Press


"Over the past few years, so-called "chamber rock" has become one of my favorite little subgenres of prog. Groups like Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, Present, and so on (interestingly, all Belgian bands) have continually wowed me with their detailed arrangements and their ability to write fundamentally rock music using instruments usually associated more with Western classical music. Interestingly, I find these bands compelling because of their darkness and intensity as much as anything else; yet in Aranis, we have a chamber-rock group (again hailing from Belgium) that has less of an emphasis on rock, and lacks the ferocity of any of the aforementioned groups — yet I find them just as fascinating nevertheless. Aranis' lineup consists entirely of acoustic instruments and does not include a drummer, so right off the bat you know this stuff isn't going to rock in the conventional sense. Instead, what we get is a kind of chamber music that uses lots of ideas about counterpoint and harmony from Western classical music, but is highly rhythmic, often in unusual meters, and features the occasional solo (though whether these are composed or improvised is impossible to tell). Composer Joris Vanvinckenroye has some real talent; the melodies throughout this album are consistently memorable, and the arrangements are beautifully done. Easily the highlight of the album for me is "Looking Glass," which features a couple of fantastically intricate sections wherein one violinist begins with a repetitive motive, on top of which piccolo joins with a countermelody, then piano with another melody, then a second violin joins with a distinctive spiraling motif, then acoustic guitar begins strumming urgently, then everything drops out for a gorgeous solo piano melody. Of course, all this is done in some crazy time signature or combination of time signatures. Wouldn't want to make this stuff too easy to play, right? Other highlights include "Vala," "Moja," and "Waris," the latter of which includes a beautiful guest appearance on trumpet that adds a welcome variation to the group's instrumentation. All of these songs are highlights thanks to catchy melodies and deft orchestration — the musical language in use is advanced in terms of harmony and counterpoint, and the melodies seem to borrow a lot from folk music. The combination works fabulously. I have heard complaints that the group's music can be a little too formal and stiff, and while there doesn't appear to be much room for wild improvisation, I find the septet's tightness a selling point rather than a weakness. The only track I find a little awkward is "Trog," which incidentally is the only piece not composed by Vanvinckenroye. I would love to see Aranis pull this stuff off live. Some of this material is pretty fiendishly intricate, but never at the expense of accessible melody. There's something in here for everyone; Aranis are far more approachable for the timid than the avant-rock groups I name-dropped at the beginning of this review. There really must be something in the water in Belgium." Ground and Sky (25/12/2007) www.progreviews.com


"Privately released as a numbered 300 copy edition and bound to be gone in a flash! I know we have been there before but forget all I have said or claimed in the past. I guess I was bordering on the cliffs of insanity and said stupid stuff like this xxx-called CDR group is bound to become the best release of the year. Forget it, sanity is back in the house and I take all back and throw all that CDR rubbish straight out of the window, together with the big egos and little talent attached to it. Now that we have all that cleared up, it is time to get serious and root our feet back into the muddy ground. Get in touch with reality again. And while I was rummaging my feet in that solid but moist earth again, I got blindsided by this awesome new Belgian band called Aranis. To describe their uniquely Belgian sound in a few strokes, the best comparison I can possibly come up with is that they sound like a cross pollination between Wim Merten's “Belly of an Architect” era mood swings and Univers Zero's “Ceux Du Dehors” intermingled with “Heresie” and “Crawling Wind”. The style of Aranis is at the same time bold and avantgarde, situated on a strange border between psychedelic Rock and the darkest areas of Classical Music. Their self entitled first LP is a magnificent testament of their surprising but highly unique style. While you won't find a lot of traditional rock instruments, these guys create their music out of a dynamic blend of jazz, classical and rock music that takes a while to fully permeate the listener's mind, but when it does, it's a real winner. The group's chamber music instrumentation (violin, accordion, piano, guitar, flute & double bass), together with Joris Vanvinckenroye's intricate writing and the very tight ensemble work, is enough to deliver the signature their sound. They are a group which has transferred music from medieval times to our modern age, and also one of few bands who can still amaze with their initial effort out of nowhere. The more you know about modern “classical” music, the more you will appreciate Aranis' references to Stravinsky, the French Impressionists, and the twelve-tonal or atonal music which dominated much of the twentieth century. Their rhythms, drumming, use of electric guitar and short pieces are definitely rock oriented, but they add in instruments characteristic of classical music. This is what Aranis as a truly Belgian group can do: they can wrap the millennia of their grim history in the millennia of their musical heritage. It is not something that easily crosses the Atlantic to the land of refuge. Yet there is nothing like it here, and listening to Aranis is a glimpse of something very special, out beyond your familiar shores. This may be the best band you never heard. Totally fucking brilliant and up there running as one of the best if not THE best release of this unholy year 2007!!! Limited and numbered release, only 300 copies made and bound to become an instant classic." http://www.tiliqua-records.com/ (25/12/2007)

Aranis- New CD
...The group on this album pretty much sounds like they sound live : well rehearsed, professional, energetic and passionate. Compared to the previous release I think the group also improved by showing a more consistent strength... http://progressive.homestead.com/belgium2.html

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