Month: December 2016

DAELMAN/SERRIES/TROCH

DST TRIO – DAELMAN/SERRIES/TROCH (2xTAPE, Tombed Visions)

“Aan de enorme stroom releases van Dirk Series komt geen einde. Maar niets te klagen, want de man uit België staat garant voor kwaliteit, zowel solo als in gezelschap en zowel verkerende in ambientsferen als vrij improviserend. Eind oktober verscheen bij het Britse cassettelabel Tombed Visions Daelman/Serries/Troch, twee tapes waarop de veelzijdigheid van de gitarist wordt geëtaleerd.

Op deze uitgave werkt Serries samen met saxofonist/fluitist Jan Daelman en pianist Thijs Troch. Laatstgenoemde is bekend van Hypochristmutreefuzz en Bulliphant. Samen met Daelman vormt hij het duo Keenroh en beiden spelen ook in het kwartet The Milk Factory. Op Daelman/Serries/Troch spelen zij ieder afzonderlijk met Serries en twee keer gezamenlijk.

Het eerste stuk (‘A’) laat Daelman op saxofoon horen, in wat lijkt een gevecht met de gitaar van Serries, waarbij Daelman vanuit het midden, een constante stroom aan noten producerend, om zich heen slaat, terwijl Serries harkerig daaromheen draait, op onorthodoxe wijze plaagstoten uitdelend. Het is een staaltje vrije improvisatie dat op Colin Websters Raw Tonk-label niet zou misstaan: ongemakkelijk, hortend en stotend, verre van harmonieus en aanvankelijk behoorlijk luisteronvriendelijk, maar intrigerend voor wie de moeite neemt door de lelijkheid aan de oppervlakte heen te luisteren. Daelmans toon is scherp en bijtend en dat past goed bij Serries’ metalige en aritmische spel. Na een kwartier wordt het spel tijdelijk wat minder lawaaiig, maar de onrust blijft. Wat Daelman na minuut vijfentwintig doet, is zonder het te zien niet te achterhalen, maar als een blaasinstrument klinkt het in ieder geval niet. Plots is het even stil, waarna een rustiger maar spannend laatste gedeelte volgt, met Daelman nu op fluit en Serries die met een strijkstok lange noten speelt op zijn gitaar.

‘B’ bestaat uit een aantal losse delen, waarin steeds een andere stemming wordt gevonden. Het is het duet van Serries en Troch, beginnend met een paar lage pianotonen; de beweging zit in de zachtjes daarop reagerende gitaar. Het aftastende spel houdt een tijdje aan, waarbij Troch rechtstreeks op de pianosnaren lijkt te slaan. In het tweede gedeelte voert experimenteerdrift de boventoon, volgen de muzikale ideeën elkaar razendsnel op en tonen de beide muzikanten dat zij qua spelopvatting op elkaar lijken. In het derde deel wordt een start-stop spel gespeeld, met Troch die soms melodieus in de weer is en met een wrijvende en schurende Serries. De sfeer wordt donkerder in het vierde gedeelte, waarin de gitaar gemeen scheurend klinkt en de Troch constrasteert met bijna lyrisch aandoend spel. Vervolgens volgt een zacht percussief stuk. En zo blijf je als luisteraar van de ene verbazing in de andere vallen. Het vorenstaande is slechts een beschrijving van wat in het eerste kwartier gebeurt in het bijna zevenendertig minuten durende ‘B’, dat je muzikaal gezien alle hoeken van de kamer laat zien. Instrumentbeheersing, opperste concentratie en muzikale anarchie gaan hand in hand in dit excellente stuk, dat eindigt met een sombere pianomelodie die vergezeld gaat van licht ontregelende gitaarklanken.

