Similar fun was another Antwerp (/Ghent ?) band,  Think of Fanfare, an of-shoot of Think Of One ( They were great fun once warmed up to full heat. They had great musicians, including a Moroccan percussionist. Think of One had a few releases. I don't think Think of Fanfare ever made an album. Think of One continued to work with Moroccan & Brazilian musicians. They travelled to Morocco which led to their 'Marrakech Emballages' re
"CHAMBER MUSIC ROCK" -the Belgian form of R.I.O.-
and some crossovers from here
page 1

Univers Zero ('77+'79/'08,'79/'10,'84,'86/'10,'04,'06,'10)
Troisseur ('04)
DAAU ('04,'06,'10)
Present ('05,'09,'81/'14)
Cro Magnon ('92,'97,'03-'04)
Fukkeduk ('94)
Aranis ('05,'05,'07,'09,13)
Pierre Vervloesem ('05)

crossover / mix with chamber music / rock :
Boenox ('03)
The Wrong Object ('08,'13)
Machine Mass Trio ('11) (on different page)
Funk Sinatra ('07/'08) (added on previous page)

grading : * ok ** g  ***vg ****perf *****no better example than this: must-have heard
with additional ° some tracks better  ; with ' possibly better for some (viewpoints)

Cuneiform Rec.    Univers Zero : Implosion (B,2004)***

Before starting to review this new release, I must repeat for those who are still not familiar with Univers Zero, a small introduction.
It’s really odd to know that Belgian groups like Univers Zero, Present, Cro Magnon and others within the same genre hardly get any attention, if any in Belgium, especially not in the Flemish part, where music interests from official sites only list entertainment music, post-rock, classic rock or things like that, and the ministry of economy -and not education or culture- has the control over media interests. Even most musicians don’t know the importance of this group, who in fact formed a standard for the Rock In Opposition styles, which like all spontaneously and independently developed groups in Belgium, is always more with the feeling of being an independent urban chamber music rock group. Their first album in 1977 was years ahead of its time, and combined ideas from Bartok with a rock band approach. Often their sound was pretty dark, but albums like ‘1313’, ‘Heatwave Zero’, ‘Ceux Du Dehors’ and perhaps ‘Uzed’ are recognized all over the world as being classics in the genre. ‘Heresie’ is their most dark work to date.

This new work might be their most accessible to date. The dark elements are somewhat taken out or sound lighter, subtly modernized, like with tiny passages of experimental electro-acoustic ideas. There are added some brass arrangements here and there. In general the group is no longer strictly limiting itself within the area they created, but opening it up, perhaps with a bit more easy sounding ideas, or at least relaxed compositions. Here and there the direction is just new music, with “Méandres” as my favourite track in this style. ("La Mort de Sophocle" sound a bit like Art Zoyd's filmmusic).

Audio "Out Of Space"
Web page at and
(with soundfiles) at
Picture of Univers Zero.(from Heresie) Picture of Trigaux.
Other reviews :
Reviews of other albums :

My grading on older albums :

                   Cuneiform Records Univers Zero : 1313 (1977)*****
-review of 2008 reissue see below->
Cuneiform Records Univers Zero : Ceux du Dehors(1981)****°
Cuneiform Records Univers Zero : Heatwave (1986)****°
Cuneiform Records Univers Zero : Uzed (1988)****°
Cuneiform Records Univers Zero : The Hard Quest (1999)***

next album ->

Cuneiform Rec.Univers Zero : Live (B,2006)****

This is the first official live recording of the group, professionally recorded (wonderful sound !) from a concert in Brussels, Belgium and one in France in 2005. Here as a six-piece group (Daniel Denis-drums, Michael Berckmans-bassoon, English horn and oboe, Martin Lauwers-violin, Peter Van Den Berghe-piano and keyboards, Kurt Budé-clarinet and saxophone and Eric Plantain-bass) the compositions keeps their foundation in contemporary classical music worked out for a chamber music rock band, and the band sounds greater and closer to their fundaments than they did on their last few releases. The band has their recognisable and controlled sound. Just “Failing Rain Dance” like on a jazz concert, this track suddenly has some drum improvisation, followed by funky bass with violin.

