Month: February 2015

Ondarock reviews DIKEMAN/SERRIES LP

“Fibrillazione. Non c’è parola migliore per descrivere la fase che la creatività di Dirk Serries sta attraversando. Difficile prevedere quanto un simile brulicare di idee ed energie possa durare, ma basta fare un tot di nomi o dare uno sguardo alla sua discografia tra l’anno scorso e l’inizio di quest’anno per farsi un’idea. A New Wave Of Jazz, l’emblematica porzione di catalogo che Tonefloat ha scelto di regalare al belga, ha prodotto la bellezza di sette esemplari in meno di un anno di vita. Sette momenti di quella che ha l’aria di essere davvero una Seconda Rivoluzione post-jazz, dopo la prima firmata ECM avviata una trentina d’anni fa.

Il nuovo capitolo della saga vede Serries intrecciare la sua strada con il sassofonista John Dikeman, statunitense trapiantato in quel di Amsterdam, girovago per scelta e nomade per vocazione artistica, già con lui durante alcuni dei concerti al fianco di Teun Verbuggen l’anno scorso. Uno che viene dall’universo free-jazz più classico, cresciuto a pane e Pharoah Sanders, ammiratore neanche troppo silenzioso di Evan Parker. Una scelta curiosa, decisamente più “conservatrice” rispetto alla direzione sonora fresca e inedita costruita insieme ai vari Kristoffer Lo, Tomas Järmyr e al già citato Verbuggen, quasi in controtendenza con il nuovo sound elaborato dal marchio ANWOJ.

E il risultato, anche solo per l’appartenenza alla collana, non può non essere giudicato in relazione alla sequela di meraviglie che Serries ci ha regalato negli ultimi anni. E “Cult Exposure” è, per la prima volta, un disco che non sconvolge. Un lavoro che può essere interpretato, con due letture differenti, come il tentativo di conciliare il sound della (autodefinita) nu-wave con il free-jazz classico, o come il frutto della volontà di piegare quest’ultimo all’estetica della prima. Ecco dunque il sassofono duettare non più con il contrabbasso, ma con le distorsioni della chitarra, “ridotte” a mero elemento per un telaio di basse frequenze su cui s’incastrano a fatica le trame atonali e convulse di Dikeman.

Non mancano certo momenti di indubbio fascino, sparpagliati nella seconda metà del lavoro, come nel quarto d’ora di “Whisper Edge”, dove i droni e le screziature noir di Serries fanno da contrappunto al lamento rassegnato di Dikeman. Si genera qui quell’alchimia che manca invece nella prima delle due “Monolith Song”, in cui le scorribande dal forte impatto fisico del sax tendono a monopolizzare il soundscape. La scena si ripete in maniera più caotica nella title track, dove Serries rialza la testa, messo a dura prova dalle frastornanti incursioni dell’incontrollabile Dikeman. È piuttosto nell’odissea di “The Monolith Song II” che la chitarra pareggia finalmente i conti, in una nuova apocalisse dei sensi che rappresenta anche l’indubbio vertice dell’intero lavoro.

Indubbiamente il più ostico, a livello puramente uditivo, tra i frutti della New Wave Of Jazz, eppure, a conti fatti, il più “classico”. Il cuore pulsante di questa rivoluzione post-jazz, però, è altrove. 6,5/10″ Ondarock – Italy

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The Origin Reversal reviewed

“The album title suggest a kind of return to the basics. Indeed, Serries revisits the time when he created hypnotic ambient soundscapes under the alter-ego moniker vidnaObmana, a name he used since the mid-eighties until the the middle of the last decade, often for the same label. Serries uses his extensive experience and employs his effects laden electric guitar to sketch patiently on real-time, nuanced layers of gentle and warm sounds that transform into meditative textures. Each of the five serene, resonant soundscapes has its delicate dynamics and defined spirit and all sound surprising rich in detail, depth and color.” Freejazzblog

