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SCATTERWOUND LIVE

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“In het buitengebied van Hunsel, een klein dorp in Midden-Limburg, ligt Atelier OZO, gespecialiseerd in product- en meubelontwerp. Oprichter Eric Wijffelaars heeft een oude boerderij omgeturnd tot een ruim atelier, inclusief tuin met een zelfgebouwd podium waarop met enige regelmaat optredens plaatsvinden.
In Sittard is JazzBlazzt gevestigd, een non-profitorganisatie die zich ten doel stelt een podium te bieden aan alle soorten jazz en experimentele muziek. Vaak vinden de optredens plaats in Poppodium Volt in Sittard, maar voor de concerten van Scatterwound en Stratosphere wordt uitgeweken naar de fraaie locatie in Hunsel.

De optredens vinden plaats in de open lucht. Helaas verkeren de weergoden vandaag niet in beste stemming, want hoewel is voorspeld dat het in de avond droog zal worden, gaat het gaandeweg regenen. Maar lang leve de partytent, waardoor de bezoekers toch droog blijven tijdens het luisteren naar de experimentele muziek.

Scatterwound

Scatterwound bestaat uit de Belgische gitarist Dirk Serries en de Duitse gitarist N (Hellmut Neidhardt). Beide muzikanten bevinden zich in de experimentele hoek, waarbij ambient, drone en noise de toverwoorden zijn, hoewel Serries zich de laatste jaren ook steeds meer ontpopt als freejazz-gitarist. Serries en N kennen elkaar al tien jaar, maar hebben als duo nog niet veel muziek uitgebracht. Het tweetal werkte samen met Aidan Baker op de bij Midira Records verschenen dubbelelpee Enomeni en tijdens het in februari van dit jaar gehouden Moving Noises Festival is een tape (0.0) van Serries en N verschenen, die helaas is uitverkocht. In de bescheiden output van Scatterwound komt verandering, want de heren hebben een drietal albums opgenomen die in de komende jaren moeten verschijnen.

Net na het concert van Stratosphere begint het in Hunsel hard te regenen. Omdat het er niet naar uitziet dat de neerslag snel zal stoppen, besluit Scatterwound in de regen van start te gaan. Uiteraard is het podium overdekt, zodat het slechte weer de performance niet in de weg staat. Wel betekent het dat het publiek, schuilend onder twee partytenten, wat verder weg staat van het podium dan bij Stratosphere het geval was.

Serries en N opereren veel abstracter dan Ronald Mariën. Tijdens het optreden bij Atelier OZO valt geen flard van een melodie te ontwaren. Het zijn langgerekte tonen die de dienst uitmaken. Dat met een totaal gebrek aan melodie en ritme toch spannende muziek is te maken, bewijst Scatterwound gedurende zijn set. Er is geen sprake van een voorwaartse beweging, maar beweging is er wel degelijk en moet gezocht worden in de dynamiek waarmee het duo speelt. Het tweetal schuwt het maken van een flinke bak herrie niet en het volume staat bij tijd en wijle erg hoog. Het draagt bij aan de fysieke ervaring die de harde muziek van het duo bewerkstelligt.

Het concert vangt zachtjes aan met een hoge, iele drone. De twee gitaristen communiceren met geluid, voortgebracht door hun gitaren en effecten. Opvallend is dat de klanken die de Belg en de Duitser uit hun instrumenten halen bijzonder goed op elkaar aansluiten, maar zonder dat dit leidt tot een harmonisch klinkend geheel. De drones die worden geproduceerd zijn niet lieflijk maar gemeen, ook als het volume afneemt. Het zorgt ervoor dat iedere klank met spanning geladen is en dat maakt weer dat de luisterervaring een enerverende is. De eerste geluidsuitbarsting is een plotselinge, alsof iemand de volumeknop ineens opendraait. Serries bespeelt zijn gitaar met een strijkstok en een e-bow. Wat N op zijn gitaar uitspookt is moeilijk na te gaan omdat hij zijn gitaarspel vaak aan het zicht onttrekt door zijn instrument richting versterkers te wenden. De beide muzikanten spelen hun spel met klanken en dynamiek beheerst, gecontroleerd en met verbeeldingskracht.

