Info

Xièxie

Xièxie

Format: 2CD, 2CS, 2LP
Label: Two Acorns
Catalog: 2A15
Release date: 1/25/19

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Track list:
1 (06.23.17) From the doorway of the beef noodle shop, shoes on the street in the rain, outside the karate school
2 Rains lit by neon
3 In the middle of the moving field
4 (06.26.17) Maglev at 303 km/h
5 Text me when you wake up
6 For the entirety
7 (06.24.17) Birds inside the high halls of Hangzhou, (06.23.17) Shanghai red line, metro karaoke
8-9 Prelude to obsession I & II
10 (06.26.17) Waiting in Hangzhou
11 Our dream to be strangers

Release description:
Phonetic script: Xièxie
Chinese characters: 谢谢
谢谢 ( xiexie / xièxie ) is composed of these characters: (xie) , (xie)
English translation: thank you, thanks
to say  |  to thank  |  literally means ‘thanks’. ‘Thank you’ in Chinese would be xièxie nĭ (if you thank an individual), or xièxie nĭmen (to say thank you to a group of people).

– Chinese -> English Dictionary

A week before leaving, I bought a dictionary and phrasebook.

Covered in rain, during the days and even the nights, Shanghai was lit in a glow, a mist turning to a constant grey fog. Buildings lined with neon and lcd screens flashed, and from around corners and behind buildings, the night was illuminated much the same as the day. Cars separated the classes, their horns voices punctuating the streets, as pedestrians in groups loosely scattered the streets, talking and walking on speakerphone.

Standing by the metro escalators, there in the square with the overhanging trees of a park, there is construction all around. The buildings seem to be climbing into the darkness at this very moment. Leaving behind and moving forward. We seem to know everything already, our illusion of experience. I imagine taking your hand, I imagined taking your hand, and the lights in the subway flicker as we go deeper. Transit bookmarks each experience, every daydream, and in the end they’re interchangeable and indistinguishable between reality and imagination. Try to remember which is real.

To Hangzhou the maglev reached 303 km/h, the towering apartment buildings hunch under construction, passing by in blurs on the flat farmland landscape. I fell asleep, as you were dancing but to no music. The lilies on the lake nodded in the rain, dipping into the water. There was a Wal-Mart near the hotel where I won a pink bunny from a claw machine. I remember the beauty of the architecture of Hangzhou station, birds swirling around the pillars near the top, the echoes of the deep station interior, and the laughing at being lost. There at least we have each other, that memory, or that daydream.

Everything moves faster than we can control. Days are just flashes, moments are mixed up but burned on film, and all of the places and times are out of order. If it could only be us, only ours. If it was ours, if it was us. Sometimes everything goes faster than you can control and you can’t stop, much less understand where you are. I bought a dictionary and phrasebook, but “xièxie” was the only word I ever got to use. 

– Will Long, January 2019

在出行前一個星期, 我買了中文字典和中文片語集。

上海到處都是下雨,不論白天還至是夜晚,雨在持續不斷的灰霧之下閃閃發光。我們參觀了外灘,關於未來的一切就像這種灰霧一樣渾濁。「現在抱緊我。」她說。抑或, 是我說過的話嗎? 汽車的喇叭聲是刺穿街道的聲音;而每當我們經過茶飲店時,我們停下來。

站在這裡的地鐵自動扶梯,或站在被公園包圍的廣場,現在它們看起來歷久常新。 我喜歡那些古舊,但我亦對嶄新的抱感興趣。 像我這樣的人都認為自己已經知道那些虛幻的經驗。 我無法理解,我無法理解自己。 我們看似不同,但我們將始終如一。 我現在想像牽著你的手,也曾想像過我牽著你的手。隨著我們走得越來越深入, 地鐵裡的燈光就閃爍不斷 。如果這些景象只能跟內裡的洞穴感配搭起來,那我就知道它不能持久,它是不能持久,是不能持久

