Granola Import - Scratch The Surface EP (Records DK)

  Van Muylem    10 mei 2021

Granola Import's reverberations off the surface of a 3 a.m. canal are a 180° departure from Udo Van Roosbroeck's former electronic repertoire (ZiBiT, Devoted Symbols). GI may only date back to 2015, but it's the product of long incubation: Van Roosbroeck first started branching off into more conventional instruments in 2003, absorbing energy from Troissoeur, with whom he shared rehearsal space. It was after a visit to Canada with ZiBiT that things really got going, as Van Roosbroeck translated the spruce-and-granite Canadian patois into the bartops-and-cobblestones vernacular that you hear today, first with Marc Cuypers in the raw blues combo The Mal Inn, and lately as Granola Import.

So why Granola? Because GI's music is at once soft yet possessed of crunch. Because it's best served by the heaping bowlful, the better to appreciate its myriad ingredients. And because, like granola, it's familiar and classic (yet not too familiar or too classic: in GI's sound you may find elements of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Nick Cave, but also of Wax Mannequin, Shawn Clarke, Beirut and of classical and traditional music from around the world).

And why Import? Because of the collaborative and wide-ranging nature of the project. With music big enough to fit inside a cello case and as intimate as a fireside C harp, as supple as a clarinet run and as agile as a squeeze-box break, GI benefits from a growing list of co-conspirators who bring juice to gigs and recording sessions. What's more, GI will import to the repertoire of originals a select corpus of covers, mostly Canadian.

(Text by Richard-Yves Sitoski; poet, historian and musician living in Owen Sound, Canada, with his lovely wife , musical partner and pussy-hat knitter , Mary Little.)

So far all the info needed to understand the whole package. Let’s get on with the music!

Ambitions is the song where my wife asks me if this is a Russian guy singing (as I reviewed HOWLIN’ ANTON BLEAK just before this one). I hear a lot of instruments: a clarinet, drums, an acoustic guitar and an accordion.Patricia Van Cutsem lean's her voice to this one and the next one (backings).

Scratch The Surface builds up slowly with a guitar and some humming. Once the main vocals starts you also hear a woman on the background. The bluesy electronic guitar sounds really like coming from overseas. It must be a cruel coincidence but our family was supposed to go to Canada last summer and now I have a third link with that country six months after we should have been there! Halfway we even have some kind of Toots Thielemans / Neil Young moment (with the harmonica). The combination of both voices remind me slightely of Cowboy Junkies.

Iranian Marketing girl from Toronto is basically just vocals and an accordion. The song sounds a bit like as if Jacques Brel was still in the spring of his life and mixed it with some melancholia. It might also be an influence from the Balkan countries (Geoff Berner or more into Klezmer). According to Udo these are also important infuences: Bruce Peninsula, Geoff Berner, Joe Hall, The Gertrudes mixed with Fred Neil , Beirut, The Band, Johnny Cash,…

Decency has a modern sound and almost sounds like a duet (genre Cowboy Junkies). The country & western touch is never far away in this song. Joanna Luna voice adds up nicely in the background.

Sea Blue Crush sounds indeed like a typical sailors song (not the Alestorm type, but still). Last one is Maria: lead by an accordion and with some phrases sung in French too (that last part attaches it a bit more to the Jacques Brel sound).

Scratch The Surface | Granola Import (