Month: July 2014

spinning plates : no summer

Illusion Of Safety – More Violence And Geography (LP, Complacency 1988)
Asmodaeus – Lies And Logic (LP, Walhalla Records 2014 reissue)
The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters (2LP, Fat Cat Records 2014 reissue)
various artists – Nightlands (LP, Final Image 1987)
various artists – Colorado (LP, RRRecords 1988)
Earth – Hex: Or Printing In The Infernal Method (2xLP, Southern Lord 2014 reissue)
Esplendor Geométrico – Sheikh Aljama (LP, Geometrik 2014 reissue)
Alessandro Cortini – Sonno (2xLP, Hospital Productions 2014)

Textura’s questionnaire

Belgian composer and guitarist Dirk Serries established a name for himself when he began releasing atmospheric music under the Vidna Obmana (“optical illusion”) name in 1985. Upon retiring the project in 2005, Serries adopted the Fear Falls Burning moniker and released material under that alias as well as eventually material under his birth name. While Serries has generated a huge body of solo work, he also plays in a number of groups, among them The Void of Expansion, which pairs him with Swedish drummer Tomas Järmyr , and Yodok III, which adds Norwegian tubaist Kristoffer Lo to the duo. Both outfits recently inaugurated Serries’ new A New Wave of Jazz imprint with powerful vinyl album sets.

My latest recording: I just finished recording an exciting and quite eccentric duo improv album with sax player John Dikeman for my A New Wave Of Jazz imprint and am waiting for the final mixes to arrive.

On the horizon: A number of projects ahead and in production, being created, or in the writing stage. In late June, in the midst of our tour, we recorded our second Yodok III album at the Sunny Side Inc. Studio in Brussels. I’m completely flabbergasted by the sheer and overpowering beauty the trio created. This double album is planned for release in February next year; I can’t wait to share this one, and naturally I hope we can tour more extensively as well.

In recording mode is a solo album for Projekt Records. I’m not only returning to the label, which has been the home for my vidnaObmana moniker for years, but musically it’s an extension of the Streams Of Consciousness records I’ve been releasing on Tonefloat:ikon. Planned for this fall/winter, it’s a pure ambient record, completely improvised on electric guitar, and an ode to my classic vidnaObmana period from the late-‘80s/early-‘90s. And in August I’m flying to Trondheim to do two The Void Of Expansion concerts with drummer Tomas Järmyr to promote our recently released album on A New Wave Of Jazz.

The biggest change in my music since my career began: I believe two events were significant in my growth as a musician: first, that I finally, after almost thirty years of experimenting, pushing boundaries, and constantly creating exposure, dared to come out underneath the protective shield of my alter-egos. Releasing my microphonics work attached to my birth name was a huge step and made me stronger and confident that, despite the ongoing fight for recognition, I was following my own path and creating a unique little spot in the music industry for myself. Secondly, when I got invited by Trondheim’s (free)jazz musicians Kristoffer Lo and Tomas Järmyr to form Yodok III, who pulled me out of this solo cocoon and made me realize I also could improvise in a team context. Yodok III has opened my ears to so much more, including genres that I had been listening to for so long but had not dared to interact with. The project also helped me shake off a control freak attitude and react and correspond musically on the spot and without any prepared structure to create music that was as inviting and organic as the music I spend hours in the studio constructing fanatically.

The thing that most distinguishes my music or sound from others: I’m convinced that the combination of specific use of loops and the tonality that I’ve created, not only in my years as vidnaObmana but also now with the electric guitar in the various projects, is one that definitely represents me. The use of loops, not linear but more according to the tradition of Bach’s canon method, and the constant, almost subliminal, combination of notes and tones has been a permanent factor in my music and one I’m proud of and hopefully distinguishes my music from the many others that came before and will come after me.

The thing I’m most trying to communicate in my music: Beauty. I mean this without being too mellow or New-Agey but I feel there’s a lot of music that doesn’t provoke beauty. I always from day one, even in my harsh industrial years, tried to create a certain beauty in my music, whether it was harmonic, warm, or a sort of melancholy. I’ve never been for pure noise, aggression, or any other form of extremity in my music. Beauty also possesses something universal, untouchable, and organic that’s specific and different from one person to another.

