Wed, Nov 21 2018
Interview with: DIRK SERRIES
Date: June 17 2009
A fascination for minimal, beautiful harmonic and ambient music: an interview with Dirk Serries
Dirk, quite some years ago your put an end to vidnaObmana. Did you have any particular reason(s) for that? Will this phoenix rise again?
It was a culmination of various factors but the main one was that the story was told. After I completed my three albums for Relapse Records ("Tremor", "Spore" and "Legacy"), I truly felt that everything was done, explored and released under the vidnaObmana moniker.
I always feel the urge to move on, explore different styles, work with other instruments and vidnaObmana was, due to its own personal oeuvre, limited to particular style exercises. I truly felt that I met my personal ultimatum with realizing the Dante trilogy, a set of three albums that tapped from all the various styles and genres I played with over the past 20 years.
I aimed and reached for the best possible balance and fusion in styles and the various phases when the third and last album "Legacy" was released.
I always had in mind to stop at a rewarding moment in time and for me this was truly the only way to go for the future. vidnaObmana has been a rewarding vehicle but every story has its end and the completion of those last three albums was for me the closure and the best ending to a highly productive and intriguing period over more than two decades.
Apart from the two forthcoming anthologies on vinyl for Vinyl On Demand and Tonefloat, there’re no plans whatsoever to re-activate vidnaObmana.
It’s all over now.
An Opera For Four Fusion Works
You made two limited edition albums under the name Continuum with
eclectic and multi-talented musician Steven Wilson. So what's the chemistry
between you two? Will there be more coming from you two?
Steven Wilson got to know my music through Relapse Records. The label was so kind enough to send him my Dante-trilogy and from there on the connection was made. We both share the passion for various styles from jazz to the heaviest noise music so that we decided to start this Continuum project under which we could work and experiment with the different genres we’re influenced by.
Continuum is a project that will continue to live between the cracks and daily activities of our major projects but we’re planning a third album next year, at least that’s the idea.
Steven is a nice guy and incredible interesting person to be around with, and while it might take us a bit longer to record "Continuum 3", meanwhile we continue to work together in the format of remixes and guest-appearances on each other’s albums and various projects.
So did I play on his latest solo album, did a Fear Falls Burning-remix for one of his songs, while Steven remixed 3 seconds of air for the forthcoming album. It’s an ongoing study and exchange.
It seems you "switched" to the Fear Falls Burning as your major solo musical outlet. What is the core of this project? What evolution can there be discerned since it existence, and how will it continue?
In 2005 I slowly started to shift gear and changed from vidnaObmana to Fear Falls Burning.
Fear Falls Burning had originally the intention to be a project that exclusively dealt with the electric guitar. It still does, but over the last couple of years and due to the increasing success and appreciation for the music, the music and its scope has expanded.
I still focus myself and personally onto the electric guitar, but I’ve been experimenting and collaborating with different artists, so that the musical pallet has grown enormously over the past years. I worked together with different drummers on the latest album "Frenzy of the Absolute", and I’ll continue to move into that direction for sure where the music becomes a more full and complex identity. I just love that interaction where your own vision gets expanded, thanks to the input of your collaborative partners. Also, the combination with the drums works very well and has proven to be a rewarding direction towards getting my music more appreciated and understood.
Frenzy of the Absolute
Of course, as some of the readers still remember my concert at E-Live in 2005, Fear Falls Burning will remain a project that deals with extremes, and it will continue to challenge the willingness of the audience and listener. It’s a project that currently gets wider appreciation and recognition in the more metal-orientated and heavy drone subculture.
Only recently, the debut-album "The Flight of Song" of 3 Seconds of Air was
released. What's this band all about, where does its music stand for?
Again, this refers back to my ongoing interest in working together and expanding my horizon as a musician. About 10 years ago, I became friends with Paul Van Den Berg, a highly talented blues guitarist from my hometown, who showed great interest in the music of vidnaObmana and Fear Falls Burning. I consider him an important person in my education as a guitarist.
Slowly he started to contribute some guitar to several of my projects now and then , the first one being on vidnaObmana’s "Legacy" album. But the transition from being a full-blooded blues musician to a guitarist who plays minimal and drone-orientated music wasn’t an easy one.
Luckily, we continued to try and play together, organizing several jams whether in my studio or at Paul’s garage, where we piled up the guitar amplifiers. It took almost 10 years before we even dared to actually record something seriously, but still it wasn’t magical until Martina joined us on electric bass. It was actually Paul’s idea to invite her, and somehow her minimal and most important direct intervention on bass made the music flow.
3 Seconds of Air
3 seconds of air is therefore a band project that only includes me as one of the three equal members. A project that is specifically designed for performances in exclusive places like chapels. In other words: where the venue/surrounding becomes the fourth member. Our first album "The Flight of Song" was therefore recorded live at this beautiful 17th century chapel nearby our hometown. It’s a chapel completely isolated from the centre of city, which transcends so much integrity and inspiration that it was a real experience to record there.