Daelman schakelt over op fluit op ‘C’, het eerste van de twee triostukken. Troch wrijft over de snaren en Serries fluistert als het ware op zijn gitaar. De gespannen rust wordt verstoord door een paar schelle klanken van Troch. De instrumenten kruipen wat klankkleur betreft soms zo dicht naar elkaar toe, dat het zonder te zien wat er gebeurt niet makkelijk is te horen welk instrument je hoort. Dat verandert zodra de piano een laag register opzoekt. Waar Daelman op sax scherp en bijtend voor de dag komt op ‘A’, is dat hier wat minder, en niet alleen door de zachtere klank die de fluit van nature heeft. ‘C’ heeft als geheel een stilstaand karakter, waarbinnen de drie muzikanten aftasten en uitproberen, soms lijkt het wel op kousenvoeten, zonder op elkaars tenen te trappen. Met name Troch weet af en toe toch een gaatje te vinden om wat verstorende geluiden te produceren.

Waar Troch en Daelman op ‘C’ de meest opvallende muzikanten zijn, is ‘D’ helemaal Serries zijn ding. Het is een ambientachtig stuk, maar niet van het brave, gelijkmatige soort. Met name de gemeen klinkende gitaar die opduikt, maakt de sfeer grimmig, onheilspellend. De in de verte klinkende fluit doet beelden uit een spannende western opdoemen. Steeds is er weer die grondtoon van waaruit nieuwe aanvallen van gitaar of piano en gitaar worden uitgevoerd, alsof zij vanachter een rots tevoorschijn komen om hun dodelijke werk te doen. De zinderende spanning zakt geen moment in, blijft tweeëntwintig minuten lang hangen, en het onheil komt dichterbij in dit bloedstollende stuk muziek.

Met zo’n honderdtwintig minuten is Daelman/Serries/Troch een lange zit, maar de veelzijdigheid die op de vier stukken wordt tentoongespreid zorgt ervoor dat verzadiging niet kan toeslaan. Daelman, Serries en Troch brengen muziek die vol verbeeldingskracht zit en volledig overtuigt.” Opduvel – The Netherlands

“Hierop vinden we Thijs Troch en Jan Daelman in gezelschap van gitarist Dirk Serries.
De eerste cassette is voor twee duo’s, met Serries als constante factor. Pure improvisatie is wat we hier krijgen. In het duo met Daelman, hier voor de verandering op altsax, gaat het er daarbij redelijk stevig aan toe en horen we Serries ook op geheel andere wijze dan we meestal van hem gewend zijn. Het is Daelman die hier de toon zet. Pas helemaal tegen het einde, Daelman is inmiddels overgestapt op fluit, krijgt de muziek een meer ambient karakter. In de set met Troch gaat het er rustiger, subtieler aan toe en horen we de beide musici met name als creatieve klankkunstenaars, elkaar aftastend, in een serie improvisaties met elk een andere sfeer.  De tweede cassette bevat een registratie van een concert dat het trio gaf in De Singer, Rijkevorsel op 17 november 2015. Op de eerste kant vinden we een al even subtiele improvisatie, waarin de lange, ambientachtige lijnen opvallen van Daelmans fluit en Serries’ gitaar. Op de tweede kant heeft Serries duidelijk de leiding. Dit is muziek die het beste aansluit bij wat we van de man kennen: duistere, atmosferische muziek. “Draai Om je Oren – The Netherlands

In concert :
15/01/2017 – El Negocito Records, Gent – Belgium
25/01/2017 – De Ruimte, Amsterdam – The Netherlands
08/03/2017 – Hotclub De Gand – Gent – Belgium
11/03/2017 – Musique Kamer Brussel, Brussel – Belgium

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BACKGROUND CURTAIN reviewed

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CELER & DIRK SERRIES – BACKGROUND CURTAIN (CD, Zoharum)

“Collaboration between these two well established artists. Dirk Serries is a Belgian composer who’s probably best known for his work as Vidna Obmana a pseudonym he went under until 2007. These days he works in various guises such as Fear Falls Burning but here on this collaboration with Celer he has chosen to use his birth name.

This album has had a long gestation. It started life back in 2012 when Dirk and Will Long (Celer ) began to exchange some sounds and from the press sheet accompanying this release it seems Will was slightly unsure what do to with Dirk’s guitar based loops. It seems he decided to take the frequencies and shapes of the wave forms from Dirks sounds and create something of his own that mirrored these. It’s explained rather confusingly in the press release and whilst the method is important to the creators perhaps us listeners can just enjoy the sounds for what they are rather than thinking about how they came into being.

