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Various Artists – Places


Lomechanik is a dutch independent experimental music label celebrating their 25th release with the compilation called Places: a ‘Name Your Price’ (!) download of 25 tracks (over two hours) especially created for this project by “old familiars as well as newly involved artists, with a certain place and/or memory as a starting point.”

Originating from a collective based in Nijmegen, Holland, even the ‘old familiars’ will probably be unknown names outside Holland (and probably even in the larger part of Holland), but Places proves that the local experimental music scene is alive and well and breathing a fresh air into the world that definitely deserves to be heard elsewhere also.

It’s almost impossible to define the styles here. Sometimes acoustic, sometimes electronic, often both, ambient elements but hardly ever ‘ambient music’. But it’s not your average classic rock, either, as you may have guessed!

For an album that has so many styles coming from so many different backgrounds, the overall coherence is remarkable. The atmosphere is exciting and relaxing at the same time.
This must be due to the single directive: “The only rule we’ve established: No use of beats.”
“The result is a movie-like musical trip over mountains, through hills, past cities and villages, right through the desert and the deep-sea. From serene atmospheres up to extremely ominous, it’s for the adventurous traveller.”

Places is released as a digital-only album, but for those that find it hard to live without something physical to hold on to, Lomechanik has an optional extra: a set of 25 postcards: one black and white postcard for every track (with the link to the audio file printed on them so you can send the appropriate postcard with the audio file to anyone you want.
The pictures printed on the postcards are also embedded in the digital file, so every track has its own ‘cover’.

Original and innovative in music as well as in the form it is released in, this is a fitting anniversary release for a label that defies borders!

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Celer – I, Anatomy


When talking about extremely prolific artist that manage to deliver amazing quality recordings with every new release, Celer is one of the names that pops up. At the time of writing, the Celer discography mentions 52 titles released on a label, and another 33 self-released titles!
I, Anatomy
, released as a double vinyl album (no digital download yet, unfortunately), is not the latest release, but, in fact, that is not the point at all.
Unlike decades ago, there’s no point in collecting, trying to be complete. The more important point is to simply enjoy what you encounter.

As Will Thomas Long puts it: “I know it is difficult for people to keep up, but for me, I just share things with people that I feel or assume might be interested in the music, because they’re just the people I have contact with, hoping that in maybe one of the releases, something will strike them or have some personal relation. I don’t expect anyone to listen to or enjoy everything, but it’s something that is just natural for me, making and working on music, and keeping doing it. Trust me, I’d love to make only 1 album a year, but it just doesn’t ever work out that way. Not yet, at least.”

I assume the tragic history of Celer is known by most that are familiar with their music.
Celer was formed in 2005 as a husband-wife duo of Danielle Baquet and Will Long. Their music reflected their harmony. After Danielle’s tragic death in 2009, caused by heart failure, Will continued to record music under the same name.
In loving memory of his wife. 

Is it important to mention this tragedy with almost every new review?
Yes, I think it is, because most – if not all – of Celer’s music is about memories.
And memories are definitely the basic theme of I, Anatomy“.

Quite a lot of Celer-albums contain long-form ambient music, which can easily be referred to as ‘drone music’. Will does not really like it when his music is referred to as ‘drone music’.
“I don’t think this describes my music at all. Maybe it does and has sometimes in the past, but not always. The dictionary definition of ‘drone’ is ‘a continuous, low humming sound’. I know that in many and most times, my music is not continuous (other than the continuance of loops), but it is rarely ever consistently low.”

Though “drone music”  and “ambient music” may refer to a strictly defined style of composing music, for most people it’s a reference to a mood, and a certain way of designing soundscapes.
“People use the word ‘drone’ or ‘ambient’ to describe something with reverb, sustain, or a pure sound that is continued fluidly. For instance, if you listen to the first musical part of ‘I, Anatomy’, it consists of two things, a piano note and bells, looped and repeating. They both have sustain and reverb, but I wouldn’t call it a ‘drone’. Most people would though..”

