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EPITAPH reviewed

“Known more recently as an improvisational jazz guitarist, Dirk Serries built an extensive catalogue of ambient recordings between 1984 and 2007. Recording under the name vidnaObmana (Serbian for optical illusion), Serries produced more than 50 releases. The list includes some two dozen solo efforts and collaborations with Klinik, PBK, Steve Roach and others.

The inexhaustible Belgian, who celebrates his 50thbirthday this year, has returned to his drone roots. Epitaph is a 91-minute colossus of a recording, featuring 10 improvised ambient pieces.

Epitaph is the swansong of music I like to name my vintage ambient,” writes Serries in the album’s notes. “For more than 30 years I’ve been trying to seek perfection, from synthesizers to electric guitars, a bumpy ride for sure with lots of doubts, frustrations, extreme self-criticism and a few highs and lows but the call kept on strong. This is what I breathe, this is the heart of who I am.”

The material is warm and comforting. This is not guitar ambient music in the traditional sense. Serries pulls extraordinary sounds out of his instrument, with the help of only a few effects.

This is better understood as a drone recording, delivered by a major talent capable of transporting his listeners with pieces like “spectral gray walls,” “shining form constellation” and “formations of grace.”

“[This is] my finest collection of ambient pieces to date. One, as all were, quite personal and attached as they are performed in solitude with only the imaginative mirror to hold in front of me. Melancholic impressions improvised on the spot,” he writes.

Serries is in the prime of a wide-ranging career, one that independent artists can look to for inspiration. Since he was a teenager, the man has produced music he loves in a variety of genres. Besides his work as vidnaObmana, he’s performed with My Bloody Valentine and Low. He’s worked with Cult of Luna and Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick. And he continues to run a respected label called A New Wave of Jazz.

Epitaph may be prematurely titled. Just the same though, it is a handsome reminder of Serries’ success in the ambient genre.” Baddpress – Canada

“Dirk Serries! Epitaph … for sustained pieces? Never forget!

Spectral grey walls … Pogodny, choć niezwykle zimny, stonowany, jakby lekko podrasowany klimat starego 4AD, sprzed ponad 30 lat. Płynący nieprzerwanie od początku świata, aż do jego końca, błyskotliwy i nierozerwalny konglomerat dronów. Up & down, z prawej na lewą, z lewej na prawą. Nie sposób precyzyjnie rozpoznać komponenty dźwiękowe tej chmury transcendentalnej fonii, choć domyślamy się, iż tworzy je stado wypłoszonych pasaży gitarowych, przefiltrowanych przez niemniej liczną watahę przetworników i amplifikatorów. Całość wulgarnie wpada w czeluść komputerowej meta rzeczywistości i zostaje śmiertelnie zdekonstruowana. A odbiorcy pozostaje już tylko tryskać potokami endorfin. Narracja jest stosunkowo jednorodna, dalece repetytywna i długotrwała (sustained!). Atrybuty jej urody trudne są do zwerbalizowania w jakimkolwiek języku świata. This is beauty that lasts! Moc gitarowych ekspozycji wspomaganych elektroniką, nieprzeładowaną bajtami. Hipnotyczna doskonałość, przytłaczająca doniosłość chwili, która zdaje się nie mieć końca. Pod koniec pierwszego fragmentu, w kleszczach wyższych dronów, pojawia się ten jeden ważny i dotkliwy – basowy. Nowy płomień w kompulsywnej strukturze.

Shining form constellation… Ambient nie jedno ma imię. Dron zdaje się tu być podobny do poprzedniego, ale jakby bardziej zadumany, jeszcze głębiej zanurzony w elektronice. Rivers falls, river flows. Ciemna, odrobinę groźna refleksja muzyczna.

Alternation and return… Faktura kolejnej ekspozycji wydaje się być gęstsza, bardziej siarczysta. Ma delikatny posmak industrialny, taki na pół milimetra. Muzyka jest dzięki temu wnikliwie niepokojąca, jakby zwiastowała wyłącznie złe wieści. Intensywność przekazu przybiera na sile, wręcz skwierczy. Wszystko ma molową barwę i nabrzmiewa. Choć sam flow narracji ciągle nie nadaje się do straszenia dzieci na wioskach, tych daleko oddalonych od cywilizacji. To specyficzny chill out – dla uszu zmaltretowanych nocą ekstremalnych koncertów black metal.  Z ciszy do ciszy, jak każda historia tego wyjątkowego Epitafium.