This is an essential introduction to the band.

Audio : "Bonjour chez vous" &
Homepage :
Other review :
German review :
Italian review :  

Next reissue (of first album) further down below->
Cuneiform Rec.    Univers Zero (=1313 revisited) (B,1977+1979,re.2008)****°

The liner notes of this reissue reveal well how the story from Arkham (B) over Magma(F) (Daniel Denis and Jean-Luc Manerlier had joined Magma for some time) hung together and had influence the band to explore further possibilities breaking Canterbury rock and Magma associations (with some free-jazz influences on its way). After a short time operating as Necronomicon (B) (inspired by H.P.Lovecraft’s book, but not to be confused with the German band) with John Van Rymenant (Waterloo-B) and organist Vincent Mottoulle (Lagger Blues Machine-B) they switched to the name Univers Zero (inspired by Jacques Sterberg’s book), besides a few side-projects (Denis joined Supersister (NL) just before they recorded “iskander” ; later Elton Deanwould join them, at the time they shared a concert on stage with UZ’s first appearance ; besides there was also split-group Exil, who developed compositions that would later turn up again with the later Present) with a few small line-up changes before the first album. While their first examples remained something like a split-off from Canterbury and Magma, taking some elements of Third Ear Band (but using bassoon instead of oboe), they invented new combinations of inspirations which what they considered as a more European tradition, some modern classical composers (Bartok, Ives, Berg, Stravinsky, Penderecki, as well as the Belgian Huybrechts). The basic ideas were complex, but were stretched through improvisation, they soon found out they weren’t too far away from what Art Zoyd (F) was developing on their own, just over the border, not too far from where they lived. When their first privately recorded and pressed album was published, it was soon going to be reissued by the fresh Atem label, which was established within Art Zoyd’s entourage.

When you hear Univers Zero’s album and realize it was from 1977, it surely was ahead of its time. In fact, much more than the more operatic-surreal rock experience of Magma, a whole new genre of chamber-music rock was predated and visualised for the first time at this point.  Of course, the compositions can be compared very much to contemporary classical music, or classical music, in a rock form, with strong contrasts, for using ‘rock band’ elements with it like drums, used with classical perfection, (and some guitars), mixed with perfectly omitted and perfectly balanced in sound perspective choices of chamber music instruments (string instruments, bassoon, spinet), and with calmer, well arranged and also more complex sections.

This is already Cuneiform’s second edition of the album. As a bonus track it features a live composition, “La Faux” recorded by Belgian national television (BRT) in 1979, predating the studio composition from their second album, “Heresie”.
This piece starts with a very dark, chaotically brooding cloud of sounds, before, after almost 5 minutes, is made the appearance of what sounds like a reverb language spoken word, a bit like a Satanic mass narration, with oscillating violin, and dark organ, without too much happening in it’s stretched darkness in this hell, evoking, with shouts, something or some things of which I have no idea what these strange spirits are after. More Church organ and violin makes the music sounds at this stage as something like a post-funeral mass and music for the living dead. This becomes a bit more rhythmical, with animalistic nature, a bit more like an insinuating ritual, an improvised theatrical description before turning into their more typical chamber-like rhythmically brooding new music composition, still filmic to a degree, as if the appearing beast closes its eyes a bit with some left over looming attention to its surroundings. This second part improvised with some cleverness and also freedom in its strange melodic harmonies, brooding and vibrant, and a vaguely terrifying, (guitar, drums, violin), on the edge of avant-garde of inspiration with its chamber music fundaments. An interesting version which gives an idea of Univers Zero’s live performances. It was recorded thanks to Wim Mertens's support, but i cannot imagine if it ever was broadcast afterwards.

