Some years ago Dirk Serries pensioned off his Vidna Obmana project to invest his energies in Fear Falls Burning. Early on in 59 Airplanes Waiting for New York, the air of a strange familiar wafts through the ambiguous lulling loops of “Needless to Say Anything.” Liner notes ID-ing Serries as “album consultant” and on mastering, along with Premonition Factory’s Sjaak Overgaauw using a synthesizer fed through loop devices, all point to Obmana’s ghost and a mentor in the wings. No charges of derivation, though, more a positive proclamation: Vidna Obmana is dead, long live Premonition Factory.
An organiser of Antwerp’s Live Looping Festival, Overgaauw is a leading light in the international looping community. He deploys “interactive live looping,” a continuous, cumulative exchange between spontaneous musicality and automated process. Tracks were edited out of extended improvisations, this aspect affording much of their distinction: no beginning, no ending, no development, no telos. Here, when a revenant motif surfaces, the process innards are glimpsed, while elsewhere all is colourform shapeshift and shadow drift. Thrumming chorales collide gently with tectonic drone plateshifts, as the Overgaauw method rolls out in spatial swells and fall-backs, neon-lit harmonies flickering against a dark-lit backdrop, spectral figures in low gravity fields.
The set spools out in five pieces medium-length, one long-form, different moods and designs, the whole imbued with classic Ambient cadence. A minimal dynamic sensibility presides, the nocturnal of “To The Dark Place Where It Leads” shifting to the diurnal of “The Future Will Be Whatever We Make It”. The elegiac piano vapour trails of the title track trill out in a more maximal Music for Airports, edged by chthonic stirrings, before resolving to more iridescent timbres, between a deceptive dream lull and the phantom soundtrack to your headspace cinema. Back to Vidna, a kinetic of exhale-inhale reveals itself further on the closing “Only Birds Know Where to Fly”, which dips into pools of Kosmische and old school space music. 59 Airplanes proves an incantatory swim in timbral waters whose dark undercurrents render it all the more inviting.
Review by Alan Lockett