Eaves in dusk…Ciągle słyszymy jakby tę samą pieśń, ale też nieustannie rozpoznajemy nowe obszary jej histerycznej splendid isolation. Ta czwarta ma nieco prostszą fakturę. Płynie i narasta, płynie i opada. Jakby elektronika zawłaszczyła trochę więcej gitarowej przestrzeni niż poprzednio.

The profusion of daze… Jeszcze spokojniejsza opowieść. Upalone rusałki skaczą po półboskim nieboskłonie. Przypalają dobre jointy i mają wyłącznie dobre intencje. Slow motion, but clearly beautiful. Gitara zawieszona w przestrzeni, elektronika ustala reguły gry.

Torrential aether shadows… Z każdą minutą nagrania, coraz bardziej zanurzamy się w meta otchłań syntetycznych dźwięków. Muzyczne perpetum mobile. Elektronika zdaje się wyciągać więcej, niż gitara dostarcza na wejściu. Płaskie, stosunkowo czyste drony, silnie rozwarstwione, płyną do nas pasmem najszerszym z możliwych. Wyższy dron smakuje gitarą, ten najniższy ogniem piekielnym. Wielkie suwnice mocy dostarczają nam coraz więcej nieczystych dźwięków, czyli tych najpiękniejszych. Wielosekundowe wybrzmiewanie.

Formations of grace… Krok w dół. Wynurzamy się z ciemnego oceanu, ciągle jednak poszukujemy niskich częstotliwości. Szorstkie, dotkliwe fonicznie drony, o niezwykle intensywnej fakturze, grubej teksturze, śliskiej skórze. Przestrzeń wokół nas zdaje się rosnąć. Sporo groźnych, choć dość odległych pasm, siejących niepokój. Zaczynaliśmy ten spektakl od skojarzeń z 4AD, teraz jednak jesteśmy już na przedmieściach Twin Peaks. Więcej niż 12 minut.

The nebulous chords… Słychać meta echo gitary, rodzaj filharmonicznej niemal … harmonii. Dźwięki gitary rozmywają się szkliście, tworząc kołujące stado dronów, poruszające się w całkowitej swobodzie twórczej. Niskie pasma na chwilę nas zostawiły, zdecydowanie płyniemy nad powierzchnią wody, zachwycając cię blaskiem umierającego słońca.

Brittle air elegy… Dron kontynuujący stosunkowo niedrapieżną ekspozycję. Choć po chwili pojawia się drobna horda niższych częstotliwości. Spokojny marsz epitafijny. Koniec, który niczego nie kończy. The end is the begining! Beauty as….

And all the murmur fell… Strumień narracji trzyma się swego relaksacyjnego charakteru, choć nie stroni od zaczepiania o niskie, głodne komponenty. Oczyszczająca łaźnia muzycznego wniebowstąpienia. Definitly, it’s a time for new Epitaph, Mr.Serries!

Dirk Serries Epitaph (2CD, 2LP, Consouling Sounds, 2018). 10 utworów, około 90 minut muzyki. Nagrania dokonane w domowym studio muzyka, w trakcie roku 2017.” Spontaneous Music Tribune – Poland

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EPITAPH pre-order & reviews

Dirk Serries’ ambient swansong, EPITAPH, is now available as a pre-order in a regular edition (2xCD or 2xLP) or a special limited edition (100 copies).  Visit the Consouling Sounds site for how to pre-order this essential release.  Mark also your agenda for the release event which features performances by Stratosphere, Scatterwound, a rare Fear Falls Burning performance and to top it all of with a YODOK III ritual, tickets here.

epitaph

Meanwhile here’s the first reviews :

“Meandering through & dissecting this astonishing & breathtaking retrospective of one of the true ambient masters of our time: vidnaObmana, a.k.a. Dirk Serries.
Dirk explores sound, spacing & the distance between darkness, light & the inevitable gray areas uncovered by those polar opposite & opposing forces.

