Gurun Gurun is a Czech group that has been deeply influenced by the extremely delicate, airy style of electro-acoustic music of Japanese artists like Minamo and Sawako. One person on a laptop, another gently caressing the string of a guitar, another hounding a feather with a condenser mic…you surely get the idea– this is an aesthetic that was pioneered in Japan. And they have been opened to this school with welcoming arms– Home Normal, the label on which their new album Kon B was released early in May, is in fact based in Tokyo. On Kon B, the quartet of Federsel, Jara Tarnovski, Ondrej Jezek, and Tomas Knoflicek are joined, in addition to some collaborators closer to their neck of the woods, by Japanese vocalists Cokiyu, Cuushe, and Miko, who wrote lyrics in Japanese for their features. The result is beautifully chaotic but not muddled.
Compositionally, the release is challenging– the pieces seem to swing rapidly from dissonance to consonance, from what sounds to be carefully planned and melodic to what sounds to be free improvisation. Gurun Gurun have crafted an album of mysterious electro-acoustic expedition, with the voices of their trans-cultural collaborators occasionally acting just as other textures in the atmosphere, and other times as the guides that define the musical direction of a section or entirety of a piece. Recommended.
Will Long came out with over a dozen new releases this year under his Celer project, in keeping with his consistently stupefying output.
Celer has, for a while now, been my favorite modern ambient. I mentioned in my review of Eluvium’s Nightmare Ending that Eluvium evokes a feeling in me very specific to the ambience of the Pacific Northwest. Celer and Chubby Wolf, on the other hand (especially on great releases like Menggayakan, The Low, the Sows, and Discourses of the Withered) often evoke a sense of wonder at the world, the traveler’s sense of awe and gratitude. It is fitting, since after all both Danielle Baquet-Long (who unfortunately passed away a few years ago, if you don’t know the story) and Will Long were something of a pair of nomadic artist-academicians, to my understanding.
According to Long’s bandcamp, Weak Ends was influenced by a trip to Okinawa last summer. The work is a single lulling loop that repeats for about 30 minutes (not too long, not too short) with little variation. Warm sheets of synthesizers bring a tranquil scene of an afternoon on a Japanese beach to life. It is a fine ambient release that has earned a respectable place in the Celer discography and is no doubt one of the best Celer releases this year. Put it on when you’re doing dishes, trying to fall asleep, meditating, whatever you like– this is great ambient.