Binnen de soms luide noise bestaat ook ruimte voor subtiliteit. Halverwege het concert wordt het volume getemperd en voert zacht gitaarspel van N de boventoon. Op de achtergrond woedt echter een gitaarstorm, gecreëerd door Serries. Die storm neemt in kracht toe, wat voor N het teken is om steeds luider en gemener te gaan spelen. Tegen het einde ontaardt de muziek in een gierende bak noise die de trommelvliezen doet trillen. Het knappe is dat ook in die fase de controle steeds aanwezig is. Alle effecten, fuzz en distortion belanden exact daar waar het door Serries en N gepland is.

De noise wordt afgebouwd en het concert wordt uitgeluid met een wegstervende gitaarklank van Serries. Het is inmiddels gestopt met regenen, maar al was het nog steeds met bakken uit de hemel gekomen, het had dit spannende concert niet kunnen versjteren.” Opduvel – The Netherlands

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The Storm Of Silence

“Inseguendo l’ultima luce. Due esploratori dispersi tra ghiaccio e blu, laddove il silenzio può essere talmente assoluto da divenire suono altro. La fotografia di Bjarne Riesto e la musica di Chihei Hatakeyama e Dirk Serries costituiscono un unicum intitolato “The Storm Of Silence” (2016), uno splendido ossimoro. L’album inaugura la seconda fase della Glacial Movements di Alessandro Tedeschi, al traguardo dei dieci anni di attività, e invita, per l’ennesima volta, l’ascoltatore a meditare, in scia a un flusso sonoro suddiviso in quattro lunghi brani, o movimenti, affatto tempestosi e neppure silenti.

“The Storm Of Silence” è un progetto di medio respiro, ma delicato e avvincente come pochi altri in circolazione. La collaborazione a quattro mani è tra un giapponese e un belga, due artisti di grande esperienza e, soprattutto, due sognatori a occhi aperti. Distanti migliaia di chilometri, separati dalla lingua, ma emotivamente vicini. Difficile conteggiare le release di Chihei Hatakeyama e Dirk Serries affidate, spesso, a label di caratura internazionale. Entrambi a loro agio con l’informe materia ambient. Musica ideale per punteggiare condizioni estreme, come il Mar Glaciale Artico al crepuscolo.

Soundscaper vitale il primo, oscuro manipolatore il secondo. Mai incontratisi nel corso delle rispettive vite. Nel momento in cui Dirk Serries finalizza con Hakobune “Obscured By Beams Of Sorrow” (2015), un album rilasciato per conto della White Paddy Mountain gestita da Chihei Hatekeyama, i dialoghi tra i due prendono un’altra piega. Meno prospettica e più impressionista. Le loro comunicazioni si sono, infatti, evolute in un proficuo scambio di suoni, con il produttore giapponese pronto a modificare il suo tipico approccio a favore di un’inedita espressione di isolazionismo in note.

Simile a qualcosa cui si assiste in lontananza all’orizzonte, qualcosa di poco concreto e difficile da definire. Un feeling consolidatosi con Alessandro Tedeschi circa una possibile uscita. Elaborare il concept è stato questione di un istante, il mio lavoro con Chihei Hatekayama è su misura per l’inverno. paesaggi ghiacciati, una condizione di isolamento e spazi desolati. Quando la natura ha assunto connotati più lineari e meno colorati, ma dotati di forza e austerità, Glacial Movements è diventato l’approdo sicuro per il nostro album.

Il norvegese, invece, l’idioma comune. Kulde (freddo), Uvaer (cattivo tempo), Fryst (congelato), Hvit (bianco) sono parti di unico scenario incontaminato, finanche romantico. Chihei Hatekeyama e Dirk Serries si ergono a viandanti su un mare di ghiaccio. Le loro tracce sono abbastanza uniformi: rare le variazioni, occasionali le tensioni. È semmai un certo calore a propagarsi nell’aria al calar della nebbia. Il rigore del gelo lascia il passo a differenti forme di armonia. La risonanza di luoghi remoti è favorita dal ricorso a una rarefatta stratificazione sonora, da abbandono sensoriale.

