A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Ambient Classics: Celer – Discourses Of The Withered (2008, 2012 reissue, Infraction)

Celer Ambient Review

75 minutes of ethereal, drifting ambient drone, Discourses For The Withered introduced the essential (than) husband-and-wife duo of Celer to a wider audience. Perfect for staring out the window, full of memories and dreams of brighter tomorrows.

Sometimes running a music blog can be confusing – it’s part of why i don’t post on this space more regularly. Should we focus on brand-new, cutting-edge releases, like every other music publication on Earth? Focus on current events? Breaking news? Or should we focus on music that fits a certain mood (which would, of course, be entirely subjective and possibly irrelevant).

Following a morning of listening to a bunch of glorious, neoclassically tinted recordings from A Winged Victory For The Sullen and Adam Bryanbaum Weltzie – which have been transporting us to alien shores the past few days, but which we’ve not listened enough to fully gather our thoughts and feelings – we turned our eyes, ears, and thoughts to some classic 21st Century Ambient/Drone, from the endlessly prolific and utterly beguiling Celer.


Celer were one of the leading lights and brightest exports of the Golden Age Of Music Blogs (circa 2007 – 2008), when the Internet rippled and bristled with artful, abstract sound collages, field recordings, and drone music of all makes and persuasions. Celer transcended the endless onslaught of anonymous drone recordings with taste, a personal touch, and focusing on the minutiae of their amorphous recordings, similar to Brian Eno‘s Ambient works from the ’70s.

Discourses For The Withered marked the first occasion Celer would sign to a record label, after issuing a seemingly endless onslaught of small-run CDRs. Discourses…, and Celer’s work in general, encapsulate all that was good and right and holy about this fruitful period of artful experimentation.

Much like the classic Celer record Nacreous CloudsDiscourses For The Withered is distant, dreamy, emotional, and evocative – bringing to mind sunsets and non-descript landscapes gazed at through rain-spattered windows. Unlike many lesser drone acts, Celer pay attention to every small detail, processing cello, violin and bells into gossamer-like tendrils of barely-there sound. It’s slight, but packing an enormous emotional wollop, with the closest approximation being William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops.

Discourses For The Withered bears inclusion as a modern ambient/drone classic, due to the detailed processing and distinctive identity, as well as for some of the background details.

If you’ve followed ambient/drone/noise music for any time, you likely know the heartbreaking story of Celer. Originally a duo, for their first few years, Celer was the husband-and-wife duo of Will Long and Danielle Baquet-Long, who also made solo ambient noise as Chubby Wolf. Celer’s music emanated from their love, like rose quartz vapors, always giving warm feelings even if the music wasn’t totally your speed.
It came as a massive blow for lovers of love, as well as atmospheric, ambient, droney music, when Danielle Baquet-Long unexpectedly passed away on July 8, 2009, making for one of the 21st Century’s most tragic passings, along with fellow experimentalists like Broadcast‘s Trish Keenan and Stereolab‘s Mary Hansen.

Since 2009, Will Long has bravely persevered with the Celer project, having since decamped to Japan, where’s he’s been reissuing Celer’s massive back-catalog, while continuing to push out high-quality ambient recordings.

As someone who makes music and art with their love, i can’t imagine how badly it must hurt for Will Long. He must feel like he’s missing a limb or an eye, every single day.

The message is short and sweet, with Discourses For The Withered, on this Thanksgiving Eve: Be thankful for what you have, and never, ever take it for granted. Times are particularly dark and hard for a lot of us, right at this moment, and we need to maintain perspective.

And for the ambient musicians out there, let this be a reminder to always be individualistic and unique. Always have something to say. Obsess over every detail and try yr best to make artful, compelling sound art, and it will rise above the fray, every time.


What are some other classic modern ambient and drone records you’d like to see us cover? Let us know in the comments!


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