Sonic waves ebb, flow & wash over the listener as they’re immersed in the beautiful, introspective sonance delivered up via Serries’ guitar-crafted ambient sound-work.” Ambient Landscape – USA

“Er zijn weinig artiesten die erin slagen verstilde tot intieme atmosferen zodanig intens te doen klinken, dat geluidsmuren afbrokkelen. Harten worden verscheurd, en zielen verpulverd. Zonder geluidsnormen te overschrijven. Maar net door het brengen van zodanig hypnotiserende soundscapes, dat je als aanhoorder in een meer dan diepe trance terecht komt. Zo een muzikant en tovenaar die met brio in deze opzet slaagt dat is Dirk Serries in elk geval.  Dirk Serries wist ons in het verleden inderdaad, zowel op plaat als live, meerdere keren met verstomming te slaan. Via Consouling Sounds brengt Dirk Serries op 8 april een gloednieuw meesterwerk op de markt. Epitaph wordt live voorgesteld in Ancienne Belgique op die zondag. Ter gelegenheid van het festival BRDCST. De unieke gelegenheid om deze meester in intensiviteit in zijn volle glorie aan het werk te zien. Samen met enkele al even begenadigde artiesten binnen Elektronische muziek, in de brede zin van dat woord. Zoals daar zijn: Fear Falls Burning, SCATTERWOUND , YODOK III , STRATOSPHERE w/ DIRK SERRIES.


Dirk zegt zelf over dit album, we citeren:

“EPITAPH is the swansong of music I like to name my vintage ambient. For more than 30 years I’ve been trying to seek perfection, from synthesizers to electric guitars, a bumpy ride for sure with lots of doubts, frustrations, extreme self-criticism and a few highs and lows but the call kept on strong. This is what I breathe, this is the heart of who I am. But that momentum has arrived to depart from this, not that I’ll abandon my ambient music completely and forever. I do see this expanding as an occasional live entity but in the studio setting I’m looking forward to discover other terrain. EPITAPH is therefore my finest collection of ambient pieces to date. One, as all were, quite personal and attached as they are performed in solitude with only the imaginative mirror to hold in front of me. Melancholic impressions improvised on the spot with just a guitar and a handful effects recorded directly onto computer. Will for sure continue to emphasize with ambient music but my frame of mind is currently focused on moving forward and applying my techniques and inspiration towards new sonic alliances. For now I do hope you’ll join me on this closing chapter and embrace this space.”

Dirk Serries October 2017.

Die perfectie waarvan sprake, wordt al vanaf de eerste song Spectral Grey Walls gewoon overschreden. Dertig jaar ervaring heeft er gelukkig niet voor gezorgde dat Dirk Serries zijn inspiratie is opgedroogd. Bij vorige schijven dachten we dat de man zijn grens had bereikt  wat betreft het aanbieden van emotionele paden. Epitaph gaat op dezelfde intense elan door. Hoewel hij met deze schijf dus eigenlijk een hoofdstuk afsluit, zo blijkt uit bovenstaande inleiding. Hij doet dit duidelijk met een knaller van formaat. Dirk Serries tast nog maar eens zijn grenzen af, en geeft aan dat het eindpunt eigenlijk nog niet is bereikt.

Tijdens pakkende instrumentale huzarenstukken als Shining form constellation, Alternation and Return, Eaves in Dusk, Kun je telkens een speld horen vallen in de zaal. Maar, wonder bij wonder, wordt je daardoor niet in slaap gewiegd. Eerder tovert Dirk, als een ware magiër , klanken uit zijn instrumenten, die je in diepe vervoering brengen. Je hoort uiteindelijk enkel en alleen nog zijn muziek, en voelt je wegdrijven naar heel verre oorden. Ver verwijderd van de harde realiteit. Bij voorkeur sluit je daarbij best alle deuren om je heen, de ogen bij voorkeur eveneens. En de versterker op tien. Om je de intensiviteit die doorheen je ziel boord dan pas echt te voelen.

We kunnen dan ook besluiten:

Epitah  is een gevoelsplaat geworden, die je enerzijds verdooft en anderzijds murw slaat op een tedere tot magische mooie wijze. Zoals alleen een artiest als Dirk Serries dat kan. Ik ken weinig artiesten die zoveel grenzen heeft verlegd binnen het Ambient en aanverwante gebeuren zoals Dirk, geeft ik ruiterlijk toe. Ambient is sowieso een muziekstijl die je niet moet beluisteren, maar ondergaan. Dat heeft Dirk altijd goed begrepen. Ook dat komt op Epitaph voortdurend aan bod. Eén van mijn grote idolen Brian Eno drukte erop dat Ambient een helende invloed kan hebben op hart, ziel en zelfs de hersens. Het is dit soort Ambient waarnaar ik sinds ik ooit Brian Eno heb leren kennen, bewust op zoek ben. Dirk Serries is één van de weinige artiesten die dit niveau evenaart, niet enkel in het verleden. Ook deze zwanenzang, zoals hij het zelf noemt, van zijn Ambient carrière. Is een grensverleggend Ambient album geworden, dat aan alle hoge eisen voldoet.” Snoozecontrol – Belgium

