Month: December 2015

ENOLA reviews

DIKEMAN/NOBLE/SERRIES – Live At De Singer (Rijkevorsel, Belgium) Saturday December 12th, 2015.

“De wereld van de vrije improvisatie zit vol verrassingen. Op 2 april trokken John Dikeman, Dirk Serries en Steve Noble voor een paar uur de studio in en het onderonsje belandde prompt op het releaseschema van het Oostenrijkse Trost-label. Het resultaat van die opnames — Obscure Fluctuations — verscheen een tijd geleden. Nu werd het tijd om dat live te herhalen.

Het trio had vier concerten gepland, waarvan dit het laatste was. En het voelde bij momenten ook aan alsof alles er nog eens uit gekwakt moest worden, want de drie speelden twee compacte sets die knetterden met een onbesuisde energie. Twee sets van een goed half uur, wat vrij ongebruikelijk is binnen de jazz en improvisatie, waar een van de ongeschreven regels is dat zo’n sets doorgaans 40-50 minuten duren. Maar waarom zou je niet stoppen als je uitverteld bent, gezegd hebt wat je wil zeggen? Daar komt nog eens bij dat dergelijke abstractie het best tot z’n recht komt in behapbare dosis, zodat je ook als luisteraar op het puntje van je stoel blijft zitten.

Er werd alleszins weinig tijd en energie verspeeld aan ingetogen, aarzelende poespas. Noble en Serries startten met een urgentie die voor een later binnenwandelende bezoeker zou kunnen suggereren dat het om een concertfinale ging. Dat rollende, beweeglijke spel van de drummer was al bekend van de opnames en de concerten die hij hier al speelde (zoals een tijd geleden nog een oplawaai met Peter Brötzmann), maar het was deze keer vooral Serries die meteen alles opengooide en dat kenmerkende geduld achterwege liet. Gewapend met een schroevendraaier en andere attributen begon hij te sleuren en te wringen, raasden de vingers over de gitaarhals, schoot hij nu en dan in een muzikale kramp. Het resulteerde in een stuiterende stroom vol gehuil, gejank en geratel.

De inval van Dikeman was, hoe kan het ook anders, een gepast luidruchtig antwoord, waardoor het trio al zeer snel een vuist maakte die aankwam als een voorhamer. Er waren heel wat momenten waarbij het deed denken aan de noisy, abstracte elementen van Cactus Truck als ze op dreef zijn, al werd hier meer afgeweken van die freejazzkoers. En er werd ook wel gedoseerd, want plots werd ook overgeschakeld naar fluisterniveau en een plaats gegund aan een paar opvallende solomomenten. Zo kon Noble zijn imposante klankcontrole en ritmische drive etaleren en Serries verder terrein verkennen dat afwisselend herinnerde aan werk van gitaarspinnen als Derek Bailey, Manuel Mota en Sonny Sharrock.

Wordt op het album een vrij directe, soms tumultueuze A-kant afgewisseld met een iets ingetogener tweede helft die nauwer aansluit bij de drones-traditie, dan werd dat gisteren aanvankelijk gevolgd. Serries creëerde hypnotiserende loops met een strijkstok (even leek er een viool of sitar aan te pas te komen), waardoor die tweede set aanvankelijk een minder nerveuze, gejaagde teneur had. De muzikanten zaten hier op een nauwer afgelijnd veld, waarbij het vooral Dikeman was die na verloop van tijd te ongedurig werd om er lang te blijven rondhangen. Het gevolg was opnieuw een kleine explosie, al wist Serries die loops na een tijdje opnieuw binnen te smokkelen.

Voor de korte toegift was de saxofonist de voorganger, terwijl de open abstractie van voorheen vervangen werd door een meer ritmische focus, met de gitaar die aangewend werd als een repetitief hamerend instrument. Het trio bevond zich voortdurend in de buitenste regionen van de improvisatie, daar waar frictie, abstractie en dissonantie doodnormaal zijn, maar dat gebeurde wel met variatie, dynamiek en een focus die al die tijd centraal bleef staan. Van verslappende aandacht, op of voor het podium, was geen sprake.” Enola – Belgium

Dalston Sound reviews

DIKEMAN/NOBLE/SERRIES – Obscure Fluctuations (CD/LP, Trost Records)