Audio : "La Faux" (1979)
Homepage info :
Label info : &
Other review (with audio track)  :
Reviews of first version :
& on & on
Other review :
German review :
Univers Zero articles :
--next album->
The 70's band Arkham is reviewed at the Canterbury style review page ->

Cuneiform Rec. Present : A great Inhumane adventure (B,2005)**°

Present was founded by Roger Trigaux of Univers Zero in 1979 adding more hard edged rock to the semi-classical compositions. Like Univers Zero they never succeeded in getting public recognition in Belgium, not even now, but in the US and Japan both bands are recognised as important, also in terms of a musical historical perspective. For me, "n°6" from 1999, still is my favourite recording by them (graded at that time as 4+1stars or 5 stars). A bit before this, after Present's fifth album "Certitudes", the band was invited into the USA for a huge, full booked US tour with 5 weeks of concerts. On the final date of the tour the band was invited to a studio to record another performance. It was with Roger & Reginald Trigaux on guitars and vocals, Pierre Chevalier on piano, Jean-Pierre Mendez on bass and Dave Kerman on drums, with Keith Macksoud as guest bassist on the last track.

I had to play the recording a few times on a few different occasions because of the density of the music and the somewhat loaded sound and compositions and the almost overloading bass on my equipment when listening with normal sequenced settings, before being able to listen with complete attention to the release for review purposes. Also I had to get used at first hearing to the occasional more “normal” coloured voice on the first tracks against the more intense band performance. With all sequences set perfect and listening under best circumstances, I had a more prepared experience.

The recording is a live recording of a well rehearsed band. A certain loaded darkness in the composition and performance remains present. The compositions on its own sound like classical music into rock. Although played just perfect the band seems often to be a bit slightly "tired" in sound too ; perhaps there's much more bass than high notes which might cause this slightly exhausting effect. "Le Poison Qui Rend Fou", "Laundrey Blues" and the closer "Promenade au Fond d'un Canal" (with more piano) are the more outstanding tracks of an overall good album.

Audio : "Delusions".
Homepage (with audio of earlier albums) :
Info :
Other reviews :
Dutch review :
German review :   next album->

Ad Hoc Rec. Present : Barbaro (ma non troppo) -CD+DVD-(B,2009)***°'

Finally a new album of Present, together with an almost 3 hour long DVD. From the three new compositions on CD the last track, “Jack The Ripper” I loved the most, but it was especially in the version of the live tracks, on DVD that I loved them the most. On the studio albums you start to hear how the compositions come from composer’s mind who creates its evolutions, while on the band’s compositions also the energy of the band gets involved and takes them just a little bit further, like a jazzrock band dealing also with its Rock In Opposition references or its new classical nature. Especially the long “Promenade au fond du canal” was most expressive, with a few filmic horror fantasy evoking video images (a camera slowly moving on a staircase for instance, mixed in somewhere). In general, no unnecessary tricks were used for the camera positions or images ; everything is mixed in perfectly. The aggression building up in this last, long track and its visual surprise on stage (a worker coming in banging on iron, a rhythm with his tool, and especially Roger going berserk on his instruments) makes this longest track more impressive (I am only afraid that Roger Trigaux will no longer be able to use his guitar after that track..). A bit different in nature were the two tracks for two pianos and percussion, showing especially its classical fundament, or a “new music/rock” alternative to classical music.

Present surely grew in strength and accessibility by showing this own area mix of new classical with heavy abilities, especially live. These live tracks from 2007 perhaps show the band at their best, and also the filmic quality on the DVD is the best. After three more tracks from 2006 there are a few archival videos, of a bit more underground nature, showing also more guitar dual leads compared to the more recent compositions.

Videos here and here
Album details on
Label info on
next release->

A few more links :
Belgian bands list :
Belgian music :
with reviews

Cuneiform Rec.Present : Triskaidékaphobie (B,1980,1981,re.2014)****°

Immediately from the start, on this album Present showed a new style of music, which is composed rock music with a combination of repetitive and hypnotic patterns, based upon complex rhythms and with improvisational fantasies woven around these rhythmical progressions. In this expanded version this debut album added the live tracks from the next year, which pretty much makes it more complete even though the album showed already the essence of what was Present worth in it’s original LP edition.
The first track shows a classical workout out, but also a rock flow of energy. The direction is comparable to Magma, even in the title. Electric guitar but also a bit of piano provides the solos. The second track is more led by the piano. Here it is a combination of piano and electric piano, weaving fantasies around the rhythmic progressions, with quieter moments and with faster rhythms elsewhere. The third track is like an outro of the composed part, staying longer into the resonance of one note, combined with a play with guitar resonance and with gong-like percussion, adding some bass power further on and not much more.
The bonus live tracks have more electric guitar, which is freaking and flipping out, in a hypnotic way. On the last part the piano still leads certain parts in the track. Essential stuff.