So, I, Anatomy is not “long-form drone music”. At least, the first half of the double album isn’t. The first two sides of the album are short fragments of sounds, alternated with short field-recording fragments, bringing back memories that everyone probably can share in some way. It’s like when you’re browsing through a box full of long forgotten postcards. Different moods, different atmospheres, all fondly remembered. 

“A few stories, put together with no previous purpose, than having their own place and time. In being put together, something new is formed. This was the basis for I, Anatomy. There wasn’t any intention, it was just a diary. These things happened, and became the source material, finding their directions from what was before directionless, and become the whole. Going back to these moments and memories,
I, Anatomy isn’t a story, it’s one hundred stories.”

The second half of the album consist of two EP’s that were previously released in strictly limited editions: “All At Once Is What Eternity Is” and “The Die That’s Caste”. They were included because this release was intended to be released in a singular edition this way, but that release never came to be (all music was recorded from 2005-2009).

I, Anatomy starts with a fragment of a dialogue with a 103 years old friend. “We know where we’ve come (from), but we don’t know where we’re going”.
About 80 minutes – 100 stories – later, the most important question remaining, the ‘only one, always the same‘, is: “What are you running away from?”

I bet that’s the hard one to answer.

CELER – I, ANATOMY (fragments)

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Celer + Machinefabriek – Greetings From…

postcard set

It’s almost impossible to keep up with the speed of Will ‘Celer’ Long and Rutger ‘Machinefabriek’ Zuydervelt. 
By the time I have finished writing this review, I guess probably at least three new releases will have emerged which are all also worth hearing… 

Following up their 7″ collaboration (Maastunnel – Mt. Mitake” ), they recently did a short tour through Holland (and Brussel).
Recordings of these sets have now been released simultaneously with the duo’s second 7″ single Numa – Penarie

And, to conclude this batch: the CDR “Bliksem“, recorded by Celer especially for this tour (in a very limited physical edition of 10) is now also available as a digital download.

The physical part of the “Greetings from Celer and Machinefabriek”  tour set consists of 8 postcards featuring snapshots from nearby the concert locations (which are not always the kind of images the local tourist board would publish, by the way). From the tour impressions written on the back of the cards we learn that the tour was great overall, but the closing night at Drachten obviously turned out to some kind of unexpected anti-climax: “Not to be rude, but this was almost like performing in an elderly home.”

The digital counterpart of the set features a recording of sets from the full tour: almost 3 hours of improvised music for a ridiculously low price of only 5€ (including the postcards)!.

I expected that all sets would be somewhat identical in a tour like this. But I clearly misjudged these guys’ improvisational talents! 
Of course, the overall feeling is similar across these tracks. There are some distinct elements and themes returning at different times and in a different context.
But there’s always something different happening: Celer creating atmospheric background drones while Machinefabriek is constantly busy manipulating all kind of wired objects. The result is a fascinating blend of dreamlike drone-backgrounds, found sounds, radio fragments, spoken word and environmental recordings. 
A lot of room is left for spontaneous incidents (and coincidental humor, like a hunter elaborating on ‘elk talk’, or a voicemail recording of someone asking for help because ‘the internet won’t start up’).
Even after listening to the full three hours I still felt this roller-coaster ride was over much too soon! 

Numa Penarie

Like its predecessor, the Numa – Penarie”  7-inch single contains two relatively short tracks, built from tiny audio snippets perfectly crafted into sound collages.
This single is somewhat like a short ‘studio version’ impression of what the live sets have to offer.
Beautiful atmospheres, with sudden mood changes to keep you from dozing off.

Ordering this 7″ single also includes the download of the digital version, also containing two videos created by Marco Douma: abstract video images that perfectly match the mood of their soundtrack. 


Compared to that, Bliksem (which is dutch for “Lightning”) is a more uncomprising, relatively rough recording, especially because this 30 minute track ends in fairly harsh sounding distorted feedback (which I think is rather ‘un-Celer-like’).

“Bliksem” was recorded the night before departing to Holland for the March tour, and quickly burned as a limited tour CDR. Of course, the physical CDR’s quickly sold out at the tour, but the recorded improvisation is still available as a digital download.

Celer + Machinefabriek – Numa

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