INTERMEDIATE OBSCURITIES I​+​IV

by TONUS

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1.
57:59
2.
45:20

about

TONUS.
Intermediate Obscurities I + IV

I
Jan Daelman : flute
George Hadow : drums
Dirk Serries : acoustic guitar
Martina Verhoeven : piano
Nils Vermeulen : double bass
Colin Webster : alto saxophone

Constructed during the Jazzcase residency between November 13th and 16th 2017, based upon a piano leitmotif by Martina Verhoeven. Performed live at Dommelhof, Neerpelt (Belgium) on November 16th, 2017. Recorded by Piet Vermonden. Mixed by Dirk Serries. Mastered at the Sunny Side Inc. Studio.

Thank you : Cees Van De Ven.

IV

Cath Roberts : baritone sax
Dirk Serries : acoustic guitar
Benedict Taylor : viola
Tom Ward : bass clarinet
Colin Webster : alto saxophone
Otto Willberg : double bass

Performed live at Hundred Years Gallery, London (UK) on January 14th 2018. Graphic score by Dirk Serries. Recorded and mixed by Dirk Serries. Mastered at the Sunny Side Inc. Studio.

Thank you : Hundred Years Gallery.

Sleeve notes : Guy Peters.
Layout : Rutger Zuydervelt
Executive label director : Dirk Serries.

credits

released October 13, 2018

What self-taught musicians lack in education and (sometimes) technical prowess, many make up for with the need to carve out a space for themselves. Their trajectory is often like a perpetual motion of restless movements. Even among those musicians, Dirk Serries is a special case. Loyal to whoever he comes across, but a solitary seeker at the same time. An eternal outcast whose discography expands at a swift and steady pace, building an island entirely of his own, despite its ties to others.

Tonus, the next chapter in his ongoing investigation into the relation between sound and time, might be one of his most remarkable feats yet. He strays closer than ever to the world of modern avant-garde music, yet remains rooted in the minimalist creed that has been a constant for more than three decades. Based on a motif by Martina Verhoeven, Tonus functions as an impetus for exploration. That Serries plays an acoustic guitar is in itself perhaps not so unusual, but if you take his background into account, it is a remarkable turn.

This release combines two concerts, roughly two months apart and performed by different sextets. Despite their similar core, the results are strikingly different. The first performance at Jazzcase was the finale of a residency and has to be among the most radical pieces Serries ever committed to tape. Its demanding nature is not so much the result of volume, density or complexity, but the opposite. The continuity of sound, a constant in his huge discography, is replaced by a horizontal series of interactions that shift the search for space in sound, to that for space between sounds.

The Belgian-British ensemble consists besides Serries and Verhoeven (piano) of Colin Webster (alto saxophone), Jan Daelman (flute), Nils Vermeulen (bass) and George Hadow (drums), and together they follow a disciplined course with a stately continuity and an almost pointillistic technique. Sounds do merge, but only briefly, as the underlying motif secures the steady production of brief interventions and the importance of space. It is open and constructed at the same time, performed with the discipline of a chamber ensemble specialized in the works of, say, Morton Feldman, or the free spirit of the graphic score-based experiments of Cornelius Cardew.

Tonus allows for multiple interpretations and line-ups, and by consequence, the London recording offers something different. The chamber music constellation is replaced by a sextet consisting of two trios: the reeds of Colin Webster (alto saxophone), Cath Roberts (baritone saxophone) and Tom Ward (bass clarinet) versus the strings of Otto Willberg (bass), Benedict Taylor (viola) and Dirk Series (acoustic guitar). Whereas the Belgian recording felt like a pristine and measured performance with a steady temperament, this second one is something else.

It is rougher around the edges, with a more robust sound that picks up in dense waves, at times almost feeling like a heavy, industrial mass of sound. It has its moments of near- silence, but alternates with thick juxtapositions, almost drones, that are pretty much in your face. Which one you prefer will depend on personal preferences, but you might get a kick out of the fact that both sprung from the same source. That is exactly why this is a promising new chapter in Serries’ catalog. The tension between compositional ideas and improvisational skills is one that allows for endless variations, and it seems that Serries has found the right people to search, find and execute them with.

Guy Peters - 2018

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a new wave of jazz

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance”

a haven for the free and wilful. featuring music that originates from a fascination for free improvisation and modern minimal music.
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