Belgium’s granvat describes itself as a platform. “It’s a gathering of particles,” according to the organization’s website. “granvat works curator-based, and does not function like a record label. We love to create, produce and present original work and concepts. granvat is founded by Bert and Stijn Cools.”
One of its major projects, dating back to 2015, is a three-part series of extended ambient pieces under the name Book of Air. The latest, se (in) de bos, composed by Stijn Cools, features an 18-piece orchestra called vvolk.
The players come from a jazz and classical music background:
- Laurens Smet – electric bass
- Hendrik Vanattenhoven – double bass
- Nathan Wouters – double bass
- Stijn Cools – drums and cymbals
- Sep François – vibraphone and cymbals
- Indre Jurgeleviciute – kankles
- Fruz Tonteling – harmonium
- Wout Gooris – rhodes
- Bert Cools – electric guitar
- Ruben Machtelinckx – electric guitar
- Benjamin Sauzereau – electric guitar
- Niels van Heertum – euphonium
- Yann Lecollaire – bariton saxophone
- Viktor Perdieus – tenor saxophone
- Thomas Jillings – tenor saxophone
- Erik Bogaerts – alto saxophone
- Frans van Isacker – alto saxophone
- Mathieu Robert – soprano saxophone
This new work is “inspired by the fluctuating objectivity of our daily observations,” according to the album’s notes. It rolls out slowly over the course of an hour.
Given its acoustic instrumentation, the piece has enormous depth. There is a striking subtlety to the performances, even as the volume level rises and falls throughout.
Search out each player’s contribution, or take it all in as an enormous whole. Your choice. This blurs the distinction between ambient and new classical music so completely that neither label feels sufficient.
The first entry in this mesmerizing series landed in November 2015. fieldtone or “roomtone” is described as “the ‘silence’ recorded at a location or space when no music is played or dialogue spoken. Every room is different, and these recordings always carry their unique character.”
vvolk was released in June 2016. It’s said to be “[i]nspired by the slow tempo and invisible motion of nature; how the seasons pace without sudden turns, slow and gentle. Seemingly still, yet always in motion.”