What musically I’m most proud of: In general: the persistence to follow my own voice despite that over time it made me lose contact with quite a lot of listeners, labels, and colleagues (referring to the transition from vidnaObmana into Fear Falls Burning). Solo: my Microphonics XXI-XXV ‘mounting among the waves, there’s a light in vein. the burden of hope across thousands of rivers’ album. Collaboration: Yodok III and especially live in concert and the forthcoming second album.

A favourite piece of music when I was a child: Ennio Morricone’s My Name Is Nobody: as a kid I was extremely fond of movie soundtracks and watching Spaghetti Westerns; this was my favourite Morricone soundtrack from that time. Also Vangelis’s To The Unknown Man, which is still a fantastic piece and underrated due to later inferior works.

A piece of music I wish I’d written: Arvo Pärt’s Cantus In Memory Of Benjamin Britten: so in tune with what I want to reach for. It achieves an overwhelming and breathtaking beauty as its shifting layers of repeating motives slowly multiply. Truly mesmerizing.

A memorable concert I attended: The Necks live at Paradox, Tilburg (The Netherlands), November 17th 2004: an unbelievable first encounter with a trio that showcases how dynamic, repetitive, and efficient minimalism can be.

The artist with whom I’d love to collaborate: John Coltrane—no explaination needed!—and in the present The Necks, with whom I share a passion for minimalism and repetition.

The artist or musical piece people would be surprised to learn I love: Van Morrison’s Veedon Fleece: beautiful and soulful and one of his most underrated albums.

Who I’ve been influenced by most: The hybrid version of Robert Fripp, Arvo Pärt, John Coltrane, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

The best advice I’ve received: Everything happens for a reason.

What I’m listening to now: Keir Neuringer’s Ceremonies Out Of The Air.

If I could time-travel and give my fourteen-year-old self one bit of advice, it would be: Try to be less of a control freak.

The music I want played at my funeral: The perfect trinity: A Silver Mt Zion’s “13 Angels Standing Guard Round The Side Of Your Bed” (from He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corners Of Our Rooms), David Sylvian’s “Darkest Dreaming” (from Bees On A Cake), and Arvo Pärt’s Cantus In Memory Of Benjamin Britten (from Tabula Rasa).

My motto or philosophy: “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things but their inward significance” (Aristotle)

textura reviews A new wave of jazz

“One shouldn’t read too much into the name Dirk Serries has given his Tonefloat offshoot A New Wave Of Jazz, conceived as a home for limited vinyl releases that bridge his own long-developed musical world and the free jazz scene. If the sub-label’s premiere releases are any indication, its material is hardly jazz as conventionally known: there’s neither round-robin soloing nor jazz-styled heads; instead, the music patiently unfolds as an ever-swelling mass of volcanic intensity. Despite the difference in the artist names, the projects overlap: The Void Of Expansion pairs drummer Tomas Järmyr with Serries on electric guitar, whereas Yodok III supplements the duo with Norwegian Kristoffer Lo on amplified tuba and flugabone (though, to be clear, it’s Järmyr and Lo who formally constitute Yodok, with Serries the addition). Both releases have been prepared in amounts of 240 vinyl copies and include download codes plus inserts featuring informative text by Guy Peters.

It makes sense to begin with the self-titled disc by Yodok III, given that it was recorded two years before The Void Of Expansion’s. Laid down in two days in August 2012 at the Athletic Sound Studio in Halden, Norway, Yodok III presents two side-long pieces, both untitled and in the twenty-three-minute range. Lo’s amplified tuba and flugabone playing fill the role typically accorded the bass player in a trio of this kind, even if his fog-like expressions define themselves less sharply than would a bass. Anyone familiar with Serries’ playing (as documented in a large, decades-spanning catalogue of releases) will know that he doesn’t solo in the conventional manner but instead generates textural masses of an all-consuming magnitude.

