Etched Above The Bow Grip (Raw Tonk) is a solo studio recording by guitarist Dirk Serries, who featured last year, alongside KTHXBYE‘s Colin Webster, saxophonist John Dikeman, and drummer Andrew Lisle, on an abrasive, unbroken half-hour improvisation issued by Raw Tonk with the utilitarian title Live at Cafe Oto. None of the first nine pieces here, by contrast, run even to four minutes; only the last couple stretch further.
Etched captures Serries in a relatively thoughtful state of mind on a series of concise, mordant études distilled from presumably open-ended improvisations.
The album carries a dedication: “In memory of Derek Bailey † 1930-2005″, and the slashing severity of Serries’ gestures, particularly on the stand-out title cut, confirms Bailey’s influence. But the album also reflects the more abrasive end of the outsider rock spectrum. “Clusters Bleed”, the track that follows naturally from “Etched Above the Bow Grip”, for instance, mirrors the New York No-Wave brusqueness of Arto Lindsay’s approach.
Where Bailey favoured a clean, clipped articulation, Serries marries a lacerative, gestural attack on “Thorn As Spite” and “Futility Wrath Allegory” with muzzy amplitude, so notes bleed into each other or tail off in distorted sustains. He carries the influence much as Thurston Moore does, with little or no trace of Bailey’s grounding in modal jazz, much less any lingering affection for melodic standards. The gentle but fidgety “In The Beckoning Rust” is the closest Serries comes to that.
Serries occasionally deploys relatively conventional alt-rock strategies: witness the staccato, deconstructed riffs that make up “This Brutal Vortex”, or the amp-fried melodic licks that kick off the sustained overload of “Assert Total Illusory Curve”; but some pieces are raw sound concoctions: take the brief opening episode of detuned string stress frottage titled “Sweet Ruin”, or “Diffused Wire Appliance” a 3:39 trawl through dis/connect static, scrabbly sprung contact sounds and occasional vocal interjections.
Of the two longer cuts that end the album, “Celestial Perfume” (05:05) focuses on shimmering, unstable voltages, and “The Broken Story End” (08:18) is a quiet succession of fragile, shimmering, tapped-out and scraped-up fretboard soundings.
Etched Above The Bow Grip is a fascinating and rawly compelling release.
Dirk Serries electric guitar, amps, effects.
Dikeman Noble Serries Trio – Obscure Fluctuations + Dikeman Serries Lisle Webster – Live at Cafe Oto.
KTHBYE – Details.
DunningWebsterUnderwood – Bleed.
Tejero / Serrato / Díaz – Sputnik Trio.
Buy Etched Above The Bow Grip direct from Raw Tonk.