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Dave Lynch- allmusic.com nov.'10

Maybe bassist/composer Joris Vanvinckenroye and his Flemish "chamber rock" ensemble Aranis were afraid of being labeled "new age" after three ethereal, mysterious female voices were prominent on the group's previous CD, Songs from Mirage. Well, search in vain for a new age flavor on Aranis' fourth long-player and 2010 AltrOck label debut, RoqueForte -- gone are Mirage's vocalists, and the band's revised lineup includes violist Stefan Wellens replacing violinist Linde de Groof (violinist Liesbeth Lambrecht is still here), and Univers Zero/Present keyboardist Pierre Chevalier replacing pianist Axelle Kennes. Also on board is drummer Dave Kerman, whose particular presence might reasonably be expected to shatter Aranis' heretofore signature drummerless acoustic sound, in which incisive riffs and melodies with a Euro-classical and sometimes folkish flavor are played on strings, flute, accordion, and piano, all driven by the powerfully deep and rhythmic upright bass of Vanvinckenroye. After all, Kerman has been prominently featured in some of the most complicated and arguably "difficult" electrified rock music on record by the likes of 5uu's, Thinking Plague, and the aforementioned Present. On RoqueForte he proves to be an adept team player, attuned to the music's overall chamberesque -- and at times nearly orchestral -- feel. The centerpiece photo in the CD booklet is telling: it shows the drummer's hand poised above a cymbal, but delicately holding a pair of chopsticks rather than drumsticks. Not that his approach is that delicate: Kerman certainly punches up the accents and drive of the album's bookend tracks, the opening multi-sectioned "Roque" with its clipped, spiky phrasing and keyboard jabs, and the brief closing "Forte" (which, incidentally, includes a rather gimmicky minute and a half of silence leading into the final minute-long high-energy burst of "PS"). Elsewhere, Kerman's percussion is used quite judiciously in service to Vanvinckenroye's darkest, most complex, and most Univers Zero-ish compositions to date, with the drums and cymbals mixed low, never masking Jana Arns' flute as it dances around the long, sometimes rather mournful violin/viola lines.

Maybe bassist/composer Joris Vanvinckenroye and his Flemish "chamber rock" ensemble Aranis were afraid of being labeled "new age" after three ethereal, mysterious female voices were prominent on the group's previous CD, Songs from Mirage. Well, search in vain for a new age flavor on Aranis' fourth long-player and 2010 AltrOck label debut, RoqueForte -- gone are Mirage's vocalists, and the band's revised lineup includes violist Stefan Wellens replacing violinist Linde de Groof (violinist Liesbeth Lambrecht is still here), and Univers Zero/Present keyboardist Pierre Chevalier replacing pianist Axelle Kennes. Also on board is drummer Dave Kerman, whose particular presence might reasonably be expected to shatter Aranis' heretofore signature drummerless acoustic sound, in which incisive riffs and melodies with a Euro-classical and sometimes folkish flavor are played on strings, flute, accordion, and piano, all driven by the powerfully deep and rhythmic upright bass of Vanvinckenroye. After all, Kerman has been prominently featured in some of the most complicated and arguably "difficult" electrified rock music on record by the likes of 5uu's, Thinking Plague, and the aforementioned Present. On RoqueForte he proves to be an adept team player, attuned to the music's overall chamberesque -- and at times nearly orchestral -- feel. The centerpiece photo in the CD booklet is telling: it shows the drummer's hand poised above a cymbal, but delicately holding a pair of chopsticks rather than drumsticks. Not that his approach is that delicate: Kerman certainly punches up the accents and drive of the album's bookend tracks, the opening multi-sectioned "Roque" with its clipped, spiky phrasing and keyboard jabs, and the brief closing "Forte" (which, incidentally, includes a rather gimmicky minute and a half of silence leading into the final minute-long high-energy burst of "PS"). Elsewhere, Kerman's percussion is used quite judiciously in service to Vanvinckenroye's darkest, most complex, and most Univers Zero-ish compositions to date, with the drums and cymbals mixed low, never masking Jana Arns' flute as it dances around the long, sometimes rather mournful violin/viola lines.

In fact, Kerman contributes little or lays out completely for long passages, sometimes almost perversely absent from the music's most uptempo, insistently rhythmic passages, which increases the drama when he does appear. For example, drums do not enter fully until the latter halves of the extended-form centerpieces "Noise" and "Naise": in the former, Kerman tumbles out a methodical rhythm somewhat lacking in vitality until the tension begins to escalate and he fully joins the ensemble's truly spectacular ascending chordal buildup at the finale; in marked contrast, he offers up a nearly ska-flavored uptempo backbeat in the final minutes of the latter. On the speedy "Tissim," driven inexorably by Chevalier's rapid keyboard ostinato line, he remains low in the mix for most of the piece's duration, rising to the fore close to the end when the piece takes on a more martial character. Overall, this is the most varied Aranis music to date, with interludes of experimentation or dark stasis underpinned by Marjolein Cools' low droning accordion, not unlike the harmonium in Univers Zero's Heresie, counterbalancing the group's signature propulsion. Ultimately, although the aforementioned photo suggests that somebody thought Kerman's presence here was a really big deal and the drummer acquits himself well, he is not the singular reason that RoqueForte is arguably Aranis' finest recording thus far. Chalk that up to the entire group's playing and the uniquely beautiful and powerful compositions of Joris Vanvinckenroye, who continues to lead this stellar ensemble in new and increasingly unpredictable directions.

