by him in the podcast. This will not turn into a weekly feature, but here I mention it again but in connection with Celer, of whom I used 25 bits in the podcast and thus probably reviewed a little more than that. There is also good reason to mention this as here we have ‘Nacreous Clouds’, which is a re-issue and it happened to be the very first time Celer was mentioned in these pages, all the way back in Vital Weekly 645. I am not sure why this is re-issued, although my best guess would it was unavailable for some time. I would think Celer is a highly productive entity so there is always something new to release. On ‘Nacreous Clouds’ Celer was a duo of Danielle Baquet-Long and Will Long and of course you know that Baquet-Long passed away in 2009, following that it is now a solo project. (…) Now, ten or so years later and hearing so many other works by Celer (which is far from their entire output), it’s quite interesting to hear this again; especially the short format of the pieces is something they didn’t do a lot since, so I believe, and while each of the thirty-seven pieces as an individual title, it is very well possible to experience all of this as one long work, cut into various shorter bits, ranging from a mere minute to several, each like a cloud passing in the sky; that is not today, which is a bit greyish and no wind, but somehow the moody textures of Celer seem to fit very well this kind of weather and just like the first time I heard it, I can safely say: my kind of weather. For those interested if there is a difference between the two versions, I am very happy to report that this is a remastered version, expertly done by Stephan Mathieu (who is in the process of making his mastering work into a proper business; I should be independent of course, but he seems the right for this kind of music).

Blow Up
E una ristampa fatta per festeggiarne il decimo compleanno, cosi “Nacreous Clouds” (nubi madreperlacee) torna sulla terra con un piccolo vagito. L’opera di Celer (duo composto dall’ormai ex coppia Danielle Baquet e Will Long) riletta dieci anni dopo non e solo un’operazione nostalgia e il venire a patti col il rimpianto, il dolore, un presentimento infinito ma una sentila reinterpretazione della visione; musica contemplativa, ancella di una natura indifferente come i suoi fenomeni, le nubi madreperlacee per l’appunto, l’elemento mancante del film Ten Skies di James Benning.

Groove
Will Long und sein langlebiges Tape-Ambient Projekt Celer sind immer wiederkehrende Favoriten dieser Kolumne. Vor allem natürlich weil Celer unmissverständlich für eine warme und organische Variante von mit Field Recordings unterfüttertem Drone steht, der beharrlich in leicht bittersüßer Schönheit schwelgt und sich zudem so stringent und konsequent einfach gibt, dass beim Hören jedes Zeitgefühl aufgehoben wird. Ein erfreulicher Nebenaspekt sind die wohlüberlegten, mal clever ironischen bis sarkastischen, mal melancholisch in sich gekehrten Album- und Tracktitel, bei denen der Kolumnist sogar hin wieder neue englische Wörter lernen kann. Wie etwa bei Nacreous Clouds (Two Acorns) was “perlmuttartig schimmernde Wolken” meint und den Charakter dieses Reissues einer extrem limitierten Veröffentlichung von 2008 kongenial wiedergibt. Es war eines der letzten Celer-Alben an dem Longs 2009 verstorbene Ehefrau Danielle Baquette-Long beteiligt war und dem sie ihre Neigung zu etwas experimentelleren und fordernden Sounds mitgegeben hat. Ein Highlight und eine hochwillkommene Wiederveröffentlichung.