There’s two tracks on this short release Above/Below and Below/Above. Both pieces are firmly sitting in the ambient, drone territory with Above/Below having the more stretched out long droney notes as it’s basis and Below/Above having more obvious individual notes moving it along. It almost strays into the instrumental territory once explored by Gong in their heyday with Steve Hillage in the line up.

There is a huge amount of drone work out there these days. And as with noise and power electronics there is so much substandard work that it becomes harder and harder to sometimes find the works that stand out. This album is one of those. Its drone but its drone that actually engages you and makes you listen rather than acts as a backdrop to your life.

As such it’s a worthwhile album to add to your collection and I’d recommend at the very least that you check it out on bandcamp and maybe treat yourself to a physical copy. DB.” Projekt Progress – UK

“Trois notes, il n’en faut pas plus à Celer et à Dirk Serries (Fear Falls Burning, Vidna Obmana) pour commencer une collaboration qui s’avèrera fructueuse. Du Japon du premier à la Belgique du second, les bandes ont dû faire plusieurs fois le voyage, certain !, et il est donc plutôt normal de dire de ces deux plages sont… sidérales.

La première (Above/Below) n’est d’ailleurs (en plus) pas loin d’être sidérante. Ses surplus de couches dévident des câbles de sons qui débordent du chemin des ondes et du chemin des drones. La deuxième (Below/Above) n’est pas la première qu’on aurait passée à l’envers, non. Elle s’en démarque au contraire par son côté « concret » (on peut presque y déceler les instruments qui ont servi à son interprétation : une guitare au bottleneck et un son du genre harpsichord). Moins paisible mais diantrement efficace quand même. De quoi diversifier le propos ambientique de deux maîtres du genre.” Le Son Du Grisli – France

“Already in 2012 Will Long, also known as Celer, and Dirk Serries, also known as Vidna Obmana and Fear Falls Burning (to name a few of his projects) started exchanging some sound material, but it took a full year before Long even had an idea what to do with Serries’ guitar sounds. Long explains this on the press text, but me no understand what he did: “Using the original track that I sent Dirk at the very beginning as a sound source, I shaped it exactly like Dirk’s responding source file – the musical colour and frequencies were the same, but the effects and enveloping was triggered by the waves of Dirk’s track.[…] It may be hard to hear the two sides, but it’s really built by the background curtain, and even if you can’t hear it’s place, it’s definitely there. Where does
one thing begin and another end? Maybe you can hear it?” It may explain the title of the release though. Both of these two pieces work with Serries long sustaining guitar drones sounds, with slowly envelop, overlaid, I guess, with Celer’s own drones, perhaps created by a transformation or two of the original Serries input, but then more stretched out, adding more variations of the same colour to the whole. ‘Above/Below’ is the darker side of the moon here, while the second piece, not surprisingly called ‘Below/Above’, represents the lighter side of the coin. This is music that absolute weightless space stuff, transporting the listener through an endless black universe and the notes of
Serries, especially on ‘Below/Above’ are like little stars at the firmament. Maybe I just wrote that because of the impending Christmas season? I have no idea; it is one of those beautiful shiny winter days and Celer and Dirk Serries provide the perfect soundtrack for such a day, in which everything seems to slow down.” Vital Weekly – The Netherlands