“John Dikeman is an American saxophonist living in Amsterdam, who plays barefoot and often invites comparison with Peter Brötzmann, which can be a backhanded compliment. This clutch of albums all demonstrate that, while he’s clearly chasing an accommodation with Brötzmann’s legacy and influence, he’s no copycat, being too versatile and tuneful to swallow the rather cartoonish idea of Brötzmannian Machine Gun machismo that does neither artist any favours. Of these three albums, Live at La Resistenza makes that point best, teaming Dikeman as it does with two of Brötzmann’s longstanding collaborators to rather ebullient effect. The other two, Skullduggery and Live at Cafe Oto, recorded back-to-back, are more abrasive and exploratory. Where Cactus Truck – Dikeman’s trio with Jasper Stadhouders and Onno Govaert – plays free jazz with a hardcore influence, Dikeman Noble Serries Trio plays an arthouse variation on the same conceit that takes it closer to drummer Steve Noble’s past work with Æthenor. Their Obscure Fluctuations (Trost Records) was recorded in a single 2.5 hour studio session in April 2015. There’s a point, after an initial squall of overblown sax and all-round intensity fifteen minutes into the first of the album’s two twenty-three-minute cuts, “From Assent to Refusal”, where Dikeman falls silent and Noble expertly turns the gas down to expose Dirk Serries’ rubbed-up wisps and feedback-barbed whips of electric guitar, then rejoins with a new, subtly tribal rhythmic emphasis. Dikeman’s fluid, responsive solo in turn prompts a heated but controlled climax. So far, so alt-orthodox. “The Heart Strips Bare” is more arresting, founded as it is on a grimy, lustral shimmer of soft-scraped contact sounds. Serries’ guitar is the dominant source, but Dikeman’s sensitive breath control and Noble’s expert play of brushes and skin on skins both extend and, by subtle degrees, expand the soundfield. As the smouldering intensifies, Dikeman tempers muted frictions with soft burred exhalations, combining with Serries’ discomfiting abrasions and Noble’s near-subliminal contributions into an oddly particulate drone. Ultimately this concentration of sonics is all burned off in a sudden irruption of agitation, Dikeman’s sax the blue flame of complete combustion. Two such contrasting yet complimentary performances make for an excellent package.”

DIKEMAN/LISLE/SERRIES/WEBSTER – Live at Cafe Oto (CD, Raw Tonk Records)

“The occasion of Serries’ rare London pass-through also yielded the continuous 32:28 improvisation documented by Dikeman Serries Lisle Webster – Live at Cafe Oto (Raw Tonk), recorded 1 April 2015, the night before the Obscure Fluctuations session. Dikeman and drummer Andrew Lisle get things underway with fiery but measured depth-sounding, then Serries clanks metallically into gear just before Colin Webster’s guttural Baritone sax begins to thicken the brew. But a change of mood after only five minutes leaves just the soft, continuous vibratory sound of twinned saxes and thin, contractile threads of metallic guitar; a sound not dissimilar to the textual assiduity of “The Heart Strips Bare”. By 12:52 we’re back to inharmonic, abrasive braying, Lisle imposing a semblance of order with clipped beats. The quartet risk tipping into outright ruckus, but shortly, suddenly, transmute tensions in another breakdown, each taking it in turn to prod and probe at a central well of silence. Then they test each other’s mettle in a standoff ’til the two horns lock, Webster blowing fit to drown out Dikeman’s sour drizzling, but not succeeding: the Cactus Trucker signals that the endgame is nigh with throaty exhortations begetting another loosely combative interlude and a final passage of barbed free-form improv, a four-way of rasping and chafing. Webster is last man standing, taking the set out with a coda of imposingly deep vibrations.” Dalston Sound – UK

Freejazz Blog reviews

DIKEMAN/NOBLE/SERRIES – Obscure Fluctuations (CD/LP, Trost Records)