Info: &
Label info:
Other reviews:
Dutch review:

Carbon 7  Pierre Vervloesem : Rude (B,2005)****'

I heard expressions of enthusiasm in the avant-prog newsletter, about the new Pierre Vervloesem album, so I decided I wanted to check this out, and I did not regret it.

Pierre Vervloessem, electric guitar and sounds, here recorded and played with Peter Vandenberghe on keyboards, Nicolas Dechêne on bass and Renaud Van Hooland on drums.

Disquet” immediately sets the tone with intelligent heavy, progressive, rock.
On “Titanic again” the bass sounds like big digging machine with a frightening stormy weather tension, with post-King Crimson electric guitars and over the top drums.
n’roll” has a composition based upon surfing rock’n roll with a changed and heavy tension, varying from one theme and rhythm to another.
Experimental Dentition” starts, like the second track, with a kind of terrifying giant rock onslaught, but then is mixed and evolving with various calmer and human elements. The bass calmly walks as if in dub mode. A whole world of spheres passes the eye/ear.
“Born to be white” is more aggressive rock with great electric guitar, but contradictory again, with calm rhythms and bass, and some compositional variations. Also “Greener” like all following tracks has lots of intelligent compositional variation.
My Flemish period” is, like “’n roll”, an avant-garde compact resume and deduction of different music genres, mixed and remixed to a heavy and modern, new Rock In Opposition composition.
Tubular Belge” has glockenspiel-like sounds with brass, heavy bass, electric guitars, drums, and is once more a varied composition with different rhythmic leads into one composition. Also “Emil Zola’s Jacuzzi” has also more than one melodic, mostly heavy, world, moulded into one composition. The same intelligence can be found on “Canadair”, led by guitar and with heavy drumming.
Other surprises are for instance some small hypnotic repetition part on “Rue Wéry”, a strange vocal part on “Add God to your misery”, and a jazzy keyboard part, and strange new electronic rhythmic elements on “Pee Detector” and a kind of metal bass influence on the last track “St.Guidon”.

This, almost 70 minutes long album, is a brilliant, and can be considered as classic, release of overall intelligent compositional heavy rock, with convincing variation and strength. Compositionally I think it’s also an improvement to the X Legged Sally sound. It’s a must-have for RIO fans. Those who liked Present’s n°6 will surely dig this as well.

Pierre Vervloessem played before with urban group X-Legged Sally, with Flat Earth Society, and the A Group, and also worked more often with Peter Vermeersch as well as producing two Deus albums.

Audio : "Titanic Again"
Fan's homepage :
with this release :
Label entry :
Dutch article with intro :
& review :
Info on Vervloesem :,,505670,00.html
German review :
German interview :
Dutch interview :

privateCro Magnon & (Bub) : Brosella Suite (B,rec.2003;2004)***

For this project, several Flemish folk musicians were invited to participate. “Brosella” refers to Brussels, and is also a fine 2 days free festival in a beautiful park-podium location near the Atomium-monument in Brussels, with one day Jazz and one day folk performances. The specific track titles refer to several places and facts, mostly only known to people who are living in Brussels. The release seems to have received support from the Ministry of the Flemish Community. Inside Belgium/Flanders however there wasn’t the deserved attention.
The style, compared to the earlier releases, is a mature, and for the most tracks, a relaxed piece, which holds the middle between composed urban chamber music, with folk elements included this time too, especially how Flemish folkmusic at his best generally is consumed, slightly entertaining and rhythmic but also varied, (herefore Bub, a folk-band is responsible), and a somewhat documentary-like character in(to) the composition.
6 of 10 songs are by Geert Waegeman, who leads the urban chamber music style composition. Kim Delcour is another leading member for this project-group, who plays bagpipes and flutes. He has his share in the composition and performance, and composed three separate pieces as well, from which “Fanfare de l’abattoire” is my favourite, for it’s humour, mix etc.. The violinist Rik Verstrepen composed one other piece. Also “Noordstation” after “Fanfare..” is mixed with optimal dynamism.
“Bagarre Centrale” after that uses jazz, folk and urban chamber music in an instrumental rock mix, as a perfect dynamic closer.
The combination of folk with chamber music was a serious and successful attempt to create a kind of new ethno-folk with international character. It was especially composed for the Brosella Festival, and for the small tour that came after that.