Freejazzblog reviews YODOK III, DIKEMAN/SERRIES

“The YODOK trio – Norwegian, Trondheim-based drummer Tomas Järmyr and amplified tuba and flagbone player Kristoffer Lo (who began YODOK as a duo) with Belgian guitarist Dirk Serries, already sold out its limited edition sophomore only Double LP album. This release expands and enriches its debut sonic universe. Powerful drone-ambient pieces, all spontaneously improvised, all developed methodically and patiently as mysterious, otherworldly rituals.Within this loose framework this trio does wonders. Järmyr exquisite work with the cymbals charge this patient interplay with dark tension and Lo and Serries highly creative usage of effects and pedals add layers upon layers of detailed and rich sounds. All the instruments adapt new, much richer, deeper sonic forms with a fascinating, profound resonating quality that deepens the feeling that these soundscapes do not subscribe to conventional definitions of time and space.The emphatic and open interplay suggests a great focus in sketching the ritualistic spirit. Still, each of the four extended pieces on this album has its own distinct sound and color. Despite its ritualistic, even trance-like nature, none of these slow pieces sketches a peaceful, meditative narrative of the ethereal kind. Its focused interplay and rich, voluminous sound form a massive and all-encompassing presence that demands surrender to its grandiose energy and sheer, often innocent beauty.” Freejazzblog

“This free improvised sax-electric guitar duo has nothing to do with previous duos of similar instrumentalists. The meeting between the muscular Brötzmann-ian sax wails of American, Amsterdam-based sax player John Dikeman, known from the free jazz bands Cactus Truck and Universal Indians, and the reserved, serene playing of the effects-laden guitar of Dirk Serries forced the two to transcend any possible comfort zone.  On the first piece the two still struggle to find for a possible ways of interaction without seeking a common ground. Dikeman plays his tenor sax in a powerful, nervous mode confronted with Serries structures of spare, noisy textures. But on the second title-piece Dikeman patiently taps his wails to the fractured loops that Serries structures and the two form a restless and tense, yet much more restrained soundscape. The third piece, “Whisper Edge” already morphs Dikeman extended breath techniques and gentle squeaks with the subtle, meditative of Serries atmospheric guitar and on the last piece,  “The Monolith Song II” , the two offer another collaborative pattern that brings the two back to the starting point but in a less confrontational interplay. Serries creates an intense, noisy pattern on which Dikeman can expands on with fiery, emotional blows.” Freejazzblog

Ondarock reviews YODOK III

“7,5 out of 10 rating ! Quel che Dirk Serries sta facendo attraverso A New Wave Of Jazz – lo spazio messogli a disposizione esclusiva da Tonefloat – ha semplicemente dell’incredibile. Se si vuole leggerla testualmente, una rivoluzione simile nel concetto stesso di jazz non si presentava dai tempi dell’ECM e del suo celebre primo roster. Dedicandosi invece a una traduzione della definizione in senso più ampio, possiamo parlare di un fermento radicato in fenomeni culturali ben chiari (la free-impro dei Necks, il noise, l’ambient music già dell’ultimo vidnaObmana, il guitar-processing dopo Fennesz, certo post-rock) ma la cui traiettoria sta conducendo il concetto stesso di musica atmosferica verso territori nuovi e inesplorati.

Yodok III è l’espressione corale di tutto questo, il supergruppo formatosi con l’aggiunta di Serries al live-duo che vedeva l’amico Tomas Järmyr spartire il palco con Kristoffer Lo (Yodok). I ritmi di pubblicazione dell’etichetta, ricalcando quelli del Serries di questi ultimi anni, sono vertiginosi e così a nemmeno un anno dal primogenito, eccoci di fronte al secondo parto del combo. Un lavoro dalla forza d’impatto eccezionale, frastornante, forse il più dinamico e irriverente dell’intera saga, paradossalmente quasi contrapposto alle digressioni interiori, ombrose e oppressive dell’omonimo primogenito. È sostanzialmente impossibile non farsi travolgere da quest’uragano di suoni, ritmi in tempi dispari, distorsioni e armoniche.