Epitaph celebrates three decades of work by Dirk Serries, the man behind vidnaObmana, Fear Falls Burning, Yodok III and other eloquent collaborations along the way. Released on April 8th via Gent’s Consouling Sounds in double vinyl (a special edition of 100 as well) and CD formats I’m fully engaged from the top. With the aptly titled Spectral Grey Walls, an oddly soothing barrage of guitar and electronic drone, you are treated to a sweet frosty sensibility that is genuinely hypnotic. To honor this records’ release Serries will headline BRDCST, a massive evening of varied sound projects with special guests to catalogue his history all presented in his home country, Belgium. On track four, Eaves of Dust, he opens with a super-restrained quietude slowly weaving a crystalline harmony that even at nearly seven minutes is far to short, leaving you wanting more of the same to lose yourself in.
The whole recording, from end to end, is a bit breathtaking in its quest for light and dark, finding a happy balance in its austere sound-shaping ease. The pace is nearly slo-mo on the awkwardly titled The Profusion of Daze, but nothing is off-center as the deeper bass tones flare over the elegant opal drone with a shadowy pride. Things take a darker turn on tracks like Formations of Grace, the longest piece included here, though it sets up a bit of a quiet storm for the incredible The Nebulous Clouds. Here we have a breathing, pulsating sound that comes together in what seem to be endless layers of weary guitars, stretched thinly, semiopaque. Not too unlike the spiny pod-like undulation of the cover art (above) by the incredible Martina Verhoeven. In the final classic ambient anthem of sorts, And All The Murmur Fell, the moodiness inhabits in a moment of light drifting by. Pure solitude. And like some of the best contemporary science fiction soundtracks of late, dips its big toe into the fast-forward future. With its cyclical, contorting sound wall, the track leaves us in peace.” Tone Shift – USA

“I wasn’t going to write another review today. I had just decided to get dressed, get my sunglasses and go outside to photograph the early beginnings of spring. However, then this album suddenly came in. I wasn’t expecting it. I knew that there was a Dirk Serries’ ‘Epitaph’ event coming up but I had no idea that it was also going to be a 2LP/2CD release. I immediately downloaded the album while heating up another pancake. Then I knew, there was no way that I was going outside today. Today is Dirk Serries day, only occasionally interrupted by a quick smoke on my balcony and perhaps a few more of my delicious pancakes.

I think it was 1997 when I first discovered Dirk’s music. A friend of mine had compiled a cassette for me, one with his favorite “calm” music. Back then, I didn’t know that there was such a thing as ambient music. I was a metalhead and to me the genre we now know as ambient were merely album intros. I had one of those cassettes too, with intros and ambient passages from bands like Amorphis and My Dying Bride. However, the tape my friend gave me opened a whole new world. Dirk unknowingly opened that compilation with a Vidna Obmana track. He was followed by one from Brian Eno. I have been an ambient fan ever since.

Years passed and some Vidna Obmana albums became constants. I was a confused adolescent, not knowing which direction my life was heading into, but Vidna Obmana always managed to calm my nerves and ease my pain. I spend whole evenings listening to ‘Tremor’ or ‘Memories Compiled’. I was devastated when I lost disc one of the latter. In fact, ever since the day I lost that disc, I have been taking exceptionally good care of my physical music collection. No more discs laying around, no more broken jewel cases, no more scratches, all thanks to Dirk Serries and his mesmerizing music.

Still fully moving in the world of metal and everything gothic-related, I moved to Antwerp in the first decade of this century. There, I discovered something new, live looping. It was a festival in the Arenberg theatre with acts like Premonition Factory, Darkroom, Aidan Baker and… Dirk Serries’ Microphonics. Again, I had no idea, none whatsoever, that this was the same man that got me through emotional rough times several years before. I was enjoying his guitar drones in that small theatre in the back of the venue, and quite some times after too, since I immediately bought the album.

