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CD Feature/ Fear Falls Burning: "First by a Whisper, then by a Storm (Special Edition)"

img  Tobias
Even though its release was dictated as much by chance as it was by careful planning, this special edition of “First by a Whisper, then by a Storm” couldn’t have come at a better time. By complete coincidence, Dirk Serries rediscovered a fair amount of copies of the CD version of the album, originally pressed in a strictly limited run to support his first tour, and decided to turn their release into something special.

This new edition therefore does not only include the original CD, but also a 180g Vinyl disc, containing some additional footage from the first footsteps taken under the Fear Falls Burning banner. It brings together some of his shortest tracks ever (the second piece on Side A finishes after a mere three and a half minutes) as well as some material few would today associate with the project. To put it short: This look into Serries’ past connects its audience with an ocean of potential futures, only some of which eventually materialised over the next couple of albums.

Especially the bonus Vinyl makes the difference here. Which is not to say that the digitally conserved pieces are without merrit. Quite on the contrary, they present excerpts or edits of what would be released on the 2CD set “He spoke in Dead Tongues” shortly afterwards as well as some exclusive tracks, which thoroughly deserve a wider appreciation. With their consistent exchange of atmospheric and aggressive moods, these compositions are marked by a playful use of effects and a remarkable confidence in the longterm impact of their themes, which are sometimes spread out over more than a quarter of an hour – still miniatures compared to the astral voyages of “Dead Tongues”, of course.

The discreet postrock touch of some of these pieces is mirrored by the bonus material. On “ii”, the otherwhise rich Fear Falls Burning sound is reduced to a couple of chords and broken melodies, evoking nocturnal images of pastoral beauty, while the veiled feedback of “iii” acts as a cracked shield for the haunting atonal ghost rushes hiding underneath. Closer “iv” is a minimalist vision, which develops from the centre to the outer rim and combines various antipodal movements into a gentle, hypnotic still life.

The first track here, meanwhile, is the full version of “the beautiful decline”, which was previously only available as a strongly cut edit and in two different remixes by Aidan Baker on a four-way split with Z’EV and John Duncan on Die Stadt. A slight temporal decay in two identical, octave-transposed two-tone themes is enough to fix the listener’s attention completely. Serries uses the additional freedom of the 12’’ version to introduce the motive in more length and to play down the importance of the accompanying drone layers, which are relegated to embelishments here, further increasing the magic pull of the main motive.

What is most remarkable about these tracks is how their naive charm works to their advantage – and how refined they are, even though this may not always be obvious right from the start. Especially in the longer pieces, there are many different events running according to their solipsistic logic, yet when one looks at the bigger pictures, they always contribute to the overall flow.

Instead of trying to make a point, the music rests peacefully in itself, making it a perfect Ambient soundtrack for late night reading. Chance is always a feedback process: Coincidence has dealt Dirk Serries a card and he has made the best possible use of it.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Fear Falls Burning
Homepage: Tonefloat Records

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