**300 copies, 2019 stock** "Minimal art is often presented as an act of simplification, a field in which nothing much happens and lesser (or even lazy) artists can have a field day. However, it is both in the visual arts and in music, perhaps one of the most misunderstood movements. Minimal artists not only sought out a certain core essence, but leading artists and theorists, such as Donald Judd, also offered a reaction against the extravagant focus on the subjective by the abstract expressionists, and proposed a new way of looking, experiencing and listening. As such, it was so much more than the much coveted minimal lifestyle that focused on reduced possessions and wanting less. It was not just an ethical thing.The minimal creed did not remove the artist-creator from the picture, but the focus returned to the material at hand and the composers often made their point by limiting the material, using repetition and basic resources/rules to construct new music. The classic narratives and climactic structures were abandoned in favor of gradual transformations, slow movements or even pieces that went on and on, seemingly devoid of any change or climax.Even though he has usually been associated with different styles/genres (ambient, drones, avant-garde and, in the past few years, also free improvisation), Dirk Serries has always been a minimalist at heart. He is an artist whose journeys rarely involve the ingredients most people have grown so accustomed to, which is why many might even think his music is underdeveloped or lacks something. They are wrong. Early on Serries already understood there are different, challenging ways to play and compose.The ambient chapter has officially been closed, but the Tonus cycle has shifted the focus. The acoustic music Serries creates with his partner Martina Verhoeven and several guests may seem deliberately slow and unflinchingly stark, and this interpretation with British viola player and improviser Benedict Taylor is no exception. Of course these musicians are not (only) interested in meeting expectations and offering the ‘familiar things’ Judd referred to. On the contrary: their music making is an investigative act, an exploration with limited means and rules, but it is one that comes with a responsibility and also expects a commitment from the listener. The slow strumming, securely distributed keystrokes and unusual treatment of the strings are offered in a myriad of constellations and variations that raise your awareness of form and material, but also remind you of the force of silence and space.You might not get the extended melodic lines, easy ecstasy and familiar harmonies that are so often at the core of Western music, but you will be rewarded with a challenging and different view, in which the autonomy of the music (sounds, textures, space) is given prominence. It is, simply put, not about passively hearing, but actively listening. This is not new in itself, but the way these musicians rework this idea is definitely intriguing and rewarding. - Guy Peters
Dirk Serries : acoustic guitar
Benedict Taylor : viola
Martina Verhoeven : piano
Performed, recorded, mixed and mastered at the Sunny Side Inc. Studio, Anderlecht (Belgium) on December 9th 2017.