by eureka USER (14 Reviews)
June 11th, 2021 | 10 replies

Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Pure transcendence

I’ve often found myself during the pandemic with a distinct lingering feeling – that of transience, of being in a liminal existential space. Maybe it comes from the strangeness of graduating from college this year and trying to find my way through a post-pandemic employment landscape. Perhaps it’s from simply being a young person living through perhaps one of the strangest times to be alive over the last hundred years. Either way, it feels like a deep sense of impermanence has been impressed on me emotionally and spiritually. More so than any other music with traditional forms (read: “songs” with lyrics and structure), recently I’ve been returning to the ambient work of Celer. While Will Long’s masterful sense of restraint and beauty runs deeply through his vast back catalogue, his album Xièxie holds up as a high-water mark of both aesthetically-pleasing ambient drift and the type of emotionally resonant, evocative music that leaves a lasting impression on the listener.

Long is no stranger to impermanence, either. Much of his work is defined by loss and raw emotion – the project has partially remained from the late 2000s as a tribute to his former partner and musical collaborator Danielle Baquet-Long, who succumbed to alcoholism tragically young. Following this loss, Long relocated to Tokyo, Japan, where he remains to this day – in interviews, he has praised his chosen home but explained that he sometimes still feels like a tourist. Xièxie takes the concept one step further by documenting a trip to China in the late 2010s, primarily through drone soundscapes but also by field recordings interspersing the main pieces; this latter part adds to the record by creating a special context for the album and also situating the listener within a vivid mise-en-scène.

As for the drone sounds themselves, they embody the best of Celer’s work and approach mood and emotion with a finely-crafted minimalist approach. A loop will come into focus through the disorientation induced by the travel recordings and often remain unchanged for ten minutes or more (perhaps you might hear a filter slowly being adjusted in the background, or the sound of the tape repeating itself). However, the emotional potency of the record comes from the loops themselves – sonically rich and deceptively simple, each repetition only seems to nestle itself further in the listener’s consciousness. Mere text cannot do justice to the transcendent nature of these sounds.

Most of all, what I take from Xièxie is its duality – the blissfulness of it all despite the lingering sense of loss and impermanence. This record is beautiful, but the weight of it just adds a layer of depth frankly absent from most ambient music. It can be listened to in the background, but it feels so much more rewarding to listen to it front-and-center as a work of art. Much of this music is deeply emotional, on a level beyond the need for lyrics and visible expression. Part of the record’s merit is its openness to interpretation. Personally, it speaks to the human experience, or at least what I would like to make out of mine. Maybe it’s in the moments when we feel lost or disoriented that we can truly find ourselves.

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user ratings (43)

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 11th 2021


Album Rating: 5.0

Sorry if my inane 2am ramblings don't cut it, but it felt criminal to me that one of my favorite albums ever didn't have a review.

For the uninitiated, here's three more excellent Celer albums.

"Future Predictions": https://celer.bandcamp.com/album/future-predictions

"Akagi": https://celer.bandcamp.com/album/akagi

"It Would Have, But It Wasn't": https://celer.bandcamp.com/album/it-would-have-but-it-wasnt-2

and here's the Bandcamp page for this album: https://celer.bandcamp.com/album/xi-xie

June 11th 2021


Album Rating: 4.5

nice, definitely one of my top Celer albums.

June 11th 2021


yooo nice. havent heard this one in so long. celer is great tho

June 12th 2021


I listened to Malaria while sleeping a few nights ago. It got the job done but I don’t feel like rating it. We’ll see about this however.

June 12th 2021


Album Rating: 5.0

Personally I don't think I've heard a "bad" Celer album, but Malaria is definitely not his best work - for really long-form stuff I'd point you to "Future Predictions" and "Memory Repetitions"

June 13th 2021


good stuff

June 13th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

Album slaps

June 13th 2021



June 13th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

Yao Ming

Staff Reviewer
June 28th 2023


Album Rating: 4.0

this is the album.

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