synopsis decay was the ambient and contemporary project of dutch musician marcello dirks. marcello made music solo for the most part of his life but has also playing in – mainly gothic, bands in the late 1980’s and the first half of 1990. born and bred in rotterdam.
after falling in love with the electric guitar and music in general at the age of ten, the tone was set for a life of discovery and wonder. later, in the early 1980’s and getting introduced to artists such as brian eno, harold budd, john hassle, steve reich, phillip glass, white noise, this heat, einstürzende neubauten, holger czuckay, tuxedomoon and the residents really opened up a whole new world and in them were the foundations for synopsis decay, the pavement was laid down to walk on.
being extremely shy and insecure in those days, marcello started buying recording equipment and instruments to compensate for the lack of band members and consequently, became a self taught multi-instrumentalist.
the very first recordings (which have been lost for the most part) where basically synth-tributes to the residents and tuxedomoon and later evolved into an eclectic mix of all sorts if genres. every moment not recording, was spend experimenting with any instrument and piece of effects’ equipment he could lay his hands on. though most of those experiments, where done with synthesizers and guitar, marcello also used woodwinds, voice and percussion. especially on the early days of midi, it delivered some nice, unexpected results of which only three (live/rehearsal room) recordings survived. these recordings – na1, na2 and na3, where the first made using a strict template and created from a clear concept and is what synopsis decay is all about.
photo (C) benjamin silva-pereira
this thing of scribbling reviews and criticism about music comes in a very deviant, dangerous and deranged way (the three d’s). who am i to analyse and critique this album or that other one that comes my way? how dare i to evaluate and write about them if i do not possess a vast and academic education on music and criticism? these are some questions that always assault me when i have my headphones filled with music and i feel the urge to write, to put on words my thoughts of the music playing. this exercise is, obviously, one i enjoy thoroughly, otherwise i wouldn’t bother, at all! i tried to find excuses not to write them. then i found out that some readers actually enjoyed the piece, weather they agreed with my opinion and with what i wrote, or not. i remember that in the eighties i was writing to this regional newspaper and i was producing a weekly column entitled ‘the name of words’ and there was one article i wrote about the band telectu and their double vinyl album, off off. the disc was hand printed and with an edition of 500 copies. i listened to it several times before i dared to write anything down. it was the case of love at the first sight, or love at first listening, and i was terrified with the fact that i had to write about it. the fact was that one of the tracks was based on a numerical poem by eugenio de melo e castro said by an actor and accompanied by the electronics and electronic guitars of jorge lima barreto and vitor rua. the fact that i could use the poetry, the robotised voice saying the numbers, liberated me immensely and i could produce a piece for the newspaper. the reaction was minimal, from the readers, but, there is always a but, the fact i didn’t know much about the musicians and i could write as i felt, the article produced a small amount of correspondence between me and some curious readers. thus i kept attached to this idea: write what your instinct and ears tell you, you don’t need to know about music... i know this is a very bad excuse, but, as a melomaniac, i insist in being myself (and in the process i have to invent neologisms! melomaniac is a word that doesn’t exist in english! melo (music) maniac (obsessive), makes sense, no?)
something similar happened with the music of marco lucchi )... and something terrible is happening now as i see the notes on synopsis decay (there is an autobiography here as well.) i met synopsis decay music on the soundcloud website last year and i’ve been listening to these pieces since then. i could download some and the ones i couldn’t i kept signing in to streamline them... that was the way i came to write the following piece. something nice happened during the listening of those pieces. i became silent and i just allowed the music to flow. it was just two weeks ago that i realised that synopsis decay (marcello dirks from the netherlands) wrote comments about each and all the tracks he presented on soundcloud. horror, horror! i’ve listened to the tracks over and over again, and never noticed the comments! i confess that i refused to read those, as i had written the article about what the music told to. so, until today, i really do not know what marcello dirks wrote about his music, i just listen to the music and have the titles. the exercise may be futile, thus, of i publishing my images and thoughts, and then, oops, he just felt and explained the music completely differently... well, marcello, you may write back and contradict me. (to listen to the whole of the pieces, please go to sondcloud.com/synopsisdecay) i will be preoccupied only with a segment of his work, SONGS FOR THE DECEASED:
