2. Mt. Mitake
8. Sou (Remix by Sylvain Chauveau)
9. Mt. Mitake (Remix by Nicolas Bernier)
10. Deux Filles (Numa Remix by Stephan Mathieu)
cd on Irrational Arts, September 2015
This album compiles the three 7-inches released with Celer, 'Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake', 'Numa/Penarie' and 'Hei/Sou'. It also feautures one new track by us, and three remixes.
Stream or order the album at
Bandcamp (also in digital format)
True story: in my pursuit to play a bit of ambient music when waking up, either from cassette, download, CD, LP, it doesn't matter (also to check what 'I have here anyway'), I played just this very morning some bits by Machinefabriek and Celer, from a folder on my hard drive that says: "assorted Machinefabriek digital". Then the mail arrived and lo and behold there is this CD by Celer and Machinefabriek, which included the two pieces I heard this morning, which the musicians released in 2011 to support their tour in The Netherlands, which is something I sadly must report to have missed. No stopover in sunny Nijmegen. They released a 7" before the tour, and did two more, in total six pieces, which are now collected on this CD, along with remixes by Stephan Mathieu, Sylvain Chauveau and Nicolas Bernier as well as previously unreleased song.
Both Celer and Machinefabriek are very active when it comes to releasing music and a lot of their work has been reviewed in these pages, and music has been part of the weekly podcast (Machinefabriek no less than 54 times, well, 55 as of this week), so it's safe to say that these are household names. The music they play together holds perhaps not really big surprises, certainly not when it combination (more difficult to break away from patterns I should think when playing together), and in these seven pieces they play that excellent trademark drone music they are so very well known for. Spacious, glacier like, soft flowing, courtesy of Celer, and Machinefabriek adding a bit of strangeness to his drones: a bit of crackling here and there, the odd move which seems out of place, but which makes also sense. Not that it happens a lot, as Machinefabriek too has to think about the drones he adds to the table. The great thing of course that since these pieces were released on 7", they are all kept with the four to five minute range and each of these pieces is well rounded off affair, and don't sound like an outtake from something bigger.
The three remixes follow a similar path of drones. Chauveau has an organ like drone bit, going in one unmoving stroke, it seems, from beginning to end, while Bernier has some more laptop tricks up his sleeve and makes the most experimental curves in this drone land which makes room for the longest piece on the release, by Stephan Mathieu playing a rather mysterious dark and atmospheric piece of music. This is a fitting coda to this release (and do check out Mathieu's latest bandcamp release: it's awesome!). A grey morning in sunny Nijmegen and this seems to be a most fitting soundtrack. You know what to get and these boys deliver.
In 2012, Long and Rutger Zuydervelt—Machinefabriek—traveled the Netherlands together. They recorded and pressed a seven-inch single to sell on tour and two more while on the road, now gathered in this Compendium, along with guest remixes and “In-Out,” a previously unreleased piece.
One finds the duo in a surprisingly dark mood on the opening dirge “Maastunnel,” telegraphing a world-weariness bordering on resignation. However, “Mt. Mitake” follows directly after, and it is a grand, sweeping gale of multicolored drone, by which a lone, one-fingered instrumentalist, trying to pick out a simple tune, is overwhelmed (but who ultimately gets the last word). “Numa” is the close-up refraction of light through the prism of hundreds of thousands of snowflakes. Until they fall to the ground and underfoot and are exposed to the reemergent but unforgiving sun. “Sou” twitches like a Steve Reich phase piece against a pacific, scopic background. “In/Out” races up/down, from bracing alpine heights to bumpy, gritty flatlands.
The remixes are elegant, all three of them. Sylvain Chauveau‘s ”Sou” is a creamy, sustained harmonium hum. Nicolas Bernier shakes off a confusion of thoughts to ponder that beautiful melody struggling to be heard on ”Mt. Mitake” and crafts a kind of slow jazz. The lengthiest of them at almost eight minutes, Stephan Mathieu‘s “Deux Filles” is the most complex in its layering of real sound and its ghosts, creating the illusion of movement where there is none, stasis where there is evolution.
Full of light and space with a few dark corners, Compendium is a perfectly curated collection, packaged in charming, wish-you-were-here collaged cover art.
Machinefabriek aka Rutger Zuydervelt is a sound artist based in Rotterdam and Celer aka Will Long, an American artist based in Japan for five years now, are two important exponents of the underground electronic music who self released a trilogy of 7 inches that it matches the first one (‘Maastunnel’/’Mt. Mitake’) with 2011’s tour in The Netherlands. The English independent label Irrational Arts released the trilogy on CD entitled 'Compendium (Collected Singles and Remixes)’ that includes an additional track and remixes by renowned artists such as German Stephan Mathieu, French Sylvian Chauveaux and Nicolas Bernier from Canada.
'Compendium...' combines dense atmospheres that come together with overlap layers and cosmic corridors that display beautiful melodies. Sylvian Chauveaux’s remix on 'Sou' contains an almost endless sustained drone. While Nicolas Bernier’s remix for 'Mt. Mitake' consists of glitches while some sounds are subtly distorted. Stephan Mathieu’s remix on ‘Deux Filles’ has an isolationist character with incursions in dark and dense areas.
‘Compendium: Collected Singles and Remixes’ compiles the six tracks recorded by Celer and Machinefabriek for their trilogy of 7" singles which were self-released throughout 2012. It also includes one new track and a series of remixes by Stephan Mathieu, Sylvain Chauveau, and Nicolas Bernier. This album is almost tailor-made to be experienced upon first rise in the AM, or when a 50 minute reboot beckons.
Celer and Machinefabriek's collaborations are highly ambient; there is barely a pulse anywhere in their collected works. Most of the tracks feature prolonged, alluring swells that seem to prescribe evenness and harmony with just a delicate touch of tension from time-to-time. All of the trilogy tracks blend well together in both sequence and timbre. Some compositions -- notably 'Penarie' with its ominous, sweeping, low-end distortion -- billow within the first 90 seconds, percolate in their discord, and finally arrive at their well-timed beauty.
Conversely, the long additional track 'In/Out' deep-dives into ambient bliss straightaway, then slowly transcends into an alluring, splendidly-phased distortion. It accomplishes a great deal in just under 3 minutes, and sounds complete. As for the remixes, I did not notice significant deviance from the source material, though two of them (Chauveau's remix of 'Sou' and Bernier's remix of 'Mt. Mitake') have an edginess that suggests the separation process has begun.
Though it is a collection of works, "Compendium" is well-integrated, focused, and worthy of front-to-back consideration.