Cro Magnon currently has a new piece ready for recording. They will look for a label outside Belgium (a fine label like Cuneiform Records would be perfect for it) for its release next year.

Contact Cro Magnon : Geert Waegeman :
English intro for Cro Magnon :
Live pictures of Brosella suite :
with Dutch article :
Dutch review of CD :
More background info on Greet Waegeman (in Dutch) :

A review of their first 2 releases->
Carbon 7   Cro Magnon : Zapp! (B,1992)***°'

This was a fantastic debut of dynamic « urban chamber music », like they described it themselves. The combination of chamber orchestra with alto/soprano but especially baritone sax and electric bass gives a contrasting sound. The music has parts of minimalist music but is much more varied than that ("Cleo"; "Kongo!"). A track like “Tears for Fears” has something of industrial rock with chamber music in it and reminds me of industrial chamber music from groups like Tuxedomoon (just remember their works like “Desire”,etc..). Here and there more modern sampling and keyboards were used (like on "Jacques Tati part 1"), combined with the classical orchestra and sax, rhythmic, fresh and young . A few other tracks were clearly more classical inspired. A classic.

Label entry :
Japanese page :
Review :
French short review :
Old (Dutch) article with funny picture :

LowlandsCro Magnon : Bull? (B,1997)****'

Cro Magnon’s second release was even more unique. The compositions and execution is dynamic from beginning to end (sometimes electric guitars, but always electric bass, often as contrast for two violins and (alt, soprano & baritone sax). The group sounds here at its best. They received help on cello, snaredrums, trumpet, French horn, clarinet,..with other musicians on some tracks. The basic compositions have one foot in classical music, with the other in the dynamism of a city life, rhythmic, brooding, urban music. Great stuff !

French review :

Side-project Fukkeduk reviewed next->

Lowlands       Fukkeduk : Ornithozozy (B,1994)***°°

This is another chamber music rock group from violinist Rik Verstrepen (member from Cro Magnon). This is wilder, more driven music with a chamber music “rock” edge. It is sometimes even very wild and crazy, then it is moving as being driven by a Balkan folkrock background, with some weird jazzy elements, played as if partly improvised, like a brassband-(heavy) rock band. Even when 90 % of the music keeps the full complexity of composed chamber music, the heavy jazzrock can drive it in the fire of the moment far away from it, without ever losing ground-. Apart from such (wow) "serious music moments" we also notice of few tracks with some ska-like humour. Highly recommended to the serious music fan !

English intro : &
Dutch interview :
privateDAAU : Tub Gurnard Goodness (B,2004)**°°

The style of DAAU (=Die Anarchistische Abundunterhaltung!) which attracted my attention with their first album*, and now when checking out again, with this 6th release is chamber music with some Balkan-folk and Klezmer-like influences, especially in use of clarinet. At the same time we also notice considerable minimalist-and tango-like arrangements, at an early stage it is almost psychedelic, or with ethno-folk-like repetitious layers and patterns in waves of increasing energy. Here this is embedded in, and has perhaps even matured and has adapted more details with the musical evolutions. It is especially the Cello, violin and accordion which are building this aspect of energy up. Melodically there are many moments of classical and contemporary classical music style composition. Mostly, this release holds the middle between all those styles. It is arranged nicely, and in an intelligent way, perhaps slightly improvised. Strange to have a reggae-like track in between the other compositions too, called “A little Funny Feeling”, with vocals by Angélique Wilkie, with simple but perfectly fitting arrangements, including some dub percussion !? But hearing a clarinet with such styled music still is at least unusual. There’s also another song near the end with the same singer, entitled “In My Midnight skies”, also with percussion by Roel Poriau. This one is arranged with a bit lmore complexity. All compositions are by DAAU, except one very good Radiohead interpretation, “2+2=5”. The album sounds really fine.