A SONG FOR THE DECEASED: this is a collection of six works of an extreme melodic ambient filigree where i find a satiresque grace that flows without notion of itself – and i ask, are these pieces a kind of innocence? the subtle piano playing in a delicate net, natural sounds pulsating and gently whaling in spirals of echoes. there are discreet changes of chords evoking an interior respect for memory. because memory seems to be implicit on these works. SOLITUDE TRAIN: starts almost inaudible immersed on distance sounds, almost unperceptible, a waltsy melody of hidden nocturnal life. one could title it adagio cantabile, or the portrait of a classical ignudus. DESCEND: once again the ghostly spiralling of echoes, soundscape/seascape of rusting vessels in the deepness of the ocean, the vibration of sound of a multitude of multicoloured fish. children playing on the playground, the underwater children, the mermaids. intermittent gulps of iodine and iron, the sirens calling for the souls. is this the undersea celestial paradise? the metal reverberation of an ethnic voice treated electronically in loops – this is an alternative dreamy and hypnotic cosmos that at the same time is tenebrous, is this an underwater cemetery? is this the place of the souls? the heaven of the dead? RADIANCE: this composition brings me memories of a commonplace, and yes, it sounds enoesque and buddesque, but that is a compliment. i remember to read that these were ‘ambient’ pieces. then comes the same old question, what is ambient music? einsturzend neubaten aren’t ambient music? noise, isn’t noise ambient? techno? they create and bring a ‘ambient’ to our brains, they spring reactions inside of us and result, also, on the environment we are in. or is ‘ambient’ a twinkling piano and natural sounds, only? musak, elevator music, new age chimes and flutes? (on this part i wrote a few paragraphs about what is ‘ambient’ but it is so repetitious that i just cut it out.) SOFIA: this track has got a very spiritual feeling to it. the initial dissonance of the chords are amazing, this is definitely anti-haste music, a lullaby to the mind, even with the discordance. who is singing in this operatic calmness, the mermaids or the lost souls? here we inhabit another world. if being dead sounds like this, i want to be dead! perfect example of the skills and artistry of mister dirks are the last three minutes where the chords and the melody takes us even deeper to the synopsis decay world. SCENT OF SPRING: this is impeccably esoteric and curious. there are echoes (inside my brain, while listening) of ‘memories of green’ by vangelis, but it is an aural illusion of mine. again we have plangent abstract background sounds, horses and carts, cars? i don’t know, i just feel this is right, the use of synths is majestic. are these more false memories or the essence of memory?
these are notes, rushed notes written two months ago. go to soundcloud and listen, as a complement, PHASES. It is worthwhile.
photo (C) benjamin silva-pereira
conversations with marcello:
catalogue of wonders 15 jan 20:19
dear marcello, today is being a very sad day. memories from the past as ghosts impregnating me and i do not want them. i didn't want to post 'la mer' because i thought it is crapt, as usual, lots of hiss and no craft at all. but now, i just open the net and i saw your message.
it is not enough to thank. we live in a yes, thank you society...
nevertheless i appreciate and send you my best and felt regards and thanks, ben
synopsis decay send a message yesterday 15:51
dear ben, i'm listening to your latest upload right now (je suis en toi le secret changement) and so far, i'm deeply impressed and highly satisfied. i can't really tell yet whether i like this one better or the one i heard yesterday. they're both quite profound and i absolutely mean what i say when i use words such as 'well-crafted'. you've really taken this genre to a higher level as far as i'm concerned. it feels felt through, and the atmosphere in these works become almost tangible. (if that's the right word?)
funny enough, i've sort been in the same sort of state of mind as you have, these past few days. (we're at 9:24 in the track and i really love the development) so i think i can empathize with you there. working (virtualy, over the internet, so far) with vika on the 'schitalochka' piece (on my diex account) brings both great excitement and heartfelt fear at the same time. i'm always reminded of those words david sylvian uses in 'ghosts' http://mog.com/music/david_sylvian/god's_monkey:_retrospective/ghosts
it's strange how memories can sometimes linger around like a bad smell you can't seem to get rid of completely, no matter how long ago. i think the expression you used discribed it very well; 'impregnating'. you're obviously a highly sensitive character and i like that. (28:15 into the track and i'm at a loss for words...)
coming to the end of your piece, i just don't know what to say anymore. words don't seem all that significant all of a sudden. so i'll better leave it for what it is. i really (!) appreciate your message and hope to send some heartfelt regards and respect back to you. hoping its going to be a beautiful weekend. marcello
catalogue of wonders yesterday 18:17
dear marcello, until i wrote my drunk message today, and apart from knowing the name 'diex' on soundcloud, i never had a thought... then, suddenly today, a tought came to my mind.
so i went to my (never used) space and checked it out!
is it you that a few months asked me to be your friend on myspace, and i acepted because the track you sent me was utterly charminf and beautifully charming? i believe so. i hope so.
i do not have words, as you yourself put, to thank you or describe how much your words shock me and, yes, made almost cry. i can not (can not) play an intrument or read or play music. now you can imagine how my tears are about to spring out...
the ghosts of my life are wilder than the wind...