Le alternanze tonali si susseguono al pari di nuove visioni. Le note allungate all’infinito colorano gli stati d’animo. Dalle sinuose modulazioni di Kulde alla stasi apparente di Uvaer, lievemente scossa da riverberi sotterranei, il passo è breve e mai faticoso. La chitarra e il pianoforte contribuiscono a elevare la natura immaginata, a fronte dello smarrimento dell’uomo, come la reale protagonista dei quarantadue minuti di “The Storm Of Silence”. Il bordone si staglia, invece, con rinnovata forza in Fryst fino a liquefarsi in profonda malinconia durante la conclusiva Hvit. Tenue e avvolgente.” Souterraine – Italy

The Face That Must Die

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“Originally released in 1988 on cassette (and under the name Vidna Obmana as the project was styled in those days, rather than the later vidnaObmana), The Face That Must Die is very a much a release redolent of its post-industrial musical era, but still holds an effective and occasionally gruesome fascination thirty years later.

Following an introduction from Trev Ward of The Order Ov Wolves (who also helped release the cassette version), whose slightly portentous but ultimately a somewhat jejune menace is typical of the age (see also the hilariously camp but still strangely unnerving James Havoc‘s Church Of Raism — released on Creation, of all labels), the remastered and expanded CD slips from tape-loop miasma to queasily (re)percussive orchestrations as found on “Sweat Sessions” parts 1 and 2, Dirk Serries deploying a battery of synthesizers, turntables and shortwave radios to often mesmerising and macabre effectOld Captain have gone to town on the artwork for the new edition too, and where the original tape was housed in what looks like a photocopied sleeve in best cassette culture fashion, the CD gets stark monochrome reproductions of various gruesome woodcuts from European history printed on a four-panel digipak.

Time may not have treated some of the more beat-heavy moments so well, though they stand up fairly by comparison to many black-clad, gloom-laden acts of the late Eighties, but the swirling walls of drone and FX-riding swarms of sound on tracks like “Proto Anguish” retain their hypnotic sense of uncertainty tinged with woozy dread. Listen to a track like “Bring Out Your Dead”, and with its pinging tape loops and heaving bass undertow, and it’s also easy to fast-foward a few decades into the retro lo-fi blasted radiophonic landscapes of the likes of Ekoplekz or Ghost Box releases.

Likewise, the cycling compressed throb of “Bondage Doom To Creator” is possessed of a particular texture and feel that comes only from magnetic tape manipulations, heaving with heavily compressed presence and a slurred smearing of sound that hardware audio engineers might spend thousands reproducing faithfully in the digital realm. Throw in the layers upon layers of more effects, and it’s a seriously mind-melting traipse through the audio underworld at times, bouncing unpleasantries off the speakers like the world’s about to end.

What goes around certainly comes around, and The Face That Must Die is both well worth revisiting or discovering for the first time too.” Freq UK/Antron S Meister – UK

Available from Old Captain Records  :

 

 

BACKGROUND CURTAIN reviewed

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“On Background Curtain (ZOHARUM ZOHAR 129-2), we have a collaboration between Celer and Dirk Serries. Celer, i.e. the American Will Long, is familiar for his minimal ambient music which can be quite beautiful on occasion, and his Inside The Head of Gods was judged by us as a “masterpiece of understatement”. Belgian droner Dirk Serries used to be Vidna Obmama throughout the 1980s, and also recorded as Fear Falls Burning, a project where the weapon of choice was a guitar.

I suppose both players have an interest in long tones, subtle shifts of timbre, and a creative approach which involves much processing work. Processing is certainly the hallmark of Background Curtain. In fact it seems to be the basis for the entire piece. Celer sent a tape to Dirk one fine day in 2012. The time-stretched segment of collaged work was, to its creator, “puzzling and unworkable”. Yet Dirk came through and rallied like a Hessian, and returned something to Celer. At this point the tape-trading story becomes unclear to me, but it seems that Dirk didn’t actually rework the original unworkable tapes, and instead produced something entirely new while he was listening to them. Another year goes by, and Celer (clearly not a man to rush into things) has the brilliant idea of mashing up the new Dirk Serries music with his original source recording. He got to work behind his multi-tasking processor desk. “The musical colour and frequencies were the same,” he assures us, “but the effects and enveloping were triggered by the waves of Dirk’s track”. This feels a little sketchy, but I think I get the general idea, and I can understand why creators would wish to protect their working methods by shrouding them in vagueness and ambiguity.

