Fear Falls Burning – Function Collapse

Dirk Serries has been composing interstellar, compartmentalised Drone structures for thirty-five years now, fourteen of which have been spent as the figurehead of his Fear Falls Burning project. The Belgian’s latest album, Function Collapse (Consouling Sounds), shows the scope of the electric guitar and the man’s wizardry of command.

With two tracks covering half an hour, the simply titled ‘Part One’ begins with eerie feedback as a bizarre, spasmodic riff. It’s an exercise in turning the guitar into a cat, the initial fuzz and flay a synthesised version of a caterwaul, but the rhythmic pulse adds a fervid tension belonging to an electrification of foreplay: monochromatic animals taking time to identify the mating attraction. The fire, the power grows, with no particular pattern: just the ebb and flow of the sea with a live wire running through it, a freeform epitome of electrocution. When the drums drop in it’s unexpected and enlivening but the joy here is the emergence of Baritone Saxophone, squealing phenomenon rather than feeling, a development rather than a progression: the mere herald of Change, if you will.

The bass-led, resonant intro to ‘Part B’ soon sees the Sax return: not with a flavour of Blaxploitation, neither of Soul, but a blend of dirty air and sadness; the darkling grease of the undertow steadily polluting the oscillating throat of melody. It’s as if 9/11 is being relived through the ears: a declaration of war with it’s physicality confirmed so subtly; the degradation of decency, of humanity, replaced by the panicked anxiety of survival; the visual decomposition imagined for all to see.

If this all seems the description of a work of art, well, it is. Function Collapse, however, is also the aural representation of its description, despite the swell paradoxically growing to the close. It’s vertigo in Sound, a cascade flowing up and down, confusing the narrow-minded listener who likes to interpret the flow of emotion. As so often when intelligence clashes with a musical form, here it has found an ideal: a sonorous expression of a particular, isolating life experience. It demands your attention and, like a life form itself, will morph each time you return.

8 / 10

PAUL QUINN