3 seconds of air has nothing to do with synthesized electronica. The music is performed on two electric guitars and one electric bass, and amplified through three vintage tube amplifiers. The album itself was recorded with using one stereo microphones directly onto Pro-Tools capturing the sound mixed with the chapel’s extraordinary acoustics.
Apart from a few directions like the tone settings, the key in which we will play and some time signatures everything is improvised. The album has just been released on Tonefloat as cd and lp. The lp features a remix by Steven Wilson’s Bass Communion.
You also seem to have another project in the works called Microphonics. What can you reveal about this and its musical approach?
Up till now, we spoke about how eager and motivated I am to expand my universe as a musician in the form of collaborations.
While Fear Falls Burning originally was a project that would only focus itself onto the realm of the electric guitar, it clearly has abandoned that concept due to the various collaborations and experiments.
But somehow I was neglecting my core and what continued to drive me from day one when I started with music. Namely the love for the minimal, beautiful harmonic and ambient. Between albums, I always returned to this and the passion for the intimate and delicate grew stronger with the day.
I realized that this only could exist under my real name and therefore I started my Microphonics series.
Microphonics (referring to the technical term of the resonances of a tube amplifier) is the most personal, minimal, straightforward beautiful and most harmonic music I’ve done. It does has a lot in common with what I did with vidnaObmana during my ambient period in the early nineties, but this time it’s just me on guitar, a few effects and a tube amplifier.
Up till now, Tonefloat released two vinyl albums while its first cd will be released early next year. Dirk Serries’ microphonics series will surely appeal to all ambient fans who know me from vidnaObmana, while it to my humble opinion, is much more pure and authentic than anything I did with vidnaObmana. It’s the core, the backbone and drive why I started out creating ambient music. It’s such a fun and rewarding project to do and play live. I’m thanking the Dutch label Tonefloat for supporting me with this series and making it a truly rewarding one.
Next year I’ll do an European tour and a couple of 2009 concerts can hopefully be announced soon.
Do you have any plans to collaborate with Steve Roach again sometime on a
studio album or on a live concert?
Well, I’m still in close contact with Steve and although we definitely departed in style and vision after a series of highly successful collaborations, there’s nothing that would say that a collaboration will never happen again.
Surely, it will not be a vidnaObmana/Steve Roach collaboration, but who knows what the future might bring us. I’m sure we could easily start working together tomorrow as if we recorded our last record yesterday.
What's your opinion about electronic music scene, the changes it has gone
through the last 10 years or so, and your own experiences in the world of
music in general?
I have to admit that since I recorded my Dante-trilogy for Relapse Records in 2000-2002 and stopped vidnaObmana in 2005, my connection with the electronic music scene has faded immensely, due to the fact I started to work with Fear Falls Burning in the metal scene.
And although the electronic music scene was never fully my most favorite scene, due to my love for experiment and the way how this was misunderstood, I still have fond memories of the genre and its movements.
It has been a love/hate relationship. I was frequently disappointed by the conservative character of the genre where styles were prohibited to grow and expand over the years.
A percentage of its listeners, press and practitioners were quite intolerant towards creativity that would push the sonic boundaries and play with more elements than just synthesizers.
But thanks to the persistence of some promoters like Chuck Van Zyl, Ron Boots, several radio shows and magazines like KLEM and Exposé, this got more accepted. Ambient music has always been a genre that fell in-between genres and was most of the time misunderstood by those not familiar with the electronic genre, categorizing it as New Age, and by those who were originating from the Berliner school of electronic scene.
I truly don’t know how the electronic music scene has evolved over these past five years, but I think that with every music genre the scene has its own ebb and flow. You win and loose listeners and supporters. The internet has changed things over the years, making many of the magazines and radio shows disappear, later seeing them pop up online next to others new ones arriving.
I can only hope that we all continue to support the scene with freshness, open ears and a high tolerance towards expansion, fusion and experiment.
The electronic music scene can only grow and benefit from such a point of view.
1987-2007 Chasing The Odysee
So what's up next from you?
Just released, is "Microphonics VI" on one-sided vinyl, which contains the registration of a live concert in Den Haag at an art exhibition. And there’s, as previously mentioned, the debut of 3 seconds of air on cd and lp. Both were released by the Dutch label Tonefloat.
The upcoming months I’ll spend my time recording the new Fear Falls Burning album and doing a tour in fall.
With Tonefloat, we’ll hopefully finalize the epic 8-lp vinyl anthology "1987-2007 Chasing The Odysee" of vidnaObmana, while the German label Vinyl On Demand will release another vinyl retrospective of the early 1984-1986 vidnaObmana period called "1984-1986 Testament Of Tape".
Meanwhile, I’ll attend to my Microphonics series, as well with a few more concerts of this project and the release of the first cd in early 2010, followed by a tour throughout Europe.
1984-1986 Testament Of Tape
© Bert Strolenberg
||Date of interview
June 17 2009
A fascination for minimal, beautiful harmonic and ambient music: an interview with Dirk Serries
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