|Artist: Principle of Silence|
Principe of Silence is more of a concept than it is a collaboration. Referred to as a "controlled coincidence", Principle of Silence initially placed together two extraordinary Belgian musical talents, Electronic Musician Vidna Obmana and Double Bassist Joris De Backer, at an intimate, candle lit Winter Solstice concert. Recorded on 21 December 2001 at The Old Theobaldus Chapel in Brecht, Belgium, this debut performance is now Live, the duo's premiere CD release. Principle of Silence soon returned to the live environment as it was discovered through various studio sessions that they were unable to produce music of the same profundity, immediacy and weight without an attentive audience and reverential setting.
Those familiar with his work will not be surprised to find that the music on Live represents a new area of exploration for Vidna Obmana. This album adds to the ever expanding range of musical conceptualizations this artist has become known for.
In February of 2004, STAR'S END had the opportunity to gain insight from Vidna Obmana (aka Dirk Serries) into his live acoustic project with Joris De Backer: Principle of Silence:
Vidna Obmana (Dirk Serries): Nothing specific really but since we both, Joris and I, share a passion for the solitude and silence around us, I thought it might be appropriate to call our project 'principle of silence'. For me personally, it also seemed a good opportunity to set myself a bit further apart from the direct Vidna Obmana exposure. I will never be comfortable enough to use my own birthname for whatever music I record, so using Vidna Obmana under the 'principle of silence' banner does lower my concerns a bit.
How did this collaboration come about? How did you discover a collaborator so in-tune with your musical ideas?
Since I go through Joris' studio for mastering my CD albums, he naturally became acquainted with my works. Joris expressed an interest in my music and explained that this was something he had not heard before - acknowledging that he originates from the classical and jazz-orientated music communities. I myself have been into jazz for years so when I discovered that he was a jazz musician - on double-bass - I immediately thought that a collaboration would be a very interesting fusion, if Joris was up to it. And he was. Not only was he able to set aside his academic education but he also contributed essential elements on double-bass to the overall pallet of experimental sounds and structures.
How would you describe this music to someone familiar only with your electronic works?
I always have difficulty in describing what I'm doing whether it's in solo mode or in collaboration with another musician. I do believe, despite the original (and different) character of elements used on 'principle of silence', it still has a similar feeling in atmosphere to my electronic works. But on the other hand I'm more tempted to label it avant-garde, rather than ambient, where the separation between styles like jazz, fourth-world, classic and experimental becomes indistinct.
Why did you decide to work in the "acoustic" mode?
Again, my fascination with jazz and other more avant-garde genres motivates me to try-out different things. During our first series of jam-sessions, Joris and I began to realize that the strength and originality of our music together could only 'come to life' when we improvised and played in a more 'acoustic' setting as opposed to relying on the more expansive and detailed set-up of the recording studio. We both felt that the raw character, unedited and uncorrected, of our music was key in what we wanted to achieve together. Therefore, it was rather natural and obvious that our debut album is a live album - and our next one will be the same.
What was the nature of the audience? and the venue? Describe the importance of these factors in their contribution to the success of Principle of Silence
Our debut album was realized as a culmination of concerts we played that year and the year before. A local organizer and fan proposed to do a concert at a very small but eerie chapel in the middle of nowhere during the Winter Solstice of 2002. We knew this was our chance to record a live album as we felt that by this time we were comfortable enough to pull it off. It was a very adventurous event as first of all it was in the middle of the winter and it was freezing cold. The old but very atmospheric chapel in the midst of farming ground had no heating so it was very very cold inside. We brought in a portable heating device but due to its noise we only could heat up the chapel until just prior to the concert. That's why we decided to play for a maximum of 50 minutes - beyond that the temperature dropped back down again. No artificial light - only candles lit the chapel and along with the freezing temperatures outside it truly gave the concert a very unique character. I'm sure that the situation and atmosphere of the chapel contributed to the focused attention of the audience and that it made us motivated to play at our best. It was a unique experience.
Describe the experience of playing this music live (and the relationship between you and Joris as well as between you and the audience).
Despite the fact we hardly had much experience in playing music together, immediately after the first couple of sessions we felt we had to perform live to make it really come together. The pressure and the magic of the moment itself definitely moved us to a higher plateau. Our ears, on the spot inspiration and body language became the most important factors in creating the music of Principle of Silence.
After a few self-organized concerts, to which we invited primarily an audience of friends and 'insiders', we started to get offers from known venues. Eventually we got to play for the Belgian classical radio and at one of the biggest summer festivals in Belgium. More and more we started to enjoy the live performance as, slowly but surely, this act created our setlist and songs. Through performances on stage the songs soon became simple motifs and spontaneous improvisational interaction motivated us to go deeper into a specific theme. Listening back to the recordings of these concerts helped us to select and choose the interesting elements and sections which we would perform live again at our next concert... but to a greater degree of perfection. The tension and intensity of performing this music live before an audience made for some interesting and inspiring moments; we both knew that we had to stay in complete focus as a single mistake could ruin the atmosphere and mood of we were trying to achieve.
To our surprise, despite our music's non-commercial character, the audiences at both the intimate chapel concerts and the big summer festivals were very enthusiastic. This was most likely due to the fact that the audience saw live interaction between the musicians and some 'real', identifiable instruments on stage (as opposed to small electronic devices).
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 8 February 2004