yes, i love sylvian (not a fan fan), but his voice, songs, stories and experiments, yes, i adore.
going back to my very old room (the last time i was there was 14 years ago...) brought me ghosts, too many for my taste, but because the storms were horrific and i couldn't get out i plugged in my old machines (that till today i do not know how to use) and they worked! (kind of) mum kepts them in the hope i come back one day. and the result were three tracks (the third is horrendus!)
and yes, the inspiration for those tracks were novels that i re-read and poetry (i love the frenchies), but you are right. words! words, for what? being a very non-musician your words, after all, gain another dimension. maybe all is but poetry. we just don't perceive it. wrong connection, i guess.
isn't soundcloud stupendous? i am writing very personal things to someone i do not know... that is beautiful (or is it the kindness of strangers i am so attached so?). nevertheless, your letter (i am old fashioned!) makes me tearful and extremelly happy. many blessings and all the very very very best, ben xxx
synopsis decay send a message today 01:26
ben! oh my god.... your message and listening to your latest track... it's the most brilliant thing i ever heard!!! (and i really, really mean that :)) your tearfulness in turn, fills me with... joy, tears, inspiration and the need to, well shut the hell up really.... but how can i be silent when what i'm hearing right now (and reading as well) is going straight to every fiber that is me. i know this. it sounds like i've always known this track. it is everything i know about music and have listened to my entire life. if i was to die right here, right now, i would be an extremely happy man. and that's just talking about your art. 'cause that's what it is! it's not just sound and notes put together. there's a profoundness going on here that's rare and hard to find! you might not be able to play an instrument, but i rarely came across a man that is so much an artist... and there it is again. words are utterly useless. and that's (i think) where your strength is. the cornerstone where all forms of art meet. literature, music, painting, drawing, dancing and multimedia. you are in tune with all that and that's what is your talent. in my book your an absolute genius. you don't make collages just like that. you can't... (i've had a few pints by now, so please, bare with me )0_o(
and about stupendousness... yeah, that never ceases to amaze me. its the same here. i'm a fairly open person. nevertheless; i'm not in the habit of... see, at a loss for words again.
oh yeah, it was me that invited you in ourspace. wasn't it the african (i really can't remember the title right now) track i sent, by the way? i really try not to make places like myspace a way of collecting a ton of meaningless, so-called 'friendships' but sometimes the best of intentions get snowed under. right now, i have a very busy job and am working on three different musical projects. (songs for the deceased, the 'phases' series and a project i started with viktoriya yermolyeva. she's a brilliant pianist from kiev, who lives in amsterdam and is moving away from classical music)
i've totally lost my train of thought and forgot what i was about to say... i do know this, however. thank you, from the bottom of my heart. for your kind words, your beautiful music and, well... for being you. know, that you're a brilliant artist and possibly, a beautiful person (see what i mean)
31 january 2010: possibly genius
hey ben, i didn't notice the youtube link on your soundcloud before. these visuals fit the track perfectly! absolutely brilliant! you did this yourself as well? in the same way you do your phonographies?
i've been meaning to write back, but i've been soooo busy (not sure if thats a valid excuse...) i keep finding new layers in your tracks, new depths to delve in to... yeah, i'm a big fan! i think your secretly a genius in hiding :) kind regards, marcello (diex)
6 february 2010: e: re:possibly genius - hey benjamin.
so nice to hear from again. you know, i've going over this again and again this past week, not sure whether too offer or not. assistance, that is... but if you'd like, i could set up the basics for your site. just to get it going and then, when i'm not so swamped with work any longer (working on single with vika, pre-producing vika's album, mixing and mastering a demo for the analog affair and of course my synopsis decay in desperate need of some attention and my regular daytime job. i'm a healthcare worker by the way) we could look into the finishing touches.
it's funny how that works, but somehow i've found it to be more efficient working on several things at once instead of picking one thing at a time. you'd think it would be the other way around...
i used to be a graphic designer/desktop publisher and worked on a number of websites. at one point i decided i just didn't wanted a sitting-job all day, every day and gave it up. a 'sneak-preview' of the site for my synopsis decay was uploaded yesterday http://www.xs4all.nl/~dirks9/
of course i've been out of it for a while now so i'm feeling a bit rusty, but this was only a few hours of work and i'll perfect it the coming days. there's still a lot to be done.
it's upped on my provider's server for now, the final url will be synopsisdecay.eu
okay, getting ready for work again. let me know if you'd like some help. it would be in my interest to, you know. this way you'd have more time for creative output and that would benefit me greatly. i really enjoy your work soooo much.
have a wonderful day! marcello
(c) + (p) marcello dirks / synopsis decay
(c) 2013 catalogue of wonders (arts) london & benjamin silva-pereira