Two long pieces ended up being pressed on the present CD as a result of this long and drawn-out creative process – ‘Above/Below’ and ‘Below/Above’. The first one is a slow-moving blanket of swaddling ambient sounds where everything sounds processed and unrecognisable, yet not to the point of becoming saccharine goo. On the second piece, it’s just about possible to discern some guitar notes, keening their forlorn cries like slowed-down seagull effects from a Bill Nelson performance. However, there’s no real point in trying to unbake this sonic pie; the point that Celer wishes we would concentrate on is the presence of what he calls the “background curtain”, presumably referring to his original “puzzling and unworkable” source material. I think he’s right to call it a curtain; it’s certainly not rigid enough to be called a spine or backbone. “Even if you can’t hear its place, it’s definitely there,” he assures us. “Maybe you can hear it?” The Sound Projector – UK

“Background Curtain” is the effect of a teaming between two known and respected old ambient wolves. Will Long, hiding behind Celer moniker has released dozens of materials. And I mean literally; only this year already four full length materials are out. Check his Bandcamp – a lot of his albums you’ll find there to download with the “name your price” option. Dirk Serries is no less prolific. His main project is Vidna Obmana, now inactive but leaving a great legacy and sometimes coming back to us with the archive compendiums, re-releases of the old tapes and so on. Like the resurrecting of his classic cassette “The Face That Must Die” which was reissued only a few days ago by the Ukrainian Old Captain label. Now Dirk works under his own name and also is a member of several collectives, also those outside the ambient microcosmos, like Yodok III, an impressive experimental jazz ensemble.

Dirk Serries simply loves to share and mix his musical thoughts and ideas with other artists. I mean just check his list of accomplices in sound manipulations: Steve Roach, Alio Die, Asmus Tietchens, Jesu, Aidan Baker and I could go on and on. Will Long doesn’t have as much joint works in his resume, but the ones I know are truly exceptional, like the those with Japanese ambient craftmen, Hakobune or Yui Onodera. So it isn’t that surprising that their paths have eventually crossed and the final effect is now available thanks to Zoharum Records from Poland.

They’ve never met actually. Will made a track, he sent it to Dirk, asking him to process it one way or another. So he did, sent it back, Will has treated the material with further manipulations and so “Background Curtain” was born. No big philosophy behind that, no grand words nor ideas dealing with the crucial world problems or philosophical concepts. It’s just a friendly initiative of two experienced ambient musicians who know exactly their job and what this music is all about. It’s a two track work, based on drones constructed of synths and electric guitars. These are improvised, abstract soundscapes floating in the air and raising the feeling of surreal melancholy. The vast use of reverb makes me think of these compositions as aural stains, clouds without sharp edges. It’s ambient by definition, like suspended in time and space, sometimes similar to the works by Robert Rich or Steve Roach.

If you know their previous works, especially Celer albums you may be surprised by the relatively short duration of the album as it is around 35 minutes long. Will Long likes the more epic forms, at least when it comes to his individual works. After all, the name obliges to something, right? Seriously though, I noticed lately that I feel more and more tired with the 60+ minutes releases (unless these are Mathias Grassow albums), so for this moment it is quite an optimal amount of music from these two ambient warhorses. Not groundbreaking, but an easily recommendable piece for all the drone lovers out there.” Santa Sangre Magazine – Poland

“Bei einem Dauerproduzenten wie Will Long alias Celer, der keine Pause zu kennen scheint und in den letzten Jahren dutzende Releases herausgehauen hat, bleibt es nicht aus, dass sich der eine oder andere Entwurf als Sackgasse erweist, auf die der eigene kreative Fluss mit einer Blockade reagiert. Manchmal mag der Papierkorb der beste Freund des Schaffenden sein, doch wenn da Gefühl nicht losbekommt, dass in einem scheinbar unbearbeitbaren Fragment doch noch Potenzial steckt, liegen zwei Lösungen nahe: Die eine wäre, etwas Zeit verstreichen zu lassen und ich dem Material später erneut zu nähern, mit er entsprechenden Distanz, die es wie das Werk einer anderen Person erscheinen lässt. Die andere wäre, auf Kollaboration zu setzen und Kollegen mit der Dekonstruktion des Stoffes zu betrauen.

