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Aranis II album cover
3.89 | 38 ratings | 4 reviews | 34% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Kitano (3:57)
2. Vala (4:21)
3. Looking Glass (5:57)
4. Gona (4:44)
5. Walk in one's sleep (6:11)
6. Moja (4:22)
7. Waris (4:53)
8. Turbulentie (6:16)
9. Trog (4:03)
10. Lovey-Dovey (4:39)
11. Mythra (5:04)

Total time: 54:43

Line-up / Musicians

- Jana Arns / flute
- Liesbeth Lambrecht / violin
- Linde de Groof / violin
- Marjolein Cools / accordion
- Axelle Kennes / piano
- Stijn Denys / guitar
- Joris Vanvinckenroye / double bass

Releases information

self released

Thanks to avestin for the addition
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ARANIS II ratings distribution

(38 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(34%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(53%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

ARANIS II reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars In two years' time, not much has changed for this Antwerp sextet, beit musically-speaking, line-up-wise and even visually speaking, as the artwork on their second is almost the same as their first, if you'll except that the male figures of the cover artwork became females, which for progheads is an improvement ;-)). So their typically Belgian chamber prog remained much the same, even if the group sounds tighter and the compositions even more fluid than on their debut. The songwriting is still completely dominated by Vanvinckenroye

Again the album is completely instrumental, full of "classical" instruments, taking roots in folk, classical and sometimes even from pre-classical music, the end result shows a special type of music that can only be called rock by its attitude, progressive by its foundation and construction, avant-prog for its place into our beloved Archives, and Chamber prog for its close kinship to other Belgian groups ranging from Univers Zero, DAAU, Cro Magnon, Julverne or even Finnegans Wake. The moods range from the festive (Vala or Gona) to the dramatic, see the gloomy ambiance of Waris, where X-Legged Sally's Bart Maris makes a chilling appearance with his trumpet, to the fusion of Looking Glass. As said in other reviews, this writer is no fan of accordions, but Marjolein's is mostly used as an ambiance (sometimes close to a harmonium, rather than a lead instrument. Trog is the only title not from the group, and proposes an almost dissonant soundscape that changes a bit from the rest of the album

In conclusion, Aranis' second album is just as good as their debut, despite the absence of an epic track like Zilezi (that 15-mins corker from their debut), but here, their mastery of their musical subject has become an evidence.

Review by Kotro
4 stars Aranis Rock(s)

First off, let me begin by confessing that my knowledge of the so-called "Belgian chamber music scene" is non-existent. I've heard a few names being juggled here and there, but apart from Univers Zero there isn't much more I know from this genre. So, for me to be here reviewing an album from a musical scene without the slightest understanding of what it's all about, really is a stretch. But I will try to deliver plainly and honestly.

Alongside Swiss ensemble Les Reines Prochaines, ARANIS were by far the best new acquaintance I got from GAR2008. Like the "Reines", they appeared at first completely out of place in a rock festival, with their display of very unrockish instruments like accordion, violin, flute and cello, and not an amp in sight. But that's the beauty of prog - you don't always need electric guitars and drums to rock.

Aranis' energy is present from the first to the last track. Most songs follow a similar patern to the first song Kitano, with the violin and cello opening, the piano and acoustic guitar giving it a bit of rhythm, before the flute and the accordion become more prominent. There are, obviously, a few exceptions to this rule: the second track, Vala is mostly dominated by violin soloing with the remaining instruments in the background until the finale, when they all join forces to create a strong sonic atmosphere reminiscent of Carlos Gardel. Looking Glass reminds of a Manu Chao tune, especially the guitar playing, but that feeling is soon lost when the violin and accordion, followed by the piano and flute, enter. Another striking characteristic in the songs (although not on all song) is the apparent crescendo-like structure. The mood of the songs vary. Kitano, Looking Glass and Trog are vivid and energetic, almost funky. Gona, Walk in one's sleep (why not just call it Sleepwalking?) and Moja (featuring some lovely guitar and accordion interplay), are more of gloomy yet pulsating kind (some even remind me of a Hitchcock soundtrack). Others appear more delicate and ballad-like - good examples of this would be Vala and Waris (featuring the only break from the sextet's instrumentation, with the welcome introduction of a trumpet). On some songs you get all of these feelings on the same case, like on Turbulentie, Lovey-Dovey and Mythra. This last one is my favourite song in the entire album, beginning delicately, progressively (no pun intended) growing in intensity and featuring a dramatic yet exciting finale (for the song and album as a whole).

As I listened to this album and remember their concert, I could only regret not having purchased more of their albums when I had the chance. Short of handy cash, I had to pick this, in part because it featured most of the tracklist I had heard live. Plus, it had a naked lady on the cover, which is always a plus; and if you get to see them live, there will be several pretty and talented ones (alas, fully dressed) on stage.