“****1/2 rating! This trio challenges Serries to face the fiery free jazz improvisation mode of the Peter Brötzmann school. American, Amsterdam-based powerhouse sax player John Dikeman, known for his groups Cactus Truck and Universal Indians, can blow as hard and wild as Brötzmann, but has an open attitude that is genre-blind. British master drummer Steve Noble has performed and recorded with Brötzmann (I Am Where You Are, Trost, 2013), as well with other innovative improvisers as Derek Bailey, Evan Parker and Joe McPhee. Serries performed and recorded with Dikeman in the last year (as a duo on the vinyl-only Cult Exposure, New Wave of Jazz, 2015, and on other live ad-hoc outfits), but it was the first time that he recorded with Noble. This new trio was recorded in studio on April 2015. Dikeman and Noble set the intense, stormy atmosphere on the first piece, “From Assent to Refusal”, from its first seconds. Only after both slow down Serries integrates into the dense, fast interplay with distorted, thorny lines. Slowly he intensifies this mode of confrontational free improvisation, building again its voluminous climax, until it disintegrates again and now the trio unites again  in a tight, rhythmic and fiery free jazz mode. Serries sets the contemplative course of the second piece, “The Heart Strips Bare”, with distant, ambient playing. Noble adds minimal touches on the cymbals that stress the ceremonial atmosphere, while Dikeman opts for gentle, long wails, but the minimalist, conversational tone is kept throughout it until a short eruptive coda.”

FANTOOM – Sluimer (LP, Tonefloat’s New Wave Of Jazz)

“**** rating! Fantoom is a quartet that feature Serries, his wife, autodidact double bass player Martina Verhoeven (who is also a gifted photographer), drummer René Aquarius, and sax player Otto Kokke, both from the Dutch group Dead Neanderthals, with whom Serries played in their Endless Voids project on the 2014 edition of the Incubate festival in Tilburg, Netherlands.  The quartet debut album, a limited-edition vinyl, is a free-improvisation that was recorded in studio in December 2014.  The quartet plays one piece, the 38-minutes “Sluimer”, that revolves around the buzzing bow drone work of Verhoeven and develops organically along this course. Serries minimalist, effects-laden and loops, Kokke sax shrieks shouts and Aquarius patient yet powerful pounding tension building enrich Verhoeven rough, possessed attack with layers of resonating textures. At times this piece sound close to the dramatic sonic rituals of Yodok III, another group of Serries, but the tone here is more dark and direct. “Sluimer” is a sound-poem that its hypnotic intensity is built slowly and methodically by this collective quartet until its inevitable massive, epic climax, and then Verhoeven changes the course and leads the quartet into a quieter, peaceful coda.”

SERRIES/VERHOEVEN/WEBSTER – Cinepalace (LP, Tonefloat’s New Wave Of Jazz)

“*** rating! Serries and his wife and double bass player Martina Verhoeven meet British tenor sax player Colin Webster, who also participated in the Dead Neanderthals’ Endless Voids, for a live improvisation, recorded at the DIY club Cinépalace in Kortrijk, Belgium in May 2015. A month earlier Serries performed with Webster in a quartet that was recorded as Live at Cafe Oto, and released on Webster’s Raw Tonk label. This recording, another limited-edition vinyl, is a 45-minutes piece, titled after the club name. It highlights the highly individual voices of Serries, Verhoeven and Webster and their idiosyncratic improvisation strategies. It begins as an open-ended, quiet and abstract tone when all three searches for his own eccentric course. But patiently this kind of fragile, meditative interplay gels into a close and louder one, as the three still continue to explore their streams of ideas in delicate, parallel courses, occasionally unite for brief and more intense eruptive climaxes.” Freejazz Blog

Disorientation Flow

“Dirk Serries, the Belgian giant behind vanished vidnaObmana, is back with another spectacular chapter of his intriguing guitar drone magic. Disorientation Flow album, which is out since May 2015, is a follow-up to his previous acclaimed Projekt release The Origin Reversal. Packaged in rather simple 4-panel eco wallet, exhibiting as usual immersing cover images taken by Dirk’s wife, Martina Verhoeven, who is renowned for her unique, mostly organic and abstract photographs, which can be found on many releases and collaborations by Dirk, under vidnaObmana or Fear Falls Burning aliases. As usual, graphic design is executed by Projekt’s Sam Rosenthal.