A shame I lost sight of this group for a while , since they at first seemed to me to moving away in different directions. But this release still proves the original aspects recognised in the first release still are there. The new elements in the instrumental compositions, have made the sound I think more mature, complex and interesting, and even more worthy of repeated listens.

PS. The name of the band refers to a quote from Herman Hesses’ book “Steppenwolf” saying “Anarchistic evening entertainment! Magical theatre. Entrance not for everybody. Only for the insane. Entrance costs sanity.”

*The debut “Drieslagstelsels" was a very improvised kind of contemporary classical music with a fire of psychedelica or a certain rock drive. Last track was folk inspired. That album was first privately released (the first print of the cover was different as the final result), and re-released by Sony.
The second album went into more mainstream territory, featuring An Pierlé (piano/vocals) and electronics, shortening their name into DAAU. With this album I lost track for a while, but afterwards I read that since the third album they went back to the old sound. Ialso  checked out the 2006 album.

Info : (click "eintritt") &
Bio (English) :
Dutch info :
Interview & info in Russian :
Dutch review :
Other reviews :
Soundfiles :
First album review :
Dutch reviews of older album :   ; next review->

Radical Duke Ent.DAAU : Domestic Wildlife (B,2006)***°

This new album sounds a compromise between a mostly calm (rock) improvisation, with jazz touches (especially bass player shows some jazz references just now and then) and ‘classical composition’.
While especially lower notes of strings (most often cello) seem to lead more often, this is done in combination with the accordeon, which gives a Piazolla chamber orchestra tango effect here and there. Different from the previously mentioned albums, there is also some drumming, which is kept often rather modest or simple, in a rock way, but it is able to give extra drive touches as well (in combination with bass). Just here and there a few electronic touches are added in the effects, or as incoming loops, showing the free anarchic position of the group.
Last few tracks confirm also their ability to express in a more free (jazz) way. Violin and clarinet follow most often the composed core, always with a classical hint.

For this album, the quartet had evolved to a sextet, but bass player Fré Madou, bass, left the band shortly after the recording.

Line-up is Buni Lenski : violin ; Simon Lenski : cello, electronica ; Han Stubbe : clarinet ; Roel Van Camp : accordion ; Geert “Boots” Budts : drums, electronica ; Fré Madou : upright bass.

Audio :
& on & on
Info on group :
Other press intro :
Dutch introduction from around this album:
Homepage (with audio) :
Fan website :
Other decsriptions & reviews on
Dutch description :
and reviews :
French reviews :
& on        next album ->
Rad.Duke Rec.  Die Anarch.Abundunterhaltung: The Shepherd's Dream -2CDbox- (B,2010)****

Back to their old full name (instead of their later shorter DAAU), this means also going back to their roots of serious chamber music improvisation, while (compared to the debut) being more experienced now, and calmed down with age and with deeper concentration. There’s a minimum of playing, with slow movements where first of all the accordion leads a couple of ideas, often also as much as with a play with a delicate balance of overtones and harmonies as with a slow melodic evolution, taken over by clarinet, (sometimes lower toned clarinet), while cello or double bass pluck some rhythms too. Every participation seems to breath out a certain area, then is taken over by another instrument while a delicate balance is followed by each instrument. This is a situation where minimalism and contemporary music meet. More often this sounds like a slow ballet. The album is released with some double sided art work prints in a wooden box in a limited edition, leaving one empty tray for a second live edition CD which can be obtained after a concert is attended.

This is the first album of the band without its violinist, Buni Lenski who has now moved to Paris. In that way the band returned to a more intimate chamber music sound, which they themselves also considered, just as I experienced this, as a matured version of their debut’s approach.

PS. The band also cooperated on the project “This immortal Coil”, a Coil tribute album on Ici D’Ailleurs.

Audio : “Out Of The Woods”  ;Info & audio :
Homepage :
Release info :
Label : &
With release info :
Dutch info on band :
click to see group picture
DemoAranis : Pantra-Jona EP (B,2005)****

This two-track demo of this new young Antwerp group Aranis shows for me a very promising group with a distinctive sound, thanks to a very good driven combination of classical composition with great thematical variety, coloured like a minimal music ensemble and with a Rock In Opposition ability, with touches of ideas derived from folk, classical music, but going beyond all this.