“8.5/10 rating ! Vier Jahre bedurfte es zur Fertigstellung dieser Zusammenarbeit zwischen den Musikern Will Long und Dirk Serries, wobei Ersterer den Grundstein mittels scheinbar unverwertbarer Tonspuren lieferte. Aber manchmal findet sich glücklicherweise doch ein Weg und das Resultat sind zwei längere Vertonungen, die “Background Curtain” füllen. Mit dem dargebotenen Stil passt man sehr gut in das Raster von Zoharum, wo experimentelle Kost und ambiente Klangwelten öfters miteinander harmonieren. So auch in vorliegender Angelegenheit, wo lang gezogene Klanglandschaften dominieren und den Rezipienten durchaus ansprechen können. Warme Atmosphäre ist kein Fremdwort und wer Gedanken schweifen lassen will, der hat hier vielleicht etwas gefunden, um dem trüben Alltag zu entfliehen. Mit dem ersten Teil, “Above/Below” gelingt dies schon sehr gut, wobei “Below/Above” in die gleiche Kerbe geht, was in einem schönen Soundtrack mündet, der bei entsprechender Stimmung als sehr angenehm zu benennen ist. Dabei ist der zweite Teil sogar noch eingängiger ausgefallen, was an der atmosphärischen Melodieführung liegt, welche so etwas wie Wärme und Geborgenheit ausstrahlt. Vorbildlich abgestimmt ist ebenso das Artwork, welches dies harmonische Gesamtbild auch abzurunden vermag.

Eine Voraussetzung zum erfolgreichen Konsum von “Background Curtain” bedarf es nicht, lediglich gilt es die Seele einfach mal baumeln zu lassen, in einem Traum aus ambienten Tondokumenten, die in Sachen Ausstrahlung und Vereinnahmung keinesfalls zu verachten sind. Bin ja mal gespannt, ob es in Zukunft eine weitere Kooperation zwischen den Musikern gibt- ich würde es mir jedenfalls wünschen, da mich “Background Curtain” in vielen Belangen überzeugen konnte. Meine Empfehlung!” Raben Report – Germany

vidnaObmana on bandcamp

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Proud to announce that from today on the official vidnaObmana bandcamp is online.  A process that was under construction for almost two years.  From gathering many of the recordings from the now-defunct tape labels and/or from the personal archives of John Weyden, who kept melticulously all the officious recordings vidnaObmana recorded and gave to his friend.  Focused on the obscure period from 1984 till his first explorations in ambient music (solo and in collaboration with various international musicians and bands, active in the independent cassette scene, like PBK and Big City Orchestra), the music is digitally remastered and saved from the slowly deteriorating original analog 2-track tapes.


To celebrate the lift-off, if you buy the complete catalogue you’ll be able to enjoy a 50% discount thru December 31st 2016.  Time to complete your collection, visit here .


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RESOLUTION HEART cont’d reviews

“For those who are not familiar with Serries’ work, Resolution Heart might be a very interesting record when it comes to texture. The guitar tones that comprise this album are longwinded and often muffled between layers of noise and reverb, but despite its apparent sluggishness, the music still contains an innate touch of violence, which is due to Dirk Serries’ characteristic guitar playing. Underneath all this ambient glimmer, Series is not able to hide the affective spirit of rock and roll, which is striking.

Conceptually, Resolution Heart builds from the abandoned buildings on the cover art, and extends itself to the metaphorical fulfilment of that image in the song title of XXX The Deprivation of Heart. Despite its conceptual ambitions however, Resolution Heart does not attain such a convincing imagery of other records, such as Hauschka’s Abandoned Cities for example. The song titles are effective in denoting a story line of waking up in an abandoned city, with a feeling of solitude being reinforced by the presence of a vast “skye” overhead, but the ties with the music are feeble and the record sounds plainly metropolitan above all.

Album opener, XXVI Epiphany and Isolation has a slow build up in volume, but it immediately sounds and tastes like the grey urban concrete of the big city. Like its name suggests, the song feels like a slow awakening to the sounds of a vast urban landscape, with visions of outstretched skyscrapers and noises of traffic slowly reaching the mind’s eye the listener.

The album has a more refined sound than the collaborative single of the same name with Jesu frontman Justin K. Broadrick (which was released earlier this year), but that does not mean it’s better! Throughout the past three years, Dirk Serries has tirelessly collaborated with other musicians in improvisational live and studio performances, and especially his live recordings have a distinct raw (or rather emotional) edge that this studio album lacks.