That was also the first time I met Dirk in person. I told him that I liked the music and I bought the album, something I probably do too much. The second time I met Dirk was at Incubate when I asked him if he knew where Sjaak (Premonition Factory) was. Sjaak was about to drive us home, which is why I was looking for him. The third time was at Dunk! festival. I was talking to Erik from Snoozecontrol. He introduced me to Dirk and to Ronald (Stratosphere). Dirk said: “oh, are you that guy from Merchants Of Air?” After my affirmative answer, he and Ronald quickly rushed off to get me an album to review.

In the years between, I often saw Dirk perform live. Mostly solo, but also with Fear Falls Burning, which is to this day one of the most impressive live performances I have ever seen. I have seen thousands of live performances but this was something I will never ever forget. That power, that atmosphere, unrivaled. At a more recent edition of Dunk! festival Dirk turned me into a jazz fan with another brilliant performance, this time with The Void Of Expansion. Soon after, he impressed me again, during a Yodok III gig at Trix. That gig pretty much kickstarted my book ‘Cecilia’s World’, especially her adventures in the worlds of drone, ambient and jazz.

By now, I’m starting to realize that this article is a bit different from my usual reviews. I’m just doing what I always do, listen to an album and let the words write down themselves. That is how I work. That is how I write my books, my columns, even my old love letters have been written that way. I don’t know if Dirk, or any musician for that matter, realized what an impact his work can have on a person. I guess that is the power of music. I guess that’s what happens when you’re continuously recording and releasing work for thirty years. You reach people, you touch people, you change people.

For me ‘Epitaph’ is a look back at those years as an adolescent trying to find his own identity and maybe for Dirk this album is something similar. He has been evolving from an ambient amateur to one of the most influential people in the entire genre and far beyond. ‘Epitaph’ sounds like the end but it also feels like a new beginning. Gates close and gates open. Today, we see Dirk hanging around with jazz musicians, pushing even that age old genre into new directions. That resulted in several ‘New WAve Of Jazz’ releases on Tonefloat. He might be the third most important Belgian in that scene, after Alphonse Sax and Toots Thielemans.

‘Epitaph’ is also a breathtaking ambient album, featuring ten enigmatic tracks. I can hear those thirty years in pretty much all of these tunes. I can see my young self dreaming about the future in ‘Brittle Air Elegy’. I can feel the harshness of life in ‘Alternation and Return’. I can sense the depressive end of those childhood dreams in ‘And All The Murmur Fell’. I will definitely cherish this album. It is a perfect overview of what Dirk has been standing for all these years. At least, it represents his solo work, his minimal but immersive approach to soundscapes, drones and ambient.

What the future holds in store for Dirk Serries? I have absolutely no idea but I’m damn sure it will be interesting. First off, there will be this ‘Epitaph’ event, organized by Consouling Sounds, who will celebrate their tenth birthday already. On that event, Dirk will be performing with Yodok III, Fear Falls Burning, Scatterwound and Stratosphere. After that, Dirk will undoubtedly continue to push his mark on any musical direction he desires. In the meantime, I will make ‘Epitaph’ another constant in my day-to-day playlist and I suggest you do the same. This is a remarkable album from a massively talented artist.” Merchants Of Air – Belgium.

“Dirk Serries goes for the angelic with the lovely long-form ambient symphonies of “Epitaph”. Possessing an uncanny state of grace, these songs exist as if in a glorious dream. Everything about the album points to a great journey, for Dirk Serries allows these sounds to evolve organically. Hard to precisely pin down, Dirk Serries brings together drone, classical, and ambient into a fully realized whole. The elongated suites represent miniature worlds at times for the way every element of the sound interacts working in unison feels majestic. Songs build off each other resulting in something that feels so vibrant and real.

Things begin in earnest with the colossal scope of “spectral gray walls”. Ebbing and flowing akin to a force of nature, the piece feels outright meditative. A sense of yearning permeates the shimmering “shining form constellation”. Ever larger the powerful wash of “alternation and return” goes for a gauzy sound. Stripping the piece down to the essentials “the profusion of daze” opts for an intimacy, as the piece feels so warm and comforting. Subtle shifts come into the fray on the serene “formations of grace” where patience truly becomes a virtue, as Dirk Serries lets the track grow and change form. Great cavernous echoes reign supreme on “the nebulous chords”. Concluding the album on a reflective note the near silence of “and all the murmur fell” feels just right.

With “Epitaph” Dirk Serries creates a dazzling display of color, one which feels fully immersive.” Beach Sloth

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

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

1 front cover

“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

celer-and-dirk-serries

“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

celer-and-dirk-serries

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