Haven by Innerwoud & Astrid Stockman

Release date: December 14, 2018
Label: Consouling Sounds

Innerwoud is a Belgian music project led by contrabassist Pieter-Jan Van Assche that tries to combine all the elements of modern classical music, post-rock, ambient, avant garde. For Haven, their latest project, they have combined forces with a soprano singer Astrid Stockman for quite a unique concept – a series of musical lines is produced live, combining different sounds of the double bass, interspersed with Stockman’s vocals.

Assche and Stockman created this music for a multimedia performance of Medeamaterial, a modern version of the old Greek epos. The project did several performances live, but for the recorded version, a combination of those performances was selected for the release.

 

Described in plain words it all sounds dry and high-brow and something a casual post-rock/ambient listener might wish to simply skip it. And that would be quite a mistake. Through the four ‘Elegy’ movements Ashe and Stockman have created quite a flowing, and melodic set, that works by itself. This is important bearing in mind that quite a number eventual listeners didn’t have to see the eventual live presentation that includes choreographer/dancer Lieselot Vanderrost.

The music is dominated by Asche’s double bass interpretations, showing all the musical shades this instrument can create, without at any point going into something that could be called a bass solo. There was a distinct possibility that the music could be dominated by Stockman’s vocals, but they intersperse Ashe’s variations, never dominating or overpowering the flow, something that could have been alienating for the listeners that are not exactly fans of classical music vocals.

The result has quite a flowing, mesmerizing effect as if they have processed the music through a long endless loop, never crossing the border into something that could be called dissonance. The closing ‘Elegy IV’ is impressive, with Ashe holding the theme and Stockman’s processed vocals in the second part of the movement.

Haven is one of those projects that doesn’t hold much promise on paper but brings along quite several musical pleasures to a daring listener.

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