Resolution Heart is a monumental effort, but it is over before you know it. The four songs all start by fading in, and ending by fading out, but their underlying souls intertwine creating a solid unity. And that’s what this record does—creating a convincing end to an impressive body of work. There are no loose ends here. With Resolution Heart, Dirk Series leaves the listener in an empty room, closing the door behind him, and taking the heart of his music with him to be heard somewhere else.” Arctic Drones – Turkey

“I received a review copy of this record, Dirk Serries’ final Microphonics release in the post- an actual copy of the record to review, which seems so unusual as to be worth remarking on, despite probably not being especially relevant to anyone reading. Anyway, it arrived on a rainy December afternoon, and the black vinyl and grey cover images certainly seemed to fit well with the grey clouds turning to black night.

At first it most reminds me of Gorecki’s slow unfoldings and painstaking cello sweeps: austere and patient waves of sound in charcoal monochrome, under which minimal fragments of melodies lift their faces, somehow restrained and lavish at once. It strikes the same tone as compatriot Syndrome, but with simpler and subtler tools. The album art, a grey photograph of apartment buildings that’s the same on front and back, at first made me think of a more realistic, bleaker version of the Physical Graffiti sleeve, while fitting in with the black and white architecture imagery on the other covers in the Microphonics series.

That series comprises at least seven or eight previous instalments (the roman numerals mark the tracks), and the approach here is similar to what I’ve heard of them; solo pieces carefully put together with gently undistorted drone guitar, slow washes and precisely controlled dynamics, making much of a narrow set of musical tools. The tracks have elegantly long tail-outs and fade-ins, and the subtitle, resolution heart, is a nice phrase for the effect of such contemplative drones. Experimental in the best way, they’re curious, patient and sensitive explorations of minimal themes which reward attentive listening in the right late-night or otherworldly mindframe.

Music that’s probably not to be called upon greatly often, but sometimes is just right: expansive, balanced between soft sumptuous expansiveness and sombre brooding. So perhaps it does make particular sense that they sent me a copy on record, in that it created its own occasion for listening, removing it from background drones and settling into itself as accompaniment to rainswept evening window-gazing.” Echoes And Dust – UK

“8/10 rating. How have I not heard of this guy? Really. I feel as if I must have been dwelling in a cultural vacuum for the majority of my existence. It’s not as if I’m ignorant of the fields in which he operates, after all. For the unfamiliar, it’s worth taking a moment to check his bio: ‘The Belgian-based artist Dirk Serries has experimented with music on the border between avant-garde, industrial, experimental and ambient for more than 30 years. He released his earliest work behind the pseudonym vidnaObmana up to 2007 when he closed the book on this project (realizing an extensive discography). Other projects like Fear Falls Burning and his Microphonics series made him collaborate with several key-players like Steven Wilson, Justin K. Broadrick, Cult Of Luna, Steve Roach and toured extensively on the sides of Jesu, MONO, Low, My Bloody Valentine and Cult Of Luna.’

‘Epiphany and Isolation’ intermingles broad ambient brushstrokes with the expansive swell of organ. Despite my abject antipathy to religion in general, and in particular the trappings of Christian ritual, I cannot help but be moved by the depth and tone of the organ. The sound as of and in itself stirs something incommunicable, indescribable, but which conveys a spirituality beyond religion as its notes ascend to the skies and beyond. The long, multifaceted drones

The alum’s four pieces are mellifluous, amorphous and delicately sculpt intangibles. These are compositions of the vaguest of forms, yet which stiff offer a sow-moving sense of release.


‘Swept to the Skye’ evokes, on a highly personal level, the atmosphere of the Isle of Skye, the magical, mystical island off the West coast of Scotland. Anyone who has observed, first-hand the breathtaking landscape shaped by the inhospitable Cuillin mountains and the awe-inspiring Old Man of Storr will likely have an understanding of the way in which the supple drones reflect the immense grandeur of this unspoilt, prehistoric landscape, which, in its remoteness, is even now possible to observe in the absence of other humans.
The final track, the fourteen-minute ‘The Deprivation of Heart’ is the sparsest of the set, a forlorn piece, whereby elongated drones ebb and flow in a thin, airless atmosphere.Resolution Heart is a magnificently restrained suite of compositions, which flow together to create an absorbing, unified whole in which the listener can fully immerse themselves, lose themselves, and find themselves once more.” Whisperinandhollerin – Ireland.

