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Aranis - Aranis CD (album) cover





3.64 | 44 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Flemish and frequently feminine, these fine performers fabricate (so the alliteration failed me). I am not altogether sure what would qualify this album as avant-garde music in any sense of the term, but I do not care. This is absolutely gorgeous music birthed from completely classical sensibilities. My only major complaint is that during the second half the compositions themselves run out of fuel, thereby becoming more and more uninteresting. No, this is not rock- not in the vaguest sense of the term- but for those with any penchant for classical or chamber music, this is a must. Aranis's debut is quite a delightful surprise from a previously unknown Flemish septet.

"Indrigo" What an opener! Stuccato flute moves in, giving way to jabs from the violin and a steady, concentrated bass line. The pairing of the violin and flute create a concentrated blend of melodies that flow over rhythms that wax and wane in intensity.

"Jona" Subdued, yet with rich bows of bass sweet violin, this is a piece that lavishes the listeners with robust passages full of strings, but some massages the eardrums. I can only close my eyes and absorb the grandeur of the music.

"Vuur" The music is far busier here, with a driving rhythm- it makes me think of a spider quickly weaving a web and scurrying over it. The accordion and flute have a field day over a steady building rhythm, but the violins and piano do not allow them to have all the fun to themselves (just most of it).

"Yosu" The hum of the accordion brings in low piano and soft vocals. It has a clear melodic theme that the rest of the music revolves around in both exceptional harmony and slight discord.

"Oyma" One violin is bowed, the other plucked. The strings are the primary force behind this driving piece, while the other instruments perform more subservient roles.

"Zilezi" The beginning of this soothing piece is a musical balm that grows into its own infectious, bittersweet charm. For five minutes the repetitive bursts of sound continue until a pair of violins remain, droning on in the ether. The first traces of actual percussion emerge, ushering in powerful thrusts from the violins. The third section of this elongated piece involves a simple backing over which a forlorn accordion meanders, and then male vocals materialize. This vocal performance is perhaps the most "out there" aspect to this record, but despite the occasional falsetto cries and bursts of vitriol, it is still restrained and artistically performed.

"Questosteron" Acoustic guitar has a more prominent role in this piece, even though it only creates a foundation for the host of other graceful instruments. Soon the double bass backs up the guitar. Since this music has been compared to cinematic music, my mind wandered and I found an association with the Michael Keaton film Beetlejuice, as bizarre as that may be.

"Pantra" More elegant strings work through the introduction of the piece before turning into snarls. It becomes more stylish and sweeter as the composition progresses.

"Labyrinth" Accordion and violin give way to a deep bass riff. As with most of the pieces, this is more violin driven, but the violins are not content to play in conventional ways. As the music breaks off, gentle accordion and flute assume control.

"Wespengraf" Without question the most avant-garde piece on the album, this has spine-tingling blasts of violin, a languid accordion, and a dreary bass underneath it all. The accordion grows in a haunting way, but the piece seems to cut off prematurely.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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