Long hat sich im Entstehungsprozess der hier vorliegenden Aufnahmen für beides entschieden, und so entstand über einen Zeitraum von rund vier Jahren im Austausch mit Dirk Serries (Fear Falls Burning, Vidna Obmana), den er zunächst ohne viel Hoffnung anleierte, doch noch ein ganzes Album, dem man eines schon mal bescheinigen darf: Es wirkt derart homogen und harmonisch, dass man ihm die verquere Vorgeschichte kaum anmerkt.

„Background Curtain“ ist ein sanft dröhnendes und angenehm schwermütiges Ambientalbum geworden, dessen lange und weit ausgreifende Soundscapes auch durch die ungewöhnliche Färbung der Sound an Substanz gewinnt. Gerade in ruhigeren Momenten der gemach an und abschwellenden Klänge blitzt immer mal die (trügerische?) Illusion ortbarer Instrumente auf, eine Schiffssirene, eine Klarinette, das Läuten einer Kirchenglocke oder raue Gitarren. Doch die Klangquellen sind nicht so relevant, erfüllen solche Momente doch vor allem die Funktion, den Hörer nicht vollends der Einlullung preiszugeben. Ist die Aufmerksamkeit erst entsprechend geschärft, dann ist der düstere Untergrund aus atonalem Rauschen und Rumoren immer deutlicher zu hören, ebenso die kleinen exaltierten Synthietupfer, die vereinzelt aus dem melierten Soundgemisch herausspringen.

Beide Musiker haben schon Ereignisreicheres produziert als die beiden ausladenden Tracks, die dem ursprünglichen Material eine jeweils andere Gestalt verpassen. Wer also im Ambien Spannung (oder auch so etwas wie Berieselung) sucht, der soltle sich zuvor die im Netz verfügbaren Auszüge anhören. Bestens bedient werden Freunde der subtilen Regression und alle, die mit Vorliebe Verstecktes aufspüren. (J.G.)” African Paper – Germany

“La polacca Zoharum produce nell’ottobre dello scorso anno questa collaborazione tra due mostri sacri della musica ambient e dello sperimentalismo quali Dirk Serries e Will Long aka Celer. La storia di questo progetto collaborativo confluito poi in “Background Courtain” comincia nel 2012, quando, dopo alcuni scambi di LP tra i due, Long invia una lunga traccia che riuniva dei pezzi sonori da lui prodotti a Serries, trovandoli inutilizzabili e sperando che l’artista belga riuscisse a ricavarne qualcosa. Tempo dopo, Serries invia a Long una serie di tracce ispirate dall’ascolto di quel nastro, ed usando come base la traccia definita ostica ed inutilizzabile all’inizio, i pezzi di Serries vengono avviluppati ad essa creando appunto questo album formato da due lunghe suite ambient sospese ed impalpabili, soundscapes da altri mondi dalla presenza allungata e riverberata. Disponibile in edizione strettamente limitata a 300 esemplari in digipak a 3 pannelli, con artwork dall’effetto vintage – molto inerente al contenuto sonoro – creato da Rudger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) e basato su una foto dello stesso Will Long.” Darkroom – Italy

TOUCHING EXTREMES SPEAKS THE TRUTH

DIRK SERRIES – MICROPHONICS XXVI-XXX : RESOLUTION HEART (LP, Tonefloat 2016)

“This LP puts the end titles to an essential chapter in Dirk Serries’ aural movie by cross-pollinating, in a way, sonorities related to a pair of important phases of his career, namely Vidna Obmana and Fear Falls Burning. Serries has always been concerned with the gradual unfolding of sounds in a style that retains momentum while eschewing ostentation. Either via sheer pitch duration or through massive amounts of processors, most of the music engendered by the Belgian artist is capable of evoking breathtaking vistas, frequently allowing unspoken communication with the self. Lend your ears and spirit to “The Deprivation Of Heart”, the final piece of this set, to get the picture.