“The final instalment in Dirk Serries‘ long-running series of releases, Resolution Heart sets a fittingly uplifting mood for the end of a process that started with the first Microphonics CD in 2008. Presented on heavyweight vinyl (with a limited boxed art edition available too), the LP bids farewell to Serries’ eight-year exploration of the dynamics of tone, texture and timbre, the music delivered with a distinctly different atmosphere than when in his alternate drone guise of Fear Falls Burning.

Possessed of a mellifluous grandeur floating in on rolling organ(ic) drones, the album’s track titles alone are enough to communicate his intent, such as “Epiphany and Isolation” and “I Communicate Silence”. The latter hints at Serries’ subtly-applied technique of opening with up to a minute’s worth of barely-audible rising harmonics on each piece. This gradual sweep soon fills the air with the sound of cascading slow reverberations and plangent microsurges that weave a magical spell constructed of nothing more (nor less) than sound waves and sense impressions, and the effect can be overwhelming, almost beatific.

a magical spell constructed of nothing more (nor less) than sound waves and sense impressions

Likewise, the silence that he communicates returns to bring forth a swirling swarm of effects-riding half-melodies that fill spaces somewhere between those occupied by the likes of, say, Main and Michael Rother, shimmering and salient among gentle ambient structures, content to take the long, slowly transforming road down into the valleys where quietude returns among the softly warming crackle of the vinyl run-out groove on side one.

If there’s an overarching theme to Resolution Heart then “Swept to The Skye” builds strongly upon it, a hearty bass presence swelling under the treble layer until it nigh-on rattles the windows and shakes the firmament itself in its steadfast determination to evoke feelings of both breathless incipient dread and the approach of some kind of sublime, angelic rapture

If there’s an overarching theme to Resolution Heart then “Swept to The Skye” builds strongly upon it, a hearty bass presence swelling under the treble layer until it nigh-on rattles the windows and shakes the firmament itself in its steadfast determination to evoke feelings of both breathless incipient dread and the approach of some kind of sublime, angelic rapture. The cleanliness with which Serries achieves his sound comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with his alternate identity as vidnaObmana, and here he takes the restrictions of time and space as blessings to be worked within, giving the whole a singular identity.

Often understated and happy to let nothingness and absence be active choices, Resolution Heart saves the final melancholy for Microphonics part XXX, “The Deprivation Of Heart”. This is a piece which breathes with the listener, unfolds its sorrows at parting and lifts up into one last pounding-hearted trembling of the beams, the delayed departure shuffling off in dustmotes and drones that conclude the series with no bangs, no whimpers, but one perfectly drawn-out fade.” Freq – UK

“Exploring a sense of the surreal Dirk Serries’ Microphonics creates a lovely swirl of sound with “microphonics XXVI-XXX : resolution heart”. With a glacial grace and grandeur, the way melodies emerge out of the dense drones is simply stunning. Small sounds gain such significant in these ambient symphonies. Elements of the sound hark back to the same pioneering spirit of William Basinski’s work, as a similar kind of nostalgic element drives them forward. The sprawling ambitious focus works wonders for the sound, as the way that the pieces unfold results in a slowly shifting sound, one that resembles more a force of nature than a traditional approach to music.

Great waves of distorted masses hang overhead on the album opener “XXVI epiphany and isolation”. On this piece Dirk Serries’ Microphonics lets the many layers come together. The gradual ebb and flow of the piece results in a soothing calming sensibility. Far denser in texture is the labyrinth work of “XXIX i communicate silence”. Various glistening tones come together to create the angelic hue of “XXVII swept to the skye” where the many textures result in a wonderful amorphous cloud of sound. By far the best track on the album is the album closer “XXX the deprivation of heart”. Gentle at first the languid pacing has great effect as it simply blooms into such lush worlds.

Timeless and infinitely tasteful, Dirk Serries’ Microphonics delivers an all-engrossing blurred beauty with “microphonics XXVI-XXX : resolution heart”.” Beachsloth