Book of Air | Se (in) de bos
Sub Rosa (LP/CD/DL)
This is an ongoing collaboration (this is the second ‘book of air’) composed by Stijn Cools and performed as an improvisation by the eighteen piece VVOLK orchestra, recorded in 2016, curated by the brothers Stijn and Bert Cools. Known for their sleep concerts, this hour-long work is perfectly suited for such.
First thing to mention, Se (in) de bos takes an incredible sense of restraint to bring this many people together wielding strings, horns and percussion in order to come out the other end in the form of an ambient passion play. In part due to the addition of harmonium (Fruz Toneling) which imparts its own ‘otherness’. A big nod of acknowledgement to Ivan Moreno who recorded this delectably iridescent work of sound art, and Werner Pensaert for a mischievously intense mix down. The core harmony of this grabs hold of you like a gigantic bearhug to lull you into another state of consciousness.
I’m unsure if this is the sound of something Flemish or not, but as a collective they infuse gentle flourishes that are spirited by patience and practice as a large group. It feels as though you can simply rest your weary mind for a while, and let them take over as you fall deeper into a listening experience. There are some gray corners rounded by the defining percussion of Cools and Sep François, but these moments are more breathy than brassy. And suddenly the chamber (orchestra) opens its flood gates, just a peak at first, but they build steadily in volume and velocity, and ultimately bring subtle fluctuations to the rhythm. Together they rise, drift, fall and repeat. More a continuum than a cycle.
A dreamlike setting of soft drones, and once in the final third the entire set of players come together as one with a thrust, in unison, building from the center outward. It’s amazing to hear so many horns creating an intoxicating wave of transitory spirit. The fluidity between the grounded upright bass and the remaining players becomes the dominant characteristic, and this just oozes into the sheen of a still lake. The pace is tentative, beguiling. Se (in) de bos eventually becomes a soundtrack for a solitary place, a safe haven. In the final inutes the whispery quiet chords change like leaves in Autumn, winking with a bit of saturated color, and draining, fading, softly from earshot.