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5 stars 2 Years ago Aranis released their 5th album "Made in Belgium" which contained compositions of various Belgium composers. Apparently the album was a (relative) success so Aranis decided to make a follow up: Made in Belgium part 2.

More of the same perhaps?


There are some distinct differences compared to part 1. The most obvious one is that flute player Jana Arntz provides lead vocals on a couple of tracks. This is a really nice addition to their instrumental capabilities so my only complaint is that I wish there was more of it.

Furthermore on MIB 2 the intensity levels seem to be turned up a few notches. Tracks like Skip 21, Hit, Tolles Pferd and La vague all show an aggressiveness that wasn't there before. I like it!

All the tracks are good and show different sides of the band. There is a wild rocky tune (la vague) , a tango-ish tune (kablamo), a funny tune (Tolles Pferd), an atmospheric tune (DSK) and everything in between. I wont go into detail on all the tracks but I do want to specially mention the last two tracks.

First there is the mighty "cell stress" of UZs Kurt Budé. My favorite track on the album and probably the best track they've ever recorded. The track is a 10 minute multi-headed beast that builds up to a great climax that leaves you gasping for air. Luckily it is followed by the wonderful melancholic and folky Funanmbul, composed by (for me completely unknown) Aurelia Dorzee. This is a prefect track to dream away with and calm down to so that, after its finished, you can play the CD immediately again.

Overall I think part 2 is an improvement over part 1 (and I already completely loved that one). Together with 'the Cellar and point- Ambit' this is absolutely my favorite record of the year.

I guess there is only one thing left to say. Aranis are tagged with the dreaded Rio/Avant prog label. For many people this is the synonym of 'difficult unlistenable music'. Surely, Aranis make chamber rock; a stylistic marriage of modern classical chamber music, rock and folk but in this case it always stays a very structured and melodic affair. There is never any senseless noodling or complexity for the sake of sounding smart. In fact Aranis makes fairly accessible melodic music that could appeal to a much larger crowd, if they would get the chance to hear it. So please do not let that RIO-tag deter you and give this album a chance. It makes a great introduction to the music of Aranis and Belgium chamber rock in general.

Report this review (#1319754)
Posted Thursday, December 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars Aranis state on their Bandcamp page that they are pleased that orchestral and rock music are moving closer together in the avant garde underground. I wonder why only because there is little to no rock here; this seems more like chamber folk than chamber rock - Univers Zero, Art Zoyd. Of course, not having rock until towards the end doesn't mean that this is bad, nor that you should ignore it: as a piece of avant garde, a piece of chamber music, and a piece of Flemish folk, in all of this the album succeeds greatly. "Skip XXI" opens as we will proceed: scared strings and winds, and wild voices, all in a strange style. By the album's penultimate and longest track, "Cell Stress", the rock finally enters towards the middle to add to this sound wonderfully. These stand as the best tracks, but in the middle we still have weird, eerie, and unique mastery. The Flemish and French influences are palpable on most tracks, and even without the rock aspect this sounds like Zoyd. I would also go as far as to say that this can stand next to Zoyd's masterpieces. An excellent and off base release for avant-prog fans to savour.
Report this review (#1320381)
Posted Friday, December 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars ARANIS' (Belgium) "Made in Belgium II"- 2014, is a highly friendly release, tainted all over with late Univers Zero's (also Belgium)) kind of idiomatic progressions which kind of distract the attention to their more unique and own music expressions. But then again blame it on the weather (maybe).

Anyway, their perfect pitch sense of musicianship and synchronicity is also present as their country's fellow mates, which eventually surfaces, as mentioned, with attractive solutions to their more personal musical language efforts.

Now, to be fair, they kind of have, and I guess they know it, a great space to fit in UZ's shoes, which probably follows them like a lurking shadow, but then again their creative side certainly sets them on top of the new Chamber Folk/Rock ensembles or more in tune with their PA's address, something like Post-RiO with a cerain Avant-Prog quality.

****4 PA stars.

Report this review (#1544966)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2016 | Review Permalink

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