 

 

Eelco Schilder (folkworld.eu) about 'RoqueForte'

Aranis is one of the most remarkable groups from Belgium at this moment. From their first album on, their music has a unique style and a very own identity.

The group brings eleven new compositions all composed by bass player Joris Vanvinckenroye, to my opinion one of the most interesting Belgian composers and musicians in many years. With flutes, violin, viola, accordion, piano, guitar and a newly added drummer, Roqueforte turns out to be a quit serious listening experience. From complex heavy classical theme's to soundtrack of a film noir. From theatrical, almost bombastic music to fragile and small melodies. From fragments of tango to pieces of a desolate circus orchestra. Impossible to describe this music that creates images, creates complete landscapes. Aranis turns my world upside down, not an album that is suitable for each moment of the day, this album needs time, a peaceful living room and a bit dark, windy and rainy autumn Sunday evening.

This is modern Belgium acoustic music at it's best.

Von: Achim Breiling @ http://www.babyblaue-seiten.de

Mit rein akustischen Instrumenten - vornehmlich Violine und Bratsche, Kontrabass, Klavier, Akkordeon, Gitarre und Querflöte, dezent unterstützt von Dave Kerman am Schlagzeug, musiziert das belgische Septett auf seinem vierten Album. Trotzdem rockt das Ganze gelegentlich ziemlich, gibt es diverse ziemlich heftige, fast wüste Ausbrüche. Einen sehr farbigen, durch die Streicher und das Akkordeon flächig verwobenen, akustischen Kammerrock spielen die Belgier hier der vornehmlich von dem rhythmisch rockenden Piano-Bass-Duo vorangetrieben wird. Das Ergebnis ist ein sehr dichtes und spannendes Klanggefüge, in dem sich selten eines der Instrumente solistisch in den Vordergrund spielt und die klangliche Dominanz ständig wechselt, von den Violinen zum Akkordeon, vom Akkordeon zur Flöte, von der Flöte zur Gitarre, von der Gitarre zum Piano. Sehr abwechslungsreich ist diese Musik, ausgesprochen klangvoll und stellenweise beeindruckend intensiv.

Der obige Text kommt euch bekannt vor? Nun, er stammt - leicht modifiziert - aus meiner Rezension zum Debüt der belgischen Kammerrocker (siehe "Aranis"). Da habe ich mich von der Band inspirieren lassen. Denn auch Aranis bieten auf "RoqueForte" im Grunde das Gleiche wie auf ihrem Erstling - leicht modifiziert. Oder, am ehesten gleicht dieses vierte Album der Belgier ihrem zweiten, denn hier wie dort wird nicht gesungen. Die Instrumentierung ist fast dieselbe, wenn auch auf "RoqueForte" Violine und Viola zu hören sind und auf "Aranis II" es zwei Violinen waren. So besetzt rocken sich die sieben Belgier auf bekannt schwungvolle, sehr virtuose und abwechslungsreiche Art und Weise durch das Album.

Und dann gibt es noch die feinen Modifikationen, die dafür sorgen, dass es eben doch kleine, aber durchaus signifikante Unterschiede gibt. Hier ist das vor allem - neben einigen kurzen, recht freiformatigen Einlagen - Dave Kerman an Schlagzeug und Perkussion. Sonderlich verausgaben hat er sich nicht müssen für dieses Engagement. Zurückhaltend und dezent, ohne das Kammerensemble zuzukloppen, ist er zu Gange, verleiht der Musik nur eine perkussive Note, die aber bewirkt, dass sich die Musik von Aranis hier dem Vorbild Univers Zero deutlich annähert. Diese zischenden Geräusche nach etwas mehr als drei Minuten in "Roque" wurden übrigens - wie ich kürzlich auf einem Konzert der Band sehen konnte - mit zwei Spraydosen erzeugt (hoffentlich FCKW-frei), die Kerman im Rhythmus betätigt. Ideen muss man haben!

Zusammenfassend kann ich mal wieder eine Variation dessen anbringen, was ich in letzter Zeit schon des Öfteren über Neuerscheinungen aus dem Avantprog- und Kammerrockgenre geschrieben habe. "RoqueForte" bietet sowohl für das Genre als auch bezogen auf das Repertoire der Band nichts wirklich Neues, ist allerdings so gut gemacht, so perfekt musiziert und so druck- und schwungvoll vorgetragen, dass man sich daran eigentlich nicht wirklich stören kann. Und so ein bisschen anders als auf den ersten drei Alben klingt die Musik ja schon. Wer Aranis noch nicht kennt, für den wäre "RoqueForte" kein schlechter Einstieg in die Klangwelt der Belgier. Fans können natürlich auch ohne Bedenken zugreifen.

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