Month: November 2017

Merchants Of Air reviews

GRAHAM DUNNING & DIRK SERRIES – Live In The Lowlands

“The output of Dirk Serries seems neverending, which coincidentally can also be said by the length of most of his works. Not that I mind, on the very contrary. In a way, Serries has been in my living room more than any of my friends and family. His solo works and his releases with Yodok III are constants here, played on an almost daily basis.
To be honest, I cannot say that about Graham Dunning. This is actually the first time I see his name so I’m not familiar with his music. Yet, judging from what I’m listening to at this very moment, that might change soon. Dunning is a sound artist, always exploring the possibilities of music.

This album is a registration of two different concerts. The first one having taken place in Rijkevorsel, Belgium, while the other one recorded at De Ruimte, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Both tracks share a passion for experimenting with sound. Somehow, it feels like most of the experimentation comes from Dunning. Serries’ lingering and droning guitar sound is not the constant here. The constant seems to be a form of free jazz and the chemistry of live improvisation, something these two artists know quite a lot of.

When I say “free jazz”, don’t expect confusing rhythms and over-the-top saxophone solos. The whole album maintains a slow and somewhat mellow tone. I guess “ambient jazz” is a better phrase. Drones, soundscapes, strange noises, turntables and unidentified object create a strange but constantly evolving sound that demands to be explored. Different sound float in an out, leaving the listener somewhat estranged and confused. In a good way, obviously. This is just a remarkable album, one every jazz/ambient/drone/experimental fan should own.” Merchants Of Air – Belgium

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Can This Even Be Called Music reviews

KODIAN TRIO – II (LP, Trost Records)

“The second album of the Belgian free jazz trio is even better than their first. The dynamics between the guitar, the saxophone, and the drums are wild and untamed, almost akin to completely expressionist music – that’s if it isn’t exactly this already! The sax surges are often impressive, if not downright surprising, while the drums seem to be able to keep the rhythmic section endlessly interesting, with the guitarist’s inventive patchwork filling the pieces with its own strange musical context. It’s great!” Can This Even Be Called Music –

DRAAI OM JE OREN reviews

Martine Verhoeven & Dirk Serries – ‘Innocent As Virgin Wood’ (New Waves Of Jazz, 2017) Quartet & Quintet – ‘Double Vortex’ (New Waves Of Jazz, 2017) Kodian Trio – ‘II’ (TROST, 2017)

Gitarist Dirk Serries is het type musicus dat zichzelf iedere keer weer opnieuw uitvindt. Ooit was hij geliefd in de hoek van de ambient onder zijn alias Vidna Obmana. Zo geliefd dat hij er nog jaren mee door had kunnen gaan. Maar hij wierp zijn alias af, ging verder onder zijn eigen naam en verwierf bekendheid met een heftigere en duisterdere vorm van dronemuziek, onder andere met zijn trio Yodok III. Serries heeft echter meer in zijn mars, getuige ook het net verschenen album dat hij met Martina Verhoeven opnam, ‘Innocent As Virgin Wood’, en dat in niets lijkt op wat we tot nu toe van hem hoorden. Verhoeven op piano en Serries op akoestische gitaar en zonder elektronica in een uit vijf delen bestaande suite. Wat hier vooral opvalt is het uitgebeende, bijna schrale karakter van de muziek, die ongeveer evenveel stilte als noten bevat. Hier geen ritme, geen melodie, louter een aaneenschakeling van op zichzelf staande klanken, teruggebracht tot de naakte essentie. Vertolkt door twee musici die elkaar in opperste concentratie aftasten.

De eerste maten van ‘Double Vortex’ maken al duidelijk dat we hier met een totaal ander album van doen hebben. Van een kwartet met saxofonisten John Dikeman en Colin Webster verwachten we overigens niet anders. Beiden staan bekend als blazers die alles uit hun instrument halen wat erin zit en niet vies zijn van een portie fikse dramatiek. Het betreft hier opnames in de Londense Vortex, uitgebracht als ‘Session One’, bovengenoemde musici aangevuld met drummer Andrew Lisle en ‘Session Two’ waarop het kwartet is uitgebreid met een derde saxofonist: Alan Wilkinson. In beide sessies verrast het kwartet / kwintet ons op een rijke klankwereld. Soms vrij ingetogen, tegendraads schurend – een prachtig voorbeeld hiervan zit vrijwel aan het einde van de eerste sessie – maar vaker onstuimig knallend en verontrustend scherp. Maar altijd overtuigend en meeslepend. Aan alles hoor je: hier wordt gemusiceerd met hart en ziel, hier wordt de kern geraakt.

