Dirk Serries: Microphonics XIV

Fear Falls Burning: Dead of Night
Dot Dot Dot

Recorded live at the Kinky Star Club in Ghent, Belgium on July 4, 2010, Microphonics XIV captures Dirk Serries operating at an intensely immersive level and allowing his guitar-generated material to unfold on its own slow and patient terms. Split across two twelve-inch vinyl sides (the release available in 100 copies each in gold, white, and silver pressings), the forty-eight-minute recording instantiates a technique Serries refers to as “crawling through the eye of the needle,” a phrase that deftly captures the music's character. From minimal figures and fragments, larger cells develop until they accumulate into multiple overlapping layers, with Serries responding intuitively to the gradually swelling mass around him. During the first side, plaintive pealing figures, accompanied by slow strums, resound against a shimmering, ghostly backdrop. A change in tone occurs at the start of side two when Serries fashions a becalmed organ-like drone that's rendered even lovelier when it's joined by a two-note theme of starlit design. If anything, the second half proves to be even more entrancing than the first, as Serries acts as a midwife for music of deeply affecting and introspective character to be externalized. The peaceful drift of the second half provides an intimate and open-hearted presentation of Serries' music-making that's truly lovely. What one hears is an artist setting ego aside and letting his innermost voice speak through his instrument, something the appreciative club audience appears to recognize, judging by the sprinkles of applause that appear at disc's end.

He speaks through his instrument in a rather different manner on the much shorter seven-inch single Dead of Night, which finds Serries operating in Fear Falls Burning mode, armed with Les Paul guitars and outfitted with pedal effects. In this case, the music birthed is a primeval, volcanic beast that sputters and convulses determinedly. Like a meth addict obsessively picking at scabs, the smeary mass morphs into a rippling ball of grimey agitation, its cloudbursts anchored by the humanizing presence of Martina Verhoeven's fretless bass figures. The static-filled noise cluster Serries crafts on the second side benefits even more from the stablizing groan of her bass lines. The coloured vinyl disc, presented in a trippy colour design and limited to 300 copies, offers a capsule portrait of the Fear Falls Burning project.

January 2011