Full release is expected the second half of this year.

Audio : "Pantra", "Jona", "Indrigo"
Dutch article :
Webpage :
Live pictures : ; the full release->

Lowlands      Aranis (B,2005)****

Aranis is a septet with Linde De Groof, violin and vocals, Liesbeth Lambrecht, violin, Marjolijn Cools, accordion, Axelle Kennes, piano, Stijn Denys, guitar, Jana Arns, flute and vocals, Joris Vanvinckenroye, double bass with guest Edwin Vanvinckenroye on violin, vocals, and Dick Van Der Harst on selmer guitar, both on one track.

This is a successful and perfectly disciplined ‘soft chamber music rock’ project, with professionally worked out tracks in a R.I.O. style, which becomes almost like a typical Belgian style. The tracks flow with rich melodic freshness from one to the other. There’s a lightness combined with a more heavy bass and rhythmic improvisational rock drive embedded in a classical structure. The subtle vocal/choir arrangements on "Yosu" give the music an extra higher dimension. Here and there, like in “Oyma” a few folk element touches or improvisations are carefully almost unnoticeablely swallowed in the musical structure, but perhaps these few elements are simply coincidental. Last few tracks, but especially "Pantra" and "Labyrinth" are more like tango chamber music.

Audio : "Indrigo", "Jona", "Vuur", "Yosu" (or here) & ; live video here
Info :
Homepage :
Other review :
Dutch reviews :

Update this album now has a US release too :         next release ->
Lowlands      Aranis : II (B,2007)****

I looked forward to hear the reception of the evolution of Aranis. They gained popularity, and also found interest from outside Belgium. And now they have “found” pretty much their style.

On first hearing in the background, I heard how the group on the surface kept a certain minimalism in their inspiration, something like but not exactly like going from one chord rhythmically to the next, and found also the “tango” in it. A “tango” with minimalism could be a dangerous self-absorbing territory leaving no extra room for different inspirations, or with real communications with the outside, and could tend to cocoon itself in repetitions but even with this, like minimalism it can also make the maximum out of the minimum, with energy and strength.
At first, I wanted to hear the difference of such a start with some inspired minimalist album, to search for different aspects with minimalist inspirations. I listened to Yann Thierssen’s “Rue de Cascade”. This last mentioned album has also folkloristic associations, tells stories and shows changes with real emotions and shows colourful changing visions. With its own specific body of simple minimalist ideas this composer showed attraction by shaping a variety of worlds, with a quality that made this album to be rediscovered later to use it for the great movie of “Amelie Poulain..” (but that is of course a different story).
When listening closer to Aranis I heard that the emotional drifts I quickly noticed were more than just expressed with captivating fire and strength, and that real compositional ideas carry out intelligent structures that add new depths to the well arranged various actions. But even when some of the last few tracks lose themself completely in their own world, this has its own, different attraction which is to degree very filmic.

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.

Audio :
Homepage : ; next release->
Lowlands      Aranis : Songs From Mirage (B,2009)***°'

The last concert of Aranis with this repertoire had shown me already how the band has developed their sound to the next level, by having invited three professional singers of different backgrounds (jazz and scatting, and classical music) with differently coloured voices which harmonize and adapt to each other beautifully, and which elements and new possibilities are integrated perfectly into the compositional range of creative elements. Different tensions and classical evolutions build up nicely in time like descriptive melodious filmic music. The language being used to sing in is especially developed to suit the music best, which I think is a great idea and which works very well.
For the first 9 tracks this is as perfect as it can be: well controlled and composed, driven and with large suite-like tensions, and a few arranged tango-like directions besides the popular classical approach. All this sounds so well developed, perfectly recorded, interesting and with a certain emotional drive, as if being destined to become a Belgian classic. Some of the material and arrangements reminded me slightly of the Belgian release of composer Nicolas Lens called “Flamma Flamma”, a great neo-classical release with the best Belgian voices mixed with some Bulgarian voices.
Suddenly, around the tenth track, after an exaggeration not overly necessary repetitive theme the few dissonant tensions against this sounds like a desire to reach a Rock In Opposition tension, (from which I’m sure they learned something too,) beyond its basic approaches, out of the predicted limits, instead remain like a struggle from within the rhythmical limitations of its own minimalist patterns, as an idea which didn’t reach a new essence or necessity to break out beyond, and within this desire to drive the band further from here it is as if it is not yet knowing what to do next. And instead that the composition from here reaches a next level and a really transformed different variation, we only hear an improvisational part of scatting on the next track “Keria” and the themes being repeated a few times too often without adding anything really new.