Met Webster en Lisle vormt Serries ook het Kodian Trio. In 2016 zag het eerste album van dit trio het licht en eind oktober komt de tweede uit, als lp bij het vermaarde Oostenrijkse label TROST. Simpelweg ‘II’ geheten. Op dit album valt met name het enerverende, getormenteerde spel op van Webster, terwijl Serries en Lisle het vuur op de achtergrond iedere keer weer flink opstoken. Een mooi rustpunt in al het geweld is het eerste deel van het derde titelloze stuk op de A-kant van de plaat. Lisle legt hier een prachtig subtiel ritmisch patroon, waar Webster zeer ingetogen, bijna gevoelig op aansluit. Het tekent dit trio dat het hier niet bij blijft, dat de spanning gaandeweg weer stijgt en dat Serries met zijn elektrische gitaar uiteindelijk aan het subtiele spel een einde maakt. Het stuk eindigt met wellicht wel Websters beste solo. Amechtig piepend, krassend en pruttelend begeeft hij zich naar het einde. De B-kant van het album kent meer rustige momenten. Het bijna zoekende spel van het trio in het tweede stuk mag bijzonder genoemd worden, klinkend als een ingetogen dialoog, maar vooral de solo van Webster in het derde stuk. Als een soort spiegelbeeld van de eerdergenoemde solo. Hier hanteert hij de circular breathing-techniek op uiterst subtiele wijze, zeer bescheiden ondersteund door Lisle op bekkens. De saxofonist voegt daar een verbazingwekkende serie vreemde geluiden aan toe. Als Serries zich erbij voegt, is dat eveneens fluisterzacht. Eindigen doen we in stijl, met een intieme, door Webster geblazen melodietje.

Maar hoe mooi ook die cd’s en ‘lp’s, een man als Dirk Serries moet je live beleven. Dat kan gelukkig regelmatig. Bijzonder in dat verband gaat ongetwijfeld zijn residentie met zijn project Tonus bij Jazzcase in Dommelhof, Neerpelt worden. Bekroond met een concert op 16 november. Naast Serries zelf vinden we daarin Verhoeven en Webster, Jan Daelman op fluit, Nils Vermeulen op contrabas en George Hadow op drums.” Draai Om Je Oren – The Netherlands

KODIAN TRIO’s II receives rave reviews

“4 out of 5. Europe’s free jazz scene continues to race forward, to the delight of its small but ardent fan base. The self-described “improvising power unit” Kodian Trio is doing its part to keep things hopping.

Featuring Dirk Serries  on electric guitar,  Andrew Lisle  on drums and Colin Webster on alto saxophone, the three-piece recorded its second album at the Sunny Side Inc. studio in Brussels, Belgium. It’s a trip.

For the uninitiated, Webster and Lisle are both active improv players that have been steadily growing their respective audiences with each project. Serries’ background is a bit more varied. The guitarist had his start in industrial and ambient music before turning to improvisational jazz. He recorded under the name Vidna Obmana between 1984 and 2007.

What will strike you first on this six-track effort is the extraordinary mix of Webster’s saxophone and Serries’ guitar. Despite the fact that Webster used just one instrument and Serries just one pedal effect, both are way out there. This could come across as a contest for attention. On the contrary, Serries’ jagged-edge playing underscores Webster’s delivery beautifully. Imagine a modern dance piece performed on the edge of a cliff.

That intricacy extends to Lisle’s drum kit. Despite the lack of elbow room, his playing provides an entirely separate focal point. You will find yourself distracted by his bandmates repeatedly. But he will pull you right back. Lisle adds a dimension to the album that may be understated at times, but packs a wallop where it’s needed most.

Kodian Trio have only been together since 2015. London’s Café Oto served as a fitting birthplace. Perhaps the album’s final track—in which Webster (a self-confessed metal head) blows kisses of various size and shape through his saxophone—is a kind of love letter to what The Guardian called “Britain’s coolest venue.”

