Microphonics XXVI-XX: Resolution Heart by Dirk Serries

Release date: December 1, 2016
Label: Tonefloat Records

I received a review copy of this record, Dirk Serries’ final Microphonics release in the post- an actual copy of the record to review, which seems so unusual as to be worth remarking on, despite probably not being especially relevant to anyone reading. Anyway, it arrived on a rainy December afternoon, and the black vinyl and grey cover images certainly seemed to fit well with the grey clouds turning to black night.

At first it most reminds me of Gorecki’s slow unfoldings and painstaking cello sweeps: austere and patient waves of sound in charcoal monochrome, under which minimal fragments of melodies lift their faces, somehow restrained and lavish at once. It strikes the same tone as compatriot Syndrome, but with simpler and subtler tools. The album art, a grey photograph of apartment buildings that’s the same on front and back, at first made me think of a more realistic, bleaker version of the Physical Graffiti sleeve, while fitting in with the black and white architecture imagery on the other covers in the Microphonics series.

That series comprises at least seven or eight previous instalments (the roman numerals mark the tracks), and the approach here is similar to what I’ve heard of them; solo pieces carefully put together with gently undistorted drone guitar, slow washes and precisely controlled dynamics, making much of a narrow set of musical tools. The tracks have elegantly long tail-outs and fade-ins, and the subtitle, resolution heart, is a nice phrase for the effect of such contemplative drones. Experimental in the best way, they’re curious, patient and sensitive explorations of minimal themes which reward attentive listening in the right late-night or otherworldly mindframe.

Music that’s probably not to be called upon greatly often, but sometimes is just right: expansive, balanced between soft sumptuous expansiveness and sombre brooding. So perhaps it does make particular sense that they sent me a copy on record, in that it created its own occasion for listening, removing it from background drones and settling into itself as accompaniment to rainswept evening window-gazing.

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