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Aranis - II CD (album) cover





3.87 | 36 ratings

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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.

Kotro | 4/5 |


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