The most striking characteristic of this album compared to Will Long's others is how hushed the material is. "A Small Rush Into Exile" never creeps above a whisper, making it necessary to listen in complete silence to perceive the floating melodies and delicate shimmers that exist.
The hushed sound of "Dry and Disconsolate" hides glistening rising and falling tones, comfortably sparse and airy. The extremely distant hum of "Variorum of Hierophany" is reminiscent of Bernhard Günter in its approach, but even without a distinct melody it is less dry and clinical than his work, which continues as it blends into "A Landscape Once Uniformly White".
The two closing pieces are the only ones that have a more dynamic sound, not requiring a meditative approach to listening while still remaining understated. Long puts glassy organs up front on "Distance and Mortality," resonating and sustaining throughout the entire piece. It shifts, changes, and evolves frequently to stay fascinating. "With Some Effort, the Sunset" follows suit, with church bell like echoes leading off the 13 minute long piece. It is beautiful and delicate, with an icy but light and floating drift to it, fading in and out of focus.
Because of my own self-sustained abstinence from following Celer's exponentially growing discography too closely, I cannot speak as to how this work fits in with the most recent releases. On its own, Without Retrospect does stand out from the other albums I have heard with its quiet, faint nature. Rather than resembling other ambient projects, its extreme minimalism makes the soft tones and melodies that appear all the more powerful, resulting in a bare but beautiful snapshot of icy lands and frigid air.