“Watching The Stone Of Celestial Flaw Rush Down”, la prima delle quattro suite che compongono i due Lp, è una cavalcata magistrale, che parte da sussurri e riverberi per auto-costruirsi lentamente, rivelando immediatamente il lato più dirompente del soundscape del trio, qui davvero a due passi dai Necks. Del passaggio quasi non ci si accorge, amalgamato com’è dalle frequenze distorte e liquide della chitarra, che guidano fino ad un’esplosione che sfocia in territori di autentico post-rock. La tecnica del flusso di coscienza, già caratteristica dell’omonima saga del Serries solista, raggiunge qui uno dei suoi apici massimi. Il suono acquisisce forza progressivamente ricalcando la dinamica di una valanga, accrescendo la propria massa e aumentando la velocità man mano che prosegue la propria corsa, autonomamente, senza contributi esterni né diesgni preparatori.

Una scena pronta a ripetersi anche nelle due meraviglie che compongono il secondo disco: due tornado che nascono dal medesimo grembo, l’uno pronto a prendere la forma di uno schiacciasassi irrefrenabile (“For Seconds He Felt The Grandeur Of Devastation”), l’altro ad implodere in un climax percussivo da brividi sfrenati (“Together We Trascend Into This Wreackage Called Heart”). La sola “In A Realm Of Wander Behold The Fleeting Shadows Exclaim In Delight” concede una sosta, muovendo in direzione del cosmo sotto la guida della tuba di Lo e ripescando dalle trame più dark della saga ambientale di Serries. Un passaggio estemporaneo in un disco di sostanza pura, incontaminata, formidabile. L’ennesimo a firma Serries, in attesa di vedere fino a che punto questa rivoluzione (pseudo-)jazz riuscirà ad arrivare.” Ondarock (Italy)

DIKEMAN/SERRIES reviewed

“Op die plaats waar drones en vrije jazz elkaar ontmoeten, is het daar mooi? Is de ontmoeting tussen stemmige gitaarsoundscapes en dissonante saxofoonimprovisaties er eentje met een blijvende impact?

Wacht even. We hebben het hier wel over Dirk Serries hè. Een van de meest actieve en getalenteerde gitaarkunstenaars van tegenwoordig (zoek in de KindaMuzikarchieven van afgelopen jaar maar eens naar Microphonics, YODOK III of The Void of Expansion). Dat kan toch niet fout gaan? Nee, zeker niet. Die vragen hierboven? Een volmondig JA! Natuurlijk heeft Serries weer een fabelachtige plaat gemaakt. Bijna voorspelbaar eigenlijk, die kwaliteit. Maar voorspelbaar is de muziek bepaald niet. Op Cult Exposure speelt hij samen met John Dikeman, saxofoonimprovisator extraordinaire, to boldly go where no one has gone before. Het zou voor de hand liggen om de wilde improvisaties van Dikeman te vergezellen van atonaal snarengetrek à la Derek Bailey of Fred Frith, en dat zou ook prachtig zijn geweest. Maar dat is duidelijk niet Serries’ stijl, de man die het moet hebben van langgerekte tonen, sfeervolle ambient en emotionele soundscapes.

Het duo vaart op eigen intuïtie, componeert on the spot en komt tot resultaten die verrassen en verbijsteren. Het is alsof Serries een gave heeft om de juiste persoon te vinden, waarbij ze elkaar in staat stellen boven zichzelf uit te stijgen. Op Cult Exposure zijn het de contrasten in geluid en aanpak die de muziek zo speciaal maakt; overduidelijk dat Serries en Dikeman naar elkaar luisteren, maar ze blijven uitdagen, reageren, maken het elkaar niet makkelijk. Wat overblijft is een waanzinnig spannende plaat op precies die scheidslijn tussen drone en freejazz, elkaar overlappend alsof het nooit anders is geweest.” Kindamuzik – The Netherlands

THE ORIGIN REVERSAL

“The number of projects, releases and illustrious collaborations Dirk Serries has participated in, I’d like to believe needs no clarification in an ambient-based zine such as this one. This Belgian craftsman of abrasive electronics, noise/ drone, meditative ambient and atmospheric harmonies and dissonances has been active since 1985; with his monikers Fear Falls Burning and especially Vidna Obmana, he constitutes nothing less than an ambient legend. If despite the bulk, range and accessibility of his work you’re still not very familiar with him, I suggest you start with his website and the Projekt records Bandcamp, and take it from there.

