Tonefloat: Ikon: Streams of Consciousness I / II / III
Tonefloat: Ikon

It's not uncommon for an artist to retire a particular project when its purpose seems fulfilled; it's also not uncommon for said artist to resurrect the project years later when it feels as if more might be said about it. A case in point is Belgian composer Dirk Serries who a number of years ago retired his vidnaObmana persona (the project's initial termination date was May 2009) but is now exhuming its spirit in a three-volume series of long-form, guitar-generated settings issued on the also-resurrected Tonefloat: Ikon imprint (each volume available as a download or in a vinyl run of ninety-nine numbered copies).

As a whole, the six pieces weigh in at slightly more than 130 minutes of music, with each piece about twenty-one in length on average. They're not radically dissimilar; if anything, one could easily hear them as six consecutive passes, with each emerging out of silence, resounding for twenty minutes, and then receding into silence once more. Generated by Serries in real time using only electric guitars and effects (looping foremost among them), each ghostly setting (one even titled “A Ghostly Apparition”) steadily swells until it becomes a drifting, multi-layered haze of crystalline tones and shimmering washes, the music peaceful and harmonious and the effect soothing. Even though (consistent with the ambient tradition) one is instructed to play the material at low volume, it's best heard loud, as filling the room with the music allows one to be engulfed by it rather than for it to be experienced at a remove. More importantly, the louder volume brings forth the melancholic beauty and elegance of the cloud-like masses Serries coaxes from his gear.

This isn't the first time a project such as this one has been created: an obvious analogical example is the series of solo soundscaping recordings Robert Fripp issued during the 1990s and 2000s, including A Blessing of Tears, The Gates of Paradise, and At the End of Time: Churchscapes, Live in England & Estonia, 2006. It goes without saying that any admirer of those recordings will likely feel much the same way about this Serries set, especially when the contemplative material exudes a hymnal and reverential tone (explicitly referenced in the title of the sixth setting “Faith and Reverence”) much like the Fripp recordings.

August-September 2013