Celer + Forest Management: Landmarks (Constellation Tatsu, 2018)
I have been a long-time fan of Celer’s work and am a new fan of Forest Management’s brilliant ambient sounds. On Landmarks, both come together to collaborate on a piece of work that re-imagines a soundtrack to Peter Weir’s film and Paul Theroux’s novel “The Mosquito Coast”. For those new to the artists’ works, Celer is the ambient project of Will Long who currently resides in Tokyo, Japan while Forest Management is the ambient project of John Daniel who resides in Chicago, Illinois. Both are masters of the ambient art and their combined sonic powers are featured on Landmarks. The album is fourteen tracks and features glacial, spacious moments alongside brief samples from the film.
Celer and Forest Management begin the album with “7° 10° 77° 83°”. There is a tone in here that sounds like one playing the edge of a crystal glass. It glimmers and floats through the sonic fog, drifting in and out of aural distance. The second track blends seamlessly with the first and it is entitled “The First Steps onto Their Soil”. The piece reverberates with an ominous percussion tone punctuating the sound of birds chirping. “Hotel Mona Lisa” brings an increase in volume with a stuttering drone that evokes, for me, the bustle of people in crowded areas. There is a motion to this track that is hard to explain. It is engaging and monolithic.
“Indistinguishable from Magic” begins afresh, with a quiet moment between tracks. As it elevates into the speakers, it is spacious, quiet, and careful. Meditative and floating, “Indistinguishable from Magic” feels like the heart of Landmarks, displaying Long and Daniel’s brilliance in spades. “A Big and Strange Place” is a sample that sits at the center of the album and then it blends into “Volcanic Institutions”. This track shimmers with a hesitating drone that flitters amid bright, dancing synths. “From Fire, Ice” begins with found sounds and a deep rumble. The use of panning here really places the listener into the environment. It is unsettling in all the right ways. The last minute or so of the track is almost completely silent. A brilliant move that causes the listener to pause and clean their aural pallet.
“Embra” begins the second half of this epic album with a repeated, truncated melody sitting atop synth swells. “5,000 Feet Under the Surface” is another brief sample that leads into “Blending All of the Above”. This piece is just beautiful in the way panning and speaker selection are used. It’s another very open piece with a floating drone and subtle, deep tones. “S-Shaped Isthmus” takes the exact same tones from “Blending All the Above” and adds these great fuzzy, static textures to it. Eventually, the lighter tones remain while the drone fades and the rougher tones come to the forefront. They fade as beautiful, sci-fi synth voices take over. The track really feels like a dream state or some mystical fantasy.
“Magnified Pieces of Thermodynamics” continues with a sort of thread that connects it to the prior few tracks. This track is fuller and almost more organic in a sense. The swells are dense and static laden. There is this aural fog that ungulates throughout the composition. “The Signs are Everywhere” is this great track that is another sample warning about the U.S. going to war. It’s unsettling but a brilliant placement in the album. This leads into the finale of Landmarks which is entitled “Rights of the End or a Machine”. It is the longest track on the album, spanning over ten minutes. Hypnotic and flowing, the variations in the piece are slight but meaningful. It’s a perfect finale to this beautiful record.
Celer (Will Long) and Forest Management (John Daniel) have crafted a magnificent piece of art with Landmarks. As a pseudo-soundtrack, it evokes images of civilization gone wrong using select snippets from “The Mosquito Coast” while utilizing music to evoke emotional responses. At times drifting and at other times unsettling, Landmarks brings these two masters of ambient music together and the outcome is an album that should be on top lists come the end of 2018. Landmarks will be released on February 5, 2018 on the fabulous Constellation Tatsu. Highly recommended!
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