Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Aranis - Made in Belgium CD (album) cover




From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
5 stars When Aranis released their first CD 10 years ago they were praised as the new stars of the Belgium avant-prog scene. Aranis themselves were not aware they were part of any scene nor was this scene known inside Belgium.

I am a bit reluctant to call Aranis avant prog. Avant-prog is always associated with darkness and in accessibility, while Aranis isn't very dark or very inaccessible. For the people that haven't heared them yet: they area a completely acoustic band that play with intensity combined with accuracy. None of the tunes are longer then they need to be and they never show off individually. There music is probably closer to modern classical music then to rock.

10 years later Made in Belgium can be seen as a big tribute to the many different artists and composers that Belgium has to offer that try to cross the borders between modern classical music, pop, rock, folk and jazz. The album contains 12 tunes of 11 different composers. Some are known to me ( like Daniel Denis, Roger Trigaux and Joris Vanvinckenroye) but most unknown. Different composers naturally means a lot of stylistic differences. Some songs are aggressive, some more minimalistic, a couple of more impressionistic tunes, a few more folky things. There are many moods and atmospheres on this album. The great part is: it all still sounds completely like Aranis. They can play a quiet minimalistic piece, like Wim Mertens Men of Leisure, or a fierce piece, like Erzats by Roger Trigaux; there is no doubt that this is Aranis at work.

I was not aware of the work of people like Wim Mertens, Wouter Vandenabeele and Jan Kuykens but their tunes really click with me. In fact there is not 1 tune I dislike. Seems I still have a lot of music to discover from this (relatively) small country.

For me 'made in Belgium'is a musical triumph. Maybe not their very best album (for me that is still Songs from Mirage) but certainly not far behind. Too bad the Belgiums are not aware of their avant prog scene because otherwise they could be damn proud of what is 'made in Belgium'. Normally I would rate this 4,5 stars but I am glad to round off to 5.

Report this review (#858828)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars After the three-band project including the Avant/RIO legends of Present and Univers Zero, Aranis decided to deepen the Belgian thing with their fifth album. The concept was for the band to reinterpret a composition from some ten different Belgian composers, including the well-known Wim Mertens, who will get twice the honour. Twelve tracks that will include one Aranis-leader Vanvinkenroye, but not all composers are well-known, even in small initiated circles. If RIO/Avant fans will recognize the Daniel Denis (UZ) and Roger Trigaux (Present) names, only a few will remember Jan Kuijken and maybe De Vleeschhouwer (now playing piano for Aranis)?. And that's about it. Of course, it's not to say that the lesser-known compositions are any less worthy, quite the contrary. But it would be relatively tough to tell apart any of these pieces apart in a blind test, because they're all pretty similar, outside the two Wim Mertens reprises, which are notably more barren or less complex.

Musically-speaking, we're somewhere between almost purely-classical music and the typical Belgian Chamber Prog that Aranis has become the epitome of. Sonically however, the absence of Dave Kerman's drumming gives back to the band its early sonic softer (and therefore less "rocky") flavour, but the complexity of some of the pieces brings their later efforts in mind. Soooo, MiB would sit somewhere between their first two albums and Roque Forte, so it is somehow a typical Aranis album, but still a far cry from my Preferred Songs From Mirage album. Apparently, their next project will more or less revisit that Mirage album under the Made In Belgium II moniker, thus prompting my enthusiasm.

Report this review (#867896)
Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I love Aranis. To me they represent the bravest of artists--being all acoustic, they have no space for mistakes, no means to cover up or hide behind effects or treatments; they represent the possibilities of intelligent, virtuosic music without electricity. Mega kudos!

I love this album--getting to know and re-know composers of modern chamber music (Belgian, all). Where this album suffers is the same place that all Aranis albums thus far have suffered: the songs, musics are lacking melodic "hooks" to lure the listener in and make them feel welcome, secure, at home. The pieces composed by WIM MERTENS ("Gentlemen of Leisure" and "Salernes") are the most melodic, mostly due to the smooth, minimalist style that Mertens wrote, so the Avant/RIO-shy listener might want to start there, but eventually all the songs grow on you. Aside from the two Mertens pieces, my favorites have become the gentle and folksy #5. "Where's Grommit?" (10/10) by Arne Van Dongen, the high-spirited "Bulgarian Flying Spirit Dances 2" (9/10) by UNIVERS ZERO/PRESENT/ART ZOYD's Daniel Denis, the circular and percussive #6. "Le Mar t'Eau" (9/10) by Geert Waegerman, the intricately layered yet smooth #7. "L1" (9/10) by Joris Vanvinckenroye, the Gothic KARDA ESTRA-like #2. "Le Feu" (8/10) by Wouter Vandenabeele, and the Bond movie soundtrack-like #3. "Inara" (8/10) by Ward De Vleeschhouwer.

As much as I believe in Aranis and their magical mission, I'll not rate this a five star masterpiece, but instead hold out for their next album of original songs. These serious virtuosos are so close to breaking through!

Report this review (#878972)
Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2012 | Review Permalink

ARANIS Made in Belgium ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of ARANIS Made in Belgium

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.