These four tracks convey the visual sense of an expert engineer who never relinquished the original nucleus of his conception, yet is willing to alter a bit of its outside qualities. The characteristic slowness of outspread resounding streams is blurred by a haze of slight distortion, similarly to watching a summer landscape from the top of a hill with the corneas damp from the sizzling hot. What’s truly noteworthy – indeed, a trait which separates Serries from wannabes, hasbeens and neverwases – is the ability of attributing a reminiscent sincerity to harmonic sequences usually not exceeding the limits of a two-chord straightforwardness. If the inexpert listener could be forgiven for relating this work to – just saying – Celer, certain names from the Hypnos catalogue and, why not, William Basinski, don’t you dare forgetting that the inaugural outing by Serries dates from 1985. In this house emulators are not acknowledged: here, we’re talking about a groundbreaker. Still going strong after thirty-plus years.” Touching Extremes – Italy

XXVI-XXX : RESOLUTION HEART

“Es ist dieses Cover, das einen abschreckt.
Ein zerfallener Häuserblock, von dem der Putz bröckelt.
Doch trotzdem erhebt er sich Richtung Himmel.
Das Schwarz-Weiß-Foto verstärkt diesen Eindruck noch.
Doch schaut man ganz genau hin, verbirgt sich hinter diesem Bild des Zerfalls, gerade des Motivs wegen, etwas Besonderes, gar Faszinierendes. Man kann nicht genau beschreiben, was es ist, aber man spürt, dass es da ist!
Ganz genauso verhält es sich mit der Musik auf „Microphonics XXVI-XXX Resolution Heart“ von DIRK SERRIES, der unter unserer Seite für sein skandinavisches Band-Projekt YODOK III bereits in den höchsten Tönen gelobt wurde. Besonders der „atmosphärisch und postrock-phänomenalen Klangwelten“ wegen, die er gemeinsam mit einem schwedischen und einem norwegischen Musiker schuf.
Aber auch solistisch versteht Serries zu überzeugen, der schon als Support von MONO live Beachtliches an seinem Instrument leistete.

Nun also sein nur als LP plus bzw. oder Download erhältliches Solo-Album „Microphonics XXVI-XXX Resolution Heart“…
„This is the end. Play louder.“
Beide Sätze kann man, recht versteckt und sehr klein, auf der Rückseite der LP lesen – und man sollte sich daran halten. Serries Instrumentals – eingespielt mit E-Gitarre, E-Violine, Fender Rhodes und analogen sowie digitalen Effekten – müssen laut gespielt werden, dann entfalten sie genau die Atmosphäre, die nötig ist, um sich in dem Klangkosmos des Belgiers fallen zu lassen, ohne dabei den Eindruck zu haben, es würde in den gut 40 Minuten Spielzeit der LP zu wenig passieren.

Dieses Album lebt zuerst von der Stille, dann von langsam schwebenden, sich immer mehr erhebenden Harmonien und jeder Menge Loops, die stark vermuten lassen, dass der belgische Gitarrist und Klangzauberer bei ROBERT FRIPP zur Schule gegangen sein muss, da er die Frippertronics wie aus dem FF beherrscht und ganz ähnliche Soundscapes wie der große Meister (mit und ohne BRIAN ENO) zaubert. Serries scheint für Belgien das zu sein, was GERD WEYHING für Deutschland ist – denn beide erschaffen mit ihrem Instrument und dem entsprechenden technischen Equipment „Ambient Progressive Soundscapes“, die wie aus einer anderen Welt klingen – oder eben genauso wie „Epiphany And Isolution“, womit Serries seine beeindruckende LP über die Schönheit langsamer, aber nicht langatmiger Musik eröffnet. Das knapp 15 Minuten lange „The Deprivation Of Heart“ schließt dann in ganz ähnlicher Form und Rhythmik mit dem längsten Instrumentalstück das Album ab.
Danach werden wir dann auch den abschließenden kryptischen Satz – ein Zitat von LAO-TZU (chinesischer Philosoph aus dem 6. Jahrhundert vor Christi) – auf der LP-Rückseite noch etwas besser verstehen: „Sie bewegen sich in völliger Leere und lassen nur den Geist schlängeln.“ Das klingt meditativ – und die Musik von DIRK SERRIES ist die ideale Untermalung dazu.