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It is astonishing what Aranis can accomplish with what seems to be simple music and a lineup of seven musicians. They create music that can be as intense and as powerful as full-fledged rock with a lineup of classical instruments alone. Not only that, but their compositions are as intricate, complex and intriguing as any prog-rock music done by other bands.

One of my first reactions listening to Aranis' music was that their music sounds like the hybrid of Clint Mansell's soundtrack for Requiem For A Dream and Yann Tiersen's soundtrack for Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amelie Poulan. Indeed, this is a valid reference point if one cares to pinpoint the band's sound. A classical setup that plays music that is as intricate, powerful and poignant as rock (or prog-rock for that matter).

They play with their lovely and catchy tunes, combining the harmonious and melodic with slightly disharmonic tones; they are highly skilled musicians and their playing is not only striking and admirable, it also shows how they must have fun playing since it sounds so. well, playful.

Lovely, compelling and magical, their music captures me, the listener, and at the same time sets me free to wonder in their musical realm, with a guiding instrument, which changes between tracks and within a given track, whether it is the violin, accordion or flute.

Moving, daring and occasionally jovial it is a kind of music I can't seem to let by unnoticed. Take for instance the tune "Looking Glass" with its wonderful bass playing that sets the tone of the track, the violin and the flute which compete and complement each other, creating tension and resolving it thereafter; the piano then comes in with a lovely solo, introducing "air" into this dense piece; all of the instruments together reach a synergistic effect, such a powerful achievement that I am dumbfounded each time I hear it, bewitched by its beauty and its purity. A brilliant and simple composition that manages to capture the essence of this band in this sole tune and show their whole potential and capabilities. Not only are the tunes beautiful, but the arrangements, the part written for each instrument are such that the potential of each is fulfilled; everyone gets their deserved spotlight, their abilities and 'usefulness' reached. Listen to "Kitano" and how each instrument sits well with the others while playing their individual part, mingling perfectly with the others and being well heard over the entire 'mini-orchestra'.

The tracks on this album vary from the dynamic and fast ("Walk In One's Sleep") to the slower brand, more calm and relaxed, yet still as emotional and effective ("Waris"). Their compositions are as dynamic in their structure and intensity as the music is. Going from loud to quiet, from fast and furious to slow and delicate, they cover a wide range of emotions and moods.

Direct, precise and strict, their style can be upfront as in "Turbulentie"; but it is never devoid of emotion and certainly not of passion. Moreover it doesn't stay that way for the whole piece, as I mention above; the music shifts from climatic to peaceful, from exhilarating to sluggish and sensual. Aranis know very well how to intermingle all these opposing sentiments and atmospheres, make them into a coherent and naturally flowing whole. Nothing sounds forced to me, there is an innate vigor and drive in their music that makes me wish the music would never end. Whether it is in the uplifting segments such as the 'chorus' of "Trog", the gripping theme of "Looking Glass", the na´ve sounding yet elaborate "Lovey-Dovey" or the intensity at the opening of "Kitano" and the ending of "Mythra". There is always the want for more, the after-taste that begs for more; this is how music should be - compelling you, making you want more, having repeated listening, trying to quench the 'thirst'.

Playing rock with a classical lineup -this has been said about them (and other contemporaries and country mates such as DAAU). This is a true phrase, but for me it misses the emotional impact that Aranis achieves with their compositions. This album is following in the line of its predecessor and in my opinion is as brilliant if not more. It boils down to a matter of what are the melodies you prefer. Here, there is none that I dislike; each one is wonderful. I absolutely love this album (even more than their first one, but only because I love the tunes here more, no other reason than that). A personal favourite of mine, not just due to its beauty but for all the reasons mentioned above. A must! More than just an excellent addition to my collection.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Aranis is a group of young musicians from Flanders that create beautiful acoustic chamber rock. People familiar with Univers Zero will certainly hear echoes from that band, but the influence is indirect. Their most important influences are other Flemish chamber rock bands such as DAAU and Olla Vogola. On Aranis II, their second album, also the minimalist music of Philip Glass has become a very important part of the sound, especially the melodious music he composed for early 80s albums such as Glassworks and The Photographer.

After the very good debut Aranis sure confirms their qualities. They have concentrated on shorter pieces, a format that seems to suit them very well and makes for a balanced and varied album. In addition, the guitar gets a little more attention and there is a guest role for a bit of sax. The compositions are in any case superb and the inspired interplay of the group never ceases to amaze, being at the same time melodic, smooth, and expressive and powerful.

For me they remain a band that should be heard in a live setting, but if that is not possible than their studio albums will most definitely satisfy fans of chamber rock and harmonious RIO.

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