VITAL WEEKLY reviews

DIRK SERRIES – EPITAPH (2CD by Consouling Sounds)
DIRK SERRIES & COLIN WEBSTER – GARGOYLES (CD by Raw Tonk Records)

“While the title ‘Epitaph’ suggests something else, Dirk Serries says goodbye to ambient, but only for now. On the cover he writes that he has been producing ‘vintage ambient’ (his words) for thirty years and that was as Vidna Obmana when he used synthesizers, and with a guitar as Fear Falls Burning and later on under his given name, but it’s time to move on new challenges. Perhaps a bit odd, me think, that he says on the cover “Epitaph is therefore my finest collection of ambient pieces to date”.
The word ‘therefore’ seems a bit odd, and also to say this is the finest could mean the rest of his previous, vast output isn’t as good? Armed with a guitar and sound effects and playing it lived, going straight into the computer. Ten pieces, spanning some ninety minutes of music and Serries delivers what he can do so well, indeed for thirty years. Long sustaining pieces of guitar music, which could just as easily pass on as something played on a synthesizer. And sometimes it sounds indeed very much like a guitar indeed, such as in ‘Formations Of Grace’. Serries waves together long form tones and it moves glacier like around. Slow and massive. Is this the finest collection to date of his ambient
music? I find that very hard to say. Over the years I heard a lot of music by Vidna Obmana, even when it was still hard-core noise in the mid 80s, and also quite some Fear Falls Burning, yet not all of it, so who am I to tell if this is the finest? It is however a very solid work, with Serries knowing exactly what he does and he does that very well, but he has been delivering consistent high quality ambient for many years. He leaves (if he leaves at all, of course) ambient on a very high note.

So what is Serries going to do? That is a bit of a rhetorical question as we already know that since a couple of years he’s also into producing improvised music (see also Vital Weekly 1110 and 1101 for more work in that direction) and one of the persons he regularly plays with is Colin Webster, who handles alto and baritone saxophones. On June 11th 2017 the two of the met up in a studio in London and recorded the seventeen pieces on ‘Gargoyles’. That may sound like a lot of music, but it all happens within the space of twenty-seven minutes. The shortest is 1:01 and the longest 2:20; that is almost punk rock like, and while some of this is certainly chaotic and strange, I don’t think the two set out to create something wild necessarily. It is more about to create something full energy within a very limited time span. There is something Zen like about it. A controlled burst of energy if you will and once that is done, it is time for the next one. The level of control is also to be found within the use of the instruments. Both are recognizable as guitar (without many effects, I would think) and the saxophones,
but especially Serries doesn’t play his teacher ever told him (assuming he had a teacher of course).  Scratching, plucking and hitting, mainly on the fret board, while Webster plays mostly short notes, fierce and loud, or introspective and spacious. Everything is recorded in a very direct way, which makes that the music is very much in your face, but that is what makes this also quite enjoyable. This is overall an excellent improvisation duet.” Vital Weekly – The Netherlands

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