Nearly 14-minute “The Imperative Edge” unwraps in a truly grandiose way, although emerging silently, almost inconspicuously, stunningly gorgeous drone euphory permeates and cyclically floats and nuances on the wings of utterly majestic graciousness, while earmarking high-pitched reverberations persistently tickle the ears of each devoted journeyer. Dirk Serries fully utilizes his innate mastery in painting a jaw-droppingly intense elegiac evocativeness and delivers some of the most, prodigiously expressive compositions since closing the circle with vidnaObmana. Although I am familiar only with Dirk’s CD albums, not with his numerous “Streams Of Consciousness” vinyl releases, this must be together with “There’s A Light In Vein” one of the absolute pinnacles of his soundscaping escapades crafted under his real name. A true milestone resurrecting exquisitely memorable delights of vidnaObmana’s extensive existence. Harmoniously enrapturing splendor is back once more, this time reshaped through meticulously resonating real-time improvisations with electric guitar and various effects during the crepuscular autumn and winter days, bravo, Dirk!!! “Metamorphosis” clocks to quite similar length than its predecessor and again it tranquilly arises from enveloping stillness. Hauntingly meandering structure might be slightly less reminiscent, without mindscaping disruptive subtleties, yet intensified spiraling magnitudes clandestinely sneak in and infuse this isochronally kaleidoscaping scenario with extraordinarily full-bodied euphoniousness. Well, did I say not as much engrossing as “The Imperative Edge”? Towards the end of this sonorously bewitching dronescape I realize more and more this might be just my uncertain feel, because this is undoubtedly another splendiferous powerhouse!!! “Disorientation Flow”, the title track and also the longest one on this album, reaching almost 16-minute mark, languishingly emanates and counterpoints with poignant glimpses of silence. Then a milder tension persistently pervades across the evolving monolithic undulations, while shrilling traceries insistently glance on this harmoniously encircling wistfulness. “Blistering” keeps on the path of deeply profound scenic expanses, sinuously moving through lyrically warmhearted nostalgic evocations and dazzlingly coalesced with mesmerizingly ear-piercing reflections. With 9 minutes the shortest composition on the album, but certainly one of the most grandiose and thrillingly rewarding. A shimmering phenomenon of the legendary “The River Of Appearance” is reawaken, the legacy returns… It’s obvious that a true aural bliss awaits here!!! “The Lament Broke” delves into soothingly immersing terrains with calmly gliding and tiding surface with intangibly ephemeral climaxes. A rather meager texture gently closing this gloriously monumental, 65 minutes long performance.

As I have mentioned before, I will always miss vidnaObmana, that’s for sure, but with releases such as Disorientation Flow, I am grieving less and less. Thank you so much, Dirk, for your guitar drone manipulations par excellence!!! Disorientation Flow album is a must-have, I even won’t hesitate to call it another milestone in Dirk Serries’ prolific career of a soundexplorer!!! And since Disorientation Flow CD is available in limited edition of 300 copies, I wouldn’t wait too long with acquiring an own copy. And about the same time when “Disorientation Flow” was released on Projekt, Belgian label Consouling Sounds has published “Buoyant” CD, a collaborative project featuring Dirk Serries and Dutch soundsculptor Rutger Zuydervelt, who is known as Machinefabriek. And another two Dirk’s collaborations involve Japanese droneforgers, Hakobune and Chihei Hatakeyama. “Obscured By Beams Of Sorrow” CD with Hakobune is out since September 2015 on Japanese White Paddy Mountain label, while joint effort with Chihei Hatakeyama is entitled “The Storm Of Silence” and the CD is scheduled to be released during January 2016 on Italian label Glacial Movements. That’s a lot of serious reasons to keep an ear to the ground!!!” Richard Gürtler (Dec 06, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)

DIKEMAN/NOBLE/SERRIES

Power trio  John Dikeman (tenor saxophone), Steve Noble (drums) and Dirk Serries (electric guitar) tours from tomorrow on, promoting their OBSCURE FLUCTUATIONS album on Trost Records.

09/12/2015 – 79 sound, cologne – germany – private studio session
(ltd seating max. 30  – reservations : newwaveofjazz@gmail.com)
10/12/2015 – occii, amsterdam – the netherlands
11/12/2015 – volt, sittard – the netherlands
12/12/2015 – de singer, rijkevorsel – belgium – album release show

To celebrate the short tour, visual artist Jan Kees Helms made this fantastic ‘Hitchcockian’ short film.  Enjoy.