Fear Falls Burning: The Carnival of Ourselves

Fear Falls Burning: I'm One of Those Monsters Numb With Grace

Dirk Serries' long-form guitar meditations sound as mesmerizing today as they did upon their original release three years ago. Prior to issuing The Carnival of Ourselves and I'm One of Those Monsters Numb With Grace, Serries had only just begin recording under the Fear Falls Burning name; when he did, however, the floodgates opened as eight releases were produced within a single year. In re-issuing the pair in question, Tonefloat opted not to repress the vinyl but to release them on CD and supplemented by bonus material, new cover photography, and mini-album cardboard sleeves. While the original 2006 vinyl releases could only handle a twenty-minute piece per side, the CD re-issues accommodate an extra extended track each, the twenty-eight-minute “And the Land Torn Down” and thirty-four-minute “Dead Wisdom” respectively (both culled from the albums' original sessions).

“The Carnival of Ourselves I” inaugurates the ghostly disc one with a trance-inducing meditation that's too melodic and varying to be labeled a drone. More tranquil than aggressive and frenetic, the piece's shimmering atmospheres, crepuscular shadings, and undulating flow are calm-inducing, and, like an awakening organism, it develops in almost slow motion as it imperceptibly builds in intensity, density, and volume. Serries begins “The Carnival of Ourselves II” by laying an entrancing foundation of shuddering lattices and then progressively blurs the material with layer upon layer of droning washes until it becomes a slow-burning mass. The mournful guitar ruminations that smolder through “And the Land Torn Down” make it feel like the last rites performed by survivors at an incinerated landscape.

On disc two, the raw, rippling stabs and hovering electrical tones that interleave throughout “I'm One of Those Monsters Numb With Grace I” lend the piece hypnotic power, while its cosmic counterpart, “I'm One of Those Monsters Numb With Grace II” burrows even further into one's unconscious with fiery waves of smeared tones and washes. Though it builds slowly, the second piece reaches an almost violent level of dissonance and intensity in its final minutes. “Dead Wisdom” (almost as long as the CD's other tracks combined) pushes the stabs and meanderings of the first setting to such an incendiary extreme, listening to it could be likened to a psychotic episode or a sonic depiction of Hades. Brace yourself for a harrowing plunge into the darkest recesses of the psyche. Regardless of format, both releases are indispensable additions to the Fear Falls Burning discography.

June 2009