抽煙的男人們在街上跟我們擦身而過,而我拍了幾張一包包香煙散留於地上的照片。 這就好像我們到處尋找一家沒有服務員將頭倒在桌面上睡覺的餐廳。 我們只是在下雨的城市漫步迷失,還是只是在性愛當中感到茫然? 樹木低垂在湖面上,它們在雨中哭泣。 但是我仍然可以在臉上感覺到雨中的薄霧,感覺到我們在雨傘外面手牽手,雙手依然保持濕潤。 所有這些瞬間中,即使你不在我身邊,但你常在我的腦海之中。 究竟, 幻像與現實之間的區別在哪裡?

杭州的磁懸浮列車的時速達到每小時303公里,它經過閃亮潮濕的跨省公路和高樓,在平坦的農田景觀中迷糊的流淌著。 你身在遙遠之地,但你如就在我身旁。 一切都比我們所能控制的走得更快。 那些日子就像是閃爍的光,那些不同的時刻混雜在一起, 但它們最終卻烙印在菲林之上; 而我們曾經擁用的地方和時間都已經失序, 已不合時宜。 如果這些只屬於我們,那就只屬於我們。 假設它曾經是屬於我們,假設它曾經是我們。 有時候一切都比你能控制的要快,你不能停下來,更不用說你能否了解你所在之處。

– translation by Edwin Lo

 

Package description:
Xièxie is available as a 2LP edition of 300 copies, 150 silver and 150 black, a 2CD, 6 panel package edition of 500 copies, and a 2CS oversized slipcase edition of 150 copies. Mastered by Stephan Mathieu. 

Press reviews:

Anhedonic Headphones
I started walking to work in the late fall, out of necessity.

The brakes went out in the car that I drove—had been driving since 2005, and the repairs it needed were entirely too expensive to take on for something having little to no value, and was barely being held together as it was.

During this time in our lives, what I had started calling ‘The Year of Silence,’ walking to work has not been an issue, or created much of an inconvenience for me. I used to come home on my lunch break, but at this point, it is not imperative that I do so; I can bring my lunch to work, and find some quiet part of the building to eat it in where, hopefully, no one will bother me.

We, thankfully, don’t live very far from where either my wife, or myself, work; for me, it takes roughly 15 minutes to get in the morning—sometimes a little longer on the way home.

The late fall, and into the beginning of winter, is not the best time to begin walking anywhere, really, but I found ways to make due with the drastic fluctuations in temperature—especially in the morning, before the sun rises, when it can be the most brisk.

At work, when my colleagues express concern over my walks—the length, the temperature outside, etc.—I tell them I do not mind, and that I use it as a time for ‘silent reflection.’

Depending on how I’m feeling when someone asks me what kind of music I listen to, I may tell them that I primarily listen to old John Coltrane records, rap music from the early 1990s, and ambient droning. I don’t really use my 15 minutes in the morning, then, again, in the afternoon, as a time of completely silent reflection—I have been trying to make the best of my walking time by listening to music on a second-hand iPod that, much like the car I used to drive, is barely being held together.

Sometimes it’s an album I need to focus on listening to for review purposes, and other times, it’s something simply to serve as an enjoyable soundtrack for the walk to or from work.

I’ve found that now, since we are truly in the winter of my discontent, listening to ambient droning pumping in through my headphones as I trudge through my neighborhood—especially on mornings when it has either just finished snowing, or is still snowing, creates this bizarre feeling that is both comforting, yet unsettling.

Will Long, per the very brief bio on his Bandcamp site, is ‘an American artist living in Japan’; on his personal Instagram page, you’ll find nothing but a steady stream of very dramatic, artistic photographs, taken with 35mm film; however, you will not find any information about the music he produces under the moniker Celer.

As I’ve spent the last two weeks, give or take, immersed in the sprawling new release from Long,Xièxie, which roughly translates from Chinese to English simply as ‘thanks,’ I was trying to recall how it was that I first became introduced to Long’s compositions—it turns out it was through a one-off collaborative LP he put together with the, at the time, like minded composer, Nicholas Burrage (nee Szczepanik), Here, for now, released in 2015.

