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)