On the album’s opening piece, his tremolo-laden figures multiply into dense clouds, the slow-build conducted in concert with Lo as their contributions at first alternate and gradually merge. The trio takes its time coaxing the material into being, with Järmyr only making his presence felt four minutes along and Serries unleashing an aggressive ripple at the seven-minute mark. His playing assumes a more molten character thereafter when egged on by the rapid increase in activity in Järmyr’s playing. Eventually we find ourselves at the center of a storm, with the drummer using cymbals, snare, and toms to generate a whirlwind, alongside of which streams a thick wail of guitar, amplified tuba, and flugabone textures. In contrast to the slow-build of side one, the second opens dramatically with thudding drum strikes and groaning guitar lines suggesting an almost death metal-like state of affairs. The music plods along at a crawl, as if the players are providing a funereal soundtrack to some last rites ceremony. The piece isn’t static, however, as the density and volume incrementally increase, and Serries’ lines grow ever more searing and Järmyr’s playing ever more tumultuous. On both of the album’s sides, the music, equally ritualistic and meditative, exudes an elemental force that’s contributed to equally by all three musicians.

Two years on from the trio set, Järmyr and Serries reconvened at the Sunny Side Inc. Studio in Anderlecht, Belgium on February 15 to record Ashes and Blues under The Void Of Expansion name. Having primed themselves for the studio session with two duo concerts in Belgium, the musicians were ready to take on the challenge of recording without Lo’s involvement. In contrast to the two side-long settings of Yodok III, Ashes and Blues presents one sixteen-minute side-long piece and two others of slightly shorter length. If there’s a soloist on these recordings, it’s less Serries than Järmyr, whose uninhibited playing reflects a non-stop level of invention. That’s even more apparent on the duo set, where the absence of Lo makes it easier to differentiate between the contributions of the players. If Serries’ playing is as raw on Ashes and Blues as it is on Yodok III (though a stronger hint of wah-wah is audible on the duo set), Järmyr’s ascends to a more furious level of activity. On side one’s “Paradox” and “Damper” and the flip’s “Consecration,” he punctuates the low-pitched smolder of the guitar with an endlessly inventive barrage of hi-hats, cymbals, and drums. The music, a seething cauldron of an inordinately powerful kind, isn’t without structure, however, and neither is it bereft of control, as testified to by the duo’s carefully executed modulations in dynamics and tempo. Ashes and Blues isn’t jazz per se, but it is most definitely free-spirited.” Textura – Canada

