Het is maar goed ook dat de nieuwste cd van AranisMade in Belgium II’ heet; dan is meteen duidelijk waar deze prachtige muziek vandaan komt. Op deel II gaat dit Gents sextet door op dezelfde muzikale voet als deel I, die uitkwam in 2012. De groep speelt composities van eigentijdse componisten in een hedendaags kamermuziek-folk concept waarbij geen elke kamer groot genoeg is. Aranis verslaat elke stijl, breekt elk muzikaal dogma en maakt rigoureus korte metten met muzikale vooroordelen. Deze groep is volledig zichzelf. Treffende thema’s worden voorzien van schurende en stuwende ritmiek die de muziek een enorme boost geeft met repeterende en dwingende ritmes. Gespeeld zonder drums en zonder percussie maar verdeeld over diverse instrumenten: contrabas, gitaar, accordeon, viool, piano en fluit. Treffende hema’s tuimelen modulerend door verschillende toonsoorten. Aranis speelt instrumentale muziek, al wordt er in twee nummers fonetisch gezongen en in ‘Tolles Pferd’ klinkt zelfs een Duitse tekst met rollend galopperend piano-intro. Heel even lijkt Kurt Weill een kijkje te nemen in de keuken van Aranis. De stukken zijn geschreven door zo’n tien componisten waaronder een compositie van Ananta Roosens (La Sieste du Dromadaire), accordeoniste Aurelia Dorzeé (Aurelia) en twee stukken van Joris Vanvinckenrooije, de bassist van de groep. Aranis bewijst met ‘Made in Belgium II‘ dat ze nog veel te vertellen heeft en de muzikale porseleinkast weer aan diggelen speelt. Klasse! *****

***** 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? No!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.- Joost The Dunno

Second installment of a said trilogy by exquisite Belgian band who have quite the adventurous history already. With releases showing original material of their own exploring light and dark chamber music, to turn on a dime RIO fit for a king, these ultra-superior musicians took on a voyage of covers by well-deserved (not always famous) fellow Belgian composers and here we are on Volume II. Another supreme platter this time bringing in not only new rules but also unequal artists like Peter Vermeersch (as a composer choice) and Pierre Vervloesem on guitar (tracks 10 and 12) both of X-Legged Sally and Flat Earth Society.

With a supreme beginning the initial cover is by Peter Vermeersch which knocks your socks off, all turn-on-a dime, dramatic, full-tilt, with dizzy changes and a pocketful of fantastic! The entire disc takes you on a grand ride with nary a second of void. Each composition is killer. Icing on the cake is track 10 (by composer Walter Hus – who was on recording Maximalist!) with the unbridled unequaled Pierre Vervloesem. Following that the third “Intermezzo” (Chevalier) then another tremendous song (“Cell “ by Kurt Bude) with Vervloesem on guitar. A slow burner with epic proportions. Last cut is gorgeous (by one of the female composers - Aurelle Dorzee from “Aurella”). What a beautiful dreamy way to end this eargasmic and pleasantly exhausting (mentally) set of works once again, exclusively from Belgium.

Part two of this “Made In Belgium” series has another couple of new things. The addition of female composers (V and XIII) plus solo piano intermezzos (by Pierre Chevalier). Everything is even more perfect than their first CD. This easily makes my best 2014 list, hands down. Amazing and most highly recommended

Reviewed by Lee Henderson on November 17th, 2014

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Copyright 2017 - Maarten Lambrecht