Indeed, there is a playfulness inherent in the work that sets the Kodians apart from free jazz groups intent on testing their listeners. This light-heartedness is at least partly due to how often the trio plays together. (They seem to thrive on back-to-back performances.) All three give Sunny Side high marks, and describe the session as smooth and problem-free.” All About Jazz

“Neste segundo álbum do trio formado por Colin Webster (sax alto), Dirk Serries (guitarra) e Andrew Lisle (bateria), seis novas faixas são exploradas, metade em cada lado do vinil (edição limitada de 300 cópias). Com um free impro vigoroso e cheio de nuances, o Kodian Trio exibe formas amplas de investigar as vias improvisativas, indo de temas breves (3 min) a outros de extensão mais longa (até 11 min), sempre variando os enfoques. O tema mais extenso, que fecha o lado A, começa, por exemplo, em modo contido, com Lisle tocando as peles pontualmente, um som aqui, outro ali, sendo seguido primeiramente pelo sax, que destila notas espaçadas, até a entrada da guitarra ir esquentando as coisas, que já soltarão fagulhas lá pelos quatro minutos. Em outro extremo, o breve tema que abre o álbum já vem em modo alta voltagem desde o início. Um dos pontos elevados do conjunto (ao menos no que se refere ao sax) está no segundo tema exibido. Ali temos Webster em seu melhor, destilando um sopro enérgico e muito intenso, daqueles momentos que esquentam os ouvidos de pronto. ” Free Form Free Jazz – Brazil

Q&A with KODIAN TRIO

“AllAboutJazz.com was kind enough to add me to its list of contributors last month. My first post focused on the great jazz drummer Abbey Rader, who has two terrific new albums out.

I’ve just submitted a review of Kodian Trio’s II, a strong six-track effort scheduled for a Nov. 17 release. The band features Dirk Serries on electric guitar, Andrew Lisle on drums and Colin Webster on alto saxophone. This Q&A was part of my research.

How does this differ from other projects the band members work on?

Serries: For me I always considered KT to be the one and only “free jazz” band I’m in. From day one we approached our trio somehow, musically that is, as a more playful entity than something that is determined to cause mayhem, and play only loud and intense concerts.

Especially now with the second album we really reached a new way of playing together. Perhaps a bit more musical while keeping control over the abstractness and free improv. KT became a trio, to my ears, that can be both playful and restrained at the same time. A true free trio.

Lisle: Out of all the freely improvised trios I’m part of, Kodian Trio is the one with the most time spent performing back-to-back gigs. This time playing night after night, even for relatively short periods, gives the trio a natural telepathy which impacts the way we interact on stage and in the studio.

Webster: For me, all the projects I work on are different – some more so than others. Kodian Trio is a meeting point for a lot of my interests in improvised music, and where that crosses over into noise, drone, rock and so on.

The playing is so intricate. Was it a difficult album to record?

Serries: I don’t think it was, not to my knowledge. It was intense for sure as with every take you had to be 200% focused. But thanks to the great live room acoustics of the Sunny Side Inc. studio we performed and recorded the album without any major obstacles, and almost every song back to back. It was a really smooth process. That year [2016] we were also playing together a lot and that truly enhanced our communication through sound. I personally kept on downsizing my pedalboard until just one pedal effect while Colin dedicated himself to the alto saxophone only. The live experience, each of us finding our own tune, sound and timbre and the respectful communication boosted us to record this so-called difficult second album.

Lisle: If anything, this session was one of the easiest I’ve done due to the amazing sound at Sunny Side Inc. studios.

Webster: The playing is intricate, and the sound is certainly dense in places, but it wasn’t a struggle at all. We had been playing a lot together by the time we recorded this album, and had reached a point where we could easily transition between very dense, and also very sparse, or ambient playing.

Any reference points I can share? Band member favourites, currently listening to, etc. 

Lisle: At the moment I’m really into: Don Cherry & Ed Blackwell – Mu, James Blood Ulmer – Tales of Captain Black, Booker Ervin – Freedom Book and everything Eric Dolphy ever recorded.

Webster: I’ve been on the road a lot lately, and usually listen to a lot of metal when I’m driving! Other than that, a lot of Last Exit/Bill Laswell stuff. Also really loved the latest Dave Rempis albums.” Baddpress – UK