Gonzo Circus reviews

“Niet alle jazz is ‘jazz’. Gelukkig maar want dat houdt het genre levendig en de omschrijving interessant en relevant. Het Nederlandse Tonefloat houdt – volledig in die geest – een nieuwe serie boven de doopvont die wordt gepresenteerd als ‘new wave of jazz’. Sun Ra’s label en de DIY-filosofie van de underground cassette-scene van de jaren 1970-’80 zijn, naar eigen zeggen, daarbij de rode draad. Vrije improvisatie en experiment staan voorop en dat brengt het kleine sublabel nog het nauwst bij de zogenaamde free jazz. Laat dat niemand op de kast jagen want de met de pokkeherrie (sic) van pakweg Peter Brötzmann heeft YODOKIII, die de spits mogen afbijten, niets gemeen. Stilistisch althans niet. YODOKIII is het zoveelste project op rij van Dirk Serries (vidnaObmana, Fear Falls Burning, Microphonics). Na een recente gesmaakte collaboratie met improv/jazzdrummer Teun Verbruggen (Othin Spake) als Art Of Cosmic Musings gaat hij nu in zee met twee Scandinavische muzikanten, de Zweedse drummer Tomas Järmyr en de Noor Kristoffer Lo (versterkte tuba, flugabone en effecten). Die twee opereerrden eerder al als YODOK, de samenwerking met Serries is er de derde incarnatie van. Serries’ vertrouwde gitaardrones – sferisch, ijl, veelgelaagd en uitwaaierend – worden in twee lange tracks begeleid door ritmes waardoor het geheel naar dynamischer open terrein wordt gedirigeerd. Bewerkte (en daardoor haast onherkenbare) geluiden van de blazers geven het geluid de nodige massa. Op kant 2 valt alles in de plooi en bouwen zowel ritmes als soundscapes crescendo op naar een gloeiende apotheose. THE VOID OF EXPANSION is YODOK III minus Kristoffer Lo. Met enkel gitaar, effect (onder andere een Sherman filterbank) en drums creëert het duo een veel ruwer, hectischer, chaotischer geluid. De drums stuiteren, naar free jazztraditie, alle kanten op waardoor er geen sprake meer is van puur harmonische soundscapes. Het fysieke neemt over van het atmosferische en het fragiele. Serries’ gitaar gromt, grauwt en schuurt, zoals destijds met Fear Falls Burning op ‘Frenzy Of The Absolute’. Waar de instrumenten bij YODOKIII eerder in dialoog ginnen, lijken ze nu met elkaar frontaal in discussie te gaan. Zoekend in het begin, gedecideerd naar het einde toe. In de derde en finale track wordt ook noise niet geschuwd. ‘Ashes And Blues’ belicht het zoveelste facet van Serries’ nooit ophoudende muzikale zoektocht. Beide releases zijn enkel verkrijgbaar op vinyl in een gelimiteerde uitgave van 240 stuks, telkens gestoken in een uniforme hoes en voorzien van gepassioneerde tekst en uitleg van Gonzo (circus)-collega Guy Peters.” Gonzo Circus – Belgium

All About Jazz reviews YODOK III

YODOK III began operations in Norway as the Trondheim-based duo of Swedish drummer Tomas Järmyr and tuba player Kristoffer Lo in 2008. They have released one EP (I, Self Produced, 2012) and one album (II, Perfect Hoax, 2013). Both Järmyr and Lo are versatile musicians, active in the local Norwegian experimental and improvised scene. Järmyr collaborated with Lo in the heavy drone trio Sunswitch (its self- titled album was released by Riot Factory, 2012) and the alternative jazz- pop outfit Doffs Poi. Lo plays in the art-rock bands PELbO and Highasakite, is a member of the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and the experimental tuba trio Microtub (its debut was released by Sofa Music, 2011). He is an independent musician who released a fascinating solo tuba album Anomic (Gigafon, 2013), where he redefined the instrument’s sound with effects, pedals and electronics.

Järmyr and Lo wanted to push Yodok’s musical envelope in a thick mix of noisy, industrial ambience and heavy drones. They addressed Belgian guitarist and sonic sculptor Dirk Serries, known before through the monikers Vidna Obama and Fear Falls Burning, after they were fascinated by his minimalist ambient works. The collaboration was recorded over one session in August 2012 and mastered by American experimental guitarist and producer James Plotkin. is released as a limited-edition (240 copies with download codes) vinyl album by a new imprint of the Dutch vinyl label Tonefloat, ironically called A New Wave of Jazz.

The A side, simply called “One,” is a contemplative, psychedelic journey. Waves of resonant sounds, comprised of distant echoing guitar lines, amplified, deep-toned tuba sounds and light- ringing or scraped cymbals, join to form an infinite aural spectrum. All three musicians have equal parts in creating giant sound waves, with no dominant voice. The thick, rich sounds patiently grow bigger and deeper, enriched with noisy feedback, the singing voice of the tuba, nervous drumming and distorted guitar lines until it becomes a monolith of enigmatic, dream-state soundscapes that embrace a listener in a commanding, ritualistic meditation. The B side, “Two,” present a different approach. Jarmyr’s methodical pulse sets the course for a linear progression. This powerful pulse slowly evolves with noisy, atmospheric sounds that keep swirling around heavy beats, stressing the tension and mysterious, tribal mood until a monumental climax.

An exceptional, invigorating listening experience, suggesting a new means of creating free improv. One of the most impressive and original releases of 2014.” Eyal Hareuveni/All About Jazz – USA