Made in Belgium
(2012 - Home Records - Belgium)
The fifth recording by chameleon progressive music Aranis is a lively tight as a tick presentation of cover tunes by various (chamber rock/ classical/ avant/ experimental) Belgian composers. The compositions are by Joris Vanvinckenroye, Daniel Denis, Roger Trigaux, Wim Mertens, Wouter Vandenabeele, Ward De Vleeschhouwer, Arne Van Dongen, Luc De Gezelle and Geert Waegeman. I have to say that if someone was totally unfamiliar with these composers, and did a blind listening test with ‘Made in Belgium’, they could easily be fooled into thinking this was a new release of Aranis’s own music. Obviously the band playing all the tunes sounds familiar but this all fits like a warm well worn glove. Happily so. I own original recordings by a majority of the eleven composers so I can compare some of the covers to those in sound and execution. The Wim Mertens tracks (two of them given space here) were similar but not exact in overall sound but this is what logic would expect. There are no extreme parting of any cover, in fact the reverence seems admirable and so well done, you’d be happy to just think this was still Aranis’ music.
The variation in styles do show through. Wim Mertens “Gentlemen of Leisure” (track 4) was done on touch guitar (guest Trey Gunn), and done to perfection. Never thought I’d hear Mertens done on that instrument. The ‘Where is Grommit’ (track 5) by Arne Van Dongen has a fluffy almost early music sound. Geert Waegeman’s ‘Le Mar ’teau’ (track 6) is more modern classical but also has a part reminding me of Phil Glass and Univers Zero. ‘Short Story’ (track 7) by Luc De Gezelle is under two minutes so hardly gets going for my taste. I wanted more. Joris Vaninckenroye’s ‘L1' (track 8) is a great chamber display that also reminded me of the area of Univers Zero. Things change moist with Daniel Denis’s ‘Bulgarian Flying Spirit Dances 2' (track 10) as it brings the said styles into the spotlight. Another relatively different tune of Roger Trigaux’s ‘Ersatz’ (track 12) and it’s features of Jana Arns on flute and voice. (the only track to have voice). The other players on this disc are Joris Vanvinckenroye: Double bass, Liesbeth Lambrecht: Violin, Marjolein Cools: Accordion, Stijn Denys: Guitar - acoustic, Trey Gunn: touch guitar and Ward De Vleeschhouwer: Piano.
Aranis show us once again just how versatile a group they are. I begin to think they can do anything at all and do it extremely well. I’m just wondering what they will try next. Whatever it is, I will be waiting and ready to listen. Great music by a great band! Recommended.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson - July 15, 2013