Dirk Serries - Microphonics XXI-XXV
Having wrapped up his other solo projects, Belgium's premier exponent of the drone Dirk Serries is focusing his efforts on the superlative Microphonics series. Microphonics XXI-XXV is only the second full studio album; nonetheless we are treated to four stunning tracks and a fresh cycle to herald the beginning of a new era in this man's illustrious career. The numbering might not make too much sense (XXI is missing here for example), but the music most certainly does.
Built upon the simple premise of one guitar and a looping pedal, the vast soundscapes sound so monumentally huge yet are carved from so little as to be simply breath-taking. Akin to a dream-like walk through the beautifully broken, wistfully floating amongst the clouds before coming down to explore deserted and decaying streets, Microphonics XXI-XXV is a heady mix of the blissful and the dark, the uplifting and the nefarious.
'XXII: Mounting Among The Waves' opens proceedings with a simple distorted riff, a creepy rumbling noise with a hint of melodiousness to ease the listener into this strange world. Swelling to disturbing heights before crashing back down again, this is an emotional rollercoaster far beyond what you would expect from such minimalism. It is all about the control and release of tension, and this whole record is a masterful display of just how to do that.
As menacing as this introduction is, it is 'XXIV: The Burden Of Hope' that proves to be the pinnacle of the album with its much more soothing brushstrokes and hopeful touch. Meditative and hypnotic, the gentle looping guitar builds to such a euphoric yet gentle climax. With a subtlety so rarely found in the quick fix music of this generation, it is a deft piece of work that proves that minimalism need be neither boring nor universally bleak.
Microphonics XXI-XXV is a sumptuous exhibit of thoughtful and emotive music, a turbulent and exhausting yet highly rewarding journey for those with an open mind and a little patience. Dirk Serries is not trying to be too clever here, neither too weird nor too revolutionary. Instead, this is simply a beautifully carved piece of art.