FAZIT: Wenn an einem „Thursday Afternoon“ BRIAN ENO auf die LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN von ROBERT FRIPP trifft, damit sie gemeinsam den „Evening Star“ aufgehen lassen, dann steigt er garantiert direkt über der hochinteressanten Bruchbude (des Covers) von „Microphonics XXVI-XXX Resolution Heart“ des Belgiers DIRK SERRIES auf.” Musikreviews.de – Germany

 

“8/10. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally reviewing what was essentially one of many releases from Belgian electronic/atmosphere artist, Dirk Serries. When this record released, around three or four others released with it and judging from the numbering here, this is part of a set. From a brief observation, this is the final piece in that set and I recommend checking out the others first, in order to get the full experience. I can’t comment on the other pieces as I don’t recall ever hearing them, but I can of course give an observation of this piece and why it is a must for fans of atmospheric and electronic music. While the four tracks here mostly seem to be a bit foreboding in title (I Communicate Silence, Deprivation Of Heart) the album as a whole is quite uplifting. It sounds like the sort of amorphous winds that one might expect from another dimension, possibly an astral world of sorts. The album cover itself is quite droll though, making one feel like they might be in for a desolate, urban experience with two sullen looking concrete structures and a pale sky just above them.

Even so, I’m certainly not getting anything harsh or negative within “I Communicate Silence.” It rather feels like meditation music, marking the record a great piece to play when you’re trying to wind down after a long day’s activities. Perhaps said material would work on a night time drive through the countryside, in which moving the steering wheel itself becomes an almost minimal action as you’re encapsulated by a blanket of stars and the subtle melodies by which such a travel almost feels non-mechanically aided. Resolution Heart is indeed the kind of music we play when we’re looking to put behind all of the political chaos of recent times and focus on the significance of life, while we still have it. It is an album that makes you thankful that you are among those in the world who can hear pleasant and calming sounds on a daily basis.

Though merely made up of a slew of synths, most people will not turn such an experience away due to it’s therapeutic nature. I most commonly review heavy metal albums, but if you do find this kind of record to be something to your taste and are a metal fan as well, then that to me is a plus. Some may not realize why I don’t just review one sort of music, and that is because I’m a fan of quite literally everything. The atmosphere here is rather subdued amidst it’s twinkles, but it feels like holding your head underneath a stream of clean, flowing water. If you enjoy this album, please check out the brother and sister albums that released alongside it. I’m sure that if you give it a chance, you’ll find something in it. ” The Grim Tower

XXVI-XXX reviewed

“Belgian-based artist Dirk Serries began his Microphonics series in 2008, a little after the release of his earliest work as vidbaObmana and before the world started noticing his presence, most of it because of his collaborations with A-list acts, such as Steven Wilson, Steve Von Till, Aidan Baker, Justin K. Broadrick, Cult Of Luna and Steve Roach, and also due to catching him on tour alongside Jesu, Mono, Low, My Bloody Valentine and Cult Of Luna.

Microphonics XXVI-XXX : Resolution Heart is the tenth and last installment in the series and from its somber cover art to its ambiguous monochromatic minimalism that sways the album in its entirety, the bleakness and despondency of its ambience make up a superb final chapter for the eight-year long series.

There are no distinctive shapes or patterns among the album’s four tracks and nothing about it is definite, yet Resolution Heart succeeds without trouble in absorbing you into its refined and elegant vagueness. The hazier it gets, the more powerful its subtle little sounds and shreds of melodies become and the more grand the closure of the series appears. Serries flirts and plays with silence and with it he designs his amorphous structures, in such way that this elegiac ending to Microphonics is nothing short of striking and awe-inspiring in its faultless lowliness. ” Destroy/Exist

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