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CD Feature/ Continuum: "Continuum II"

img  Tobias

With some bands or projects, finding a set of influences is easy. With Continuum, it is a veritable paper chase. Dirk Serries of Vidna Obmana/Fear Falls Burning has had his fingers in Ambient, Industrial, Noise Art, electronic Opera and Drones, while Steve Wilson has been associated with Pink Floyd, progressive metal, experimental textures and the Beatles. Is the name of their collaborative moniker “Continuum” a reference to the Ligeti-piece, the song by Jaco Pastorius or the English instrumental band by the same name, which enjoyed a short span of fame in the early 70s? It remains a guess.

On the other hand: Who really cares? What distinguishes the musical handshake between Serries and Wilson from others is the complete openness of its stylistic borders to the point where terminologies do not matter anymore. The duo has taken great care of not simply mashing together all of their different influences in a delusional cross-over arbitrariness, but of creating something conclusive from many individual, sometimes quite antipodal jigsaw pieces.

Each party is allowed freedom in bringing in its personality without restraints, because the other can rely on a sense of mutual respect and a willingness to listen actively, whether a note, a noise or a shift in nuance will add or rather take something away from the overall picture.

Consequently, “Continuum II” has turned out a minimal work in terms of its source material. It is a measured effort, in which every single detail has its distinct place and all sounds are carefully coordinated. As a listener, this offers the welcome chance of paying close attention even to the tiniest of semblances, to minute modulations and subtle shifts. It also places the emphasis of the album distinctly on the mood factor.

In combination with the artwork, which forms a true symbiosis with the music, the record evokes unreal landscapes, spheres of not quite permeable density, the sensation of choking and of someone whispering something unintelligible and decidedly frightening within direct proximity of your ears.

“Construct v” is the most obvious example in this regard. Based on a ghoulish spoken word contribution, it builds a terrorsphere of feedback drones, piercing analogue tones, glassy pads and continuous compression. But even in the more concrete pieces, the feeling of standing outside of your body is firmly intact.

And yet, the journey does not deprive its travellers of a resolution. While the opening “construct iv” leans towards the Metal side, with a single Doom riff surfacing from a subaquatic pulse and being repeated ad infinitum as the surrounding spatial fabric tightens, the closing “construct vi” takes a distorted melody through hypnotic and effervescent cycles of microscopic variations.

It is an emphatic cutting of the knot after a process of gradual suffocation. Which only goes to prove that Dirk Serries and Steve Wilson may not be easy to classify, but are definitely not keen on making things unnecessarily hard on their audience.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Fear Falls Burning
Homepage: Steve Wilson
Homepage: Soleilmoon Recordings

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