That effort lead me to check out one of Long’s 2015 additional efforts, the charmingly titled How could you believe me when I loved you, when you know I’ve been a liar all my life, as well as one other release from the same year, Templehof.

As Celer, Long is overwhelmingly prolific. In roughly the last three years, he’s put out 10 releases—and not just digital efforts dumped on to Bandcamp; no, everything is given a proper physical edition as well—mostly CDs, with the occasional LP or cassette.

Xièxie is an ambitious project for Long—a double album, put together into two very distinct parts that, in a way, are structured to mirror each other; together, the record totals over 90 minutes of music, with extravagant physical editions including silver or black vinyl, along with a double CD set, or two cassettes.

With the physical products available in June (a bit of a long time to wait, I know) the digital version is made up of the anticipated individual mp3s, but what you get when you buy Xièxie also, smartly, includes seamless versions of the record—put together in two very lengthy files, leading one to believe that until the silver vinyl is spinning on my turntable, these are the intended way to listen.

Xièxie is less of an album that you simply just listen to; it’s more of an album that you experience—it has a transformative, transcendental power to it that Long pulls off effortlessly. From the moment it begins with a field recording, as the album’s true ‘first’ piece slides in underneath it then takes over, until the very last drone dissolves into the ether, you are at the mercy of Long, who is, in a sense, holding you captive, in the dense, evocative atmosphere he’s weaved together.

Everything moves faster than we can control. Days are just flashes, moments are mixed up but burned on film, and all of the places and times are out of order. If it could only be us, only ours. If it was ours, if it was us. Sometimes everything goes faster than you can control and you can’t stop, much less understand where you are. 

I hesitate to say that Xièxie is a concept album, but it is a very self-contained work, with its tone and structure inspired by Long’s trip to China in 2017. He discusses this, somewhat ambiguously, on the Bandcamp page for the album, stating that before he left, he bought a phrase book and dictionary to help get around, but by the end of his travels, the only word he ever used was “xièxie.”

His reflection on the trip is quite beautiful, and haunting—much like the music that this trip wound up inspiring, and throughout Xièxie, Long does an impressive job of being able to take the evocative imagery of his travels—including the self-described rainy, foggy, glowing days and nights in Shanghai and the cacophonic rhythm of the city, to the frenetic blur of speeding to Hangzhou on a bullet train, and translate it into glacially paced, stark, and gorgeous pieces of music.

But, of course, the field recordings included at the beginning of each half to Xièxie assist with immersing you in this world. The album’s opening track, “From the doorway of the beef noodle shop, shoes on the street in the rain, outside the karate school,” is, exactly what it sounds like it would be—setting the tone that is slowly introduced underneath the sound of children shouting in unison as they begin a karate exercise and the perpetual drizzle of the rain. Aptly titled, “Rains lit by neon,” the mournful, pensive drones come rushing in and Long manages to sustain them in the small pattern with which they oscillate for over 8 minutes.

The length of these pieces on Xièxie is another thing worth discussing—as well as the patience you must have with an album like this, and the kind of “it takes as long as it’s going to take” kind of mindset Long must possess when composing the, again, aptly titled “For the entirety,” which spans 21 minutes and change, arriving at the end of the album’s first ‘side’ as it were; it’s a beyond majestic, swooning kind of piece that is, again, structured around a minimalistic pattern of changes that swirls, and swirls, and as it does, it completely envelops you.

Across Xièxie’s seven long form compositions, Long manages to craft the kind of melancholic, wondrous drones that have an almost immediate, dizzying, and visceral emotional reaction with you. He spends the album walking the line between sounds that are hopeful but bittersweet, and incredibly reflective and somber—sometimes all at once; it’s an album that is the kind of thing you can, all too easily, become lost in, and the emotional gravity tethered within these sounds needs to be heard to truly be understood.