After successfully closing the cycles of Vidna Obmana and Fear Falls Burning, Serries decided he no longer needed a musical alter ego, and since 2008 he has been releasing under his own name. “The Origin Reversal” as stated in the label website was ‘performed in real-time directly to a stereo 2-track, […] only with a Gibson Les Paul custom guitar and a few pedals.’ Unsurprisingly for those of us who enjoyed Serries’ 2012 collaboration with Steve Roach, “Low Volume Music”, this album is strongly reminiscent of the more meditative moments of Vidna Obmana, and moves in an aura of serenity and benevolent introspection. In the CD sleeve is found the phrase ‘improvisations, streams of consciousness’, that I believe is a great start to its interpretation. Although segmented in 5 long pieces – the longest of which being the closing track, “Transfuse The Phantom”, that runs for 21,5 minutes – the differentiations between them are barely perceptible and the transition is purposefully made as smooth and seamless as possible. While the artist advises us to play at low volume, I’ve found it works better for me at average to low volume; of course that depends on the state you’re in during your listen, and the way you wish to immerse yourself.

The titles are something of an enigma, subtly suggesting an alternate dimension full of light, energy and angelic harmonies. The first track, “Radiant Down” is the first step up this ladder of self-forgetfulness and enlightenment. The musician touches his chords lightly, caressingly, and the serene notes resonate into a clear, purified ether. The minimalistic melody and rhythm unfolds slowly, lingering on the border between ambience and music. It undulates and envelops you like a wave of mild heat, offering that familiar, numbing euphoria of warmth succeeding frost. Then ends as it began with the volume fading out, a technique that the artist uses throughout the whole album, so that the shift doesn’t intrude on the listener’s transcendental state of mind. “Remission” is more dramatic, with higher pitched drones and sharper tones, emanating a colder, more elevated atmosphere. The sound is also a bit fuzzy, approaching the area of shoegaze/ post rock but not quite breaching it. When combined with the reduced presence of melody, this slight grind in the sound gives the impression of a purification or cleansing; a process that denotes a passage, a turning point in the journey. The level of intensity remains unchanged throughout, and the volume gradually decreases for most of the final segment.

“The Dead Air Reprise” is exactly what the title states, namely an alternate take on the basic theme of “Radiant Down”, more hypnotic and expansive than the previous version. The melody is still there, but it is less prominent, and as the title suggests it feels as if it’s being delivered in some kind of etheric vacuum. The notes become drifting, luminous shapes radiating in a light that is almost blinding. Floating in the currents of air like angelic feathers, they carry us away into this realm of supernatural bliss. It functions as a preparation and a gateway. And in this state of ecstasy and purity we come closer to the “Notion Of The Invert”, where every thing is its opposite and definitions or particularities cancel eachother out. We are everything and nothing, and so we become one with the light. This progress is noted by the presence of buzzing drones in the middle segment, and the choice of the artist to use a tighter and ‘heavier’ arrangement. The music seems as if lifting the weight of the soul forwards and upwards, gently urging it to take that ultimate step. In “Transfuse The Phantom” the guitars are finally crossing into post-rock territory, with layers of smooth, reverberating drones lending their now metallic, now ethereal-sounding voices to the performance of this mystical choir. Like the whispers of spirits, they weave a trail of ascension and spiritual illumination. The escalation is here, but it is an even, perfectly arranged one, where there is no room for feelings of uncertainty or doubt. All that exists is joy and fulfilment.

“The Origin Reversal” is masterfully done, admirably inspired and absolutely distinctive drone ambient, representing the trademark sound of an artist who has rightfully gained his place among the greats of contemporary electronic and ambient music. But it is also much more than that. It’s one of those little islands of light and inner truth that have become so scarce in our world. A pure expression of inner peace and contemplation. One that if you put in but the slightest effort to access, will fill you with its bright, invigorating energy so that when your journey has ended, part of you will be renewed. How many artists can truly say that their art can change its audience? Let alone for that change to be of a permanent, lasting nature. “The Origin Reversal” apart from its undeniable musical worth can be a constant companion for inspiration and personal transformation, if you allow it.” Santa Sangre Magazine – Poland