For a large part Aranis still prove to be one of the more interesting bands around in Belgium, making this album absolutely worthwhile to check out.

Guest singers are Els van Laethem, Herlinde Ghekiere, and Anne Marie Honggokoesoemo.

Info & audio :
Homepage :
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Solo release of bass player Joris as BASta!
see   ; next album->
AltRock Prod.          Aranis : Roqueforte (B,2010)****

I have listened a couple of times to this album so that I could understand the creativity behind composition a bit better. Like the previous album, a composition builds up brilliantly and attractively in about 4 tracks. In this album this is like a classical music chamber music composition with a theme based upon a complex rhythm evolving over these sections with different accents and logical changes ending with a quiet flute led theme. After that, the basic theme, instead of evolving immediately to a second part, is repeated again into a more minimal edition. The rhythm foundation is simplified and the musical foundation of the composition has a lighter form which is chamber-like music that turned into a more minimalist form, closer to a more popular music format. The contributions of guest drummer Mark Kerman are sparse, like small logical commissioned accents. On the next track the foundations then  evolves further into a lyrical and swinging part, with a few leads by the, for this theme, very fitting accordion. This evolves further with happy swinging rhythmic changes, into a new interesting variation. Only near the end the most recognisable basic core theme returns once more shortly, like a song theme reminder, to complete and finish the score. Like a bis number at a concert a hidden 12th track is added after some minute of silence, with one more variation a bit lost in time.

Info & audio :
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Soon also on Home Recods :
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EMI    Troissoeur (B,2004)**°°

Funny that 3 brothers with friend call their group something like “3 sister”...

I saw the group listed in a folk list but this release mostly is a post-poprock item with very good modern production and perfect mixing (like we can expect on EMI, here directed by Daniel B, former Front 242 sound designer), which includes (chamber music) orchestrations, and other much more modern arrangements (like electronic beats, piano, guitars,..).

After two more (good) poppy tracks, (from which I really like “Little Dole”, surely after a couple listens), there are also three tracks between 7 and 10 minutes, and also one of 17 minutes, which is still unusually long for a partly ? pop-song orientated band. It is in such tracks where the group flourishes. The arrangements in these long tracks are less bound to the melodically repetitive character of pop music’s song orientation. Just listen first to the great instrumental part on “Kjilmé”, and how great “Sano M’ame” builds up during the track. The band are in fact good enough instrumentally to remain as a purely instrumental band. Compared to the strong instrumentation, the vocal parts are, for me, sometimes more ordinary, or still could use reconsideration in their final execution. The group sometimes use their own invented language for some songs, which is a good idea. There’s a more vulnerable singing on “Higher emotions”, with rather Gothic piano. Having listened to this track on two occasions it makes sense, with loops of ambient guitar and violin. On “Trays” there are some electronica, experimental whale-like violin sounds, some studio rhythm mixes mixed into an improvisational way of singing, with a slight overexposure in its emotional approach, still reminding me of better experimental rock voices, accompanied with guitar, modern use of rhythms, double bass, backing vocals, keyboards. On “No e Amo” they show their first origins of inspiration from Italian ? ethno-folk, using accordion, violin, double bass, with some electronic rhythm touches, -in a convincing way. The 17 minute 03” track, “Paving” starts as ambient pop, builds up slowly with an additional mixture of minimal chamber arrangements, with sometimes an hypnotic effect growing towards a moody and a more improvisational part, which leads to a full band improvisational driven closer, played by electric violin and double bass with electric guitar mostly. “Levina” combines the energy of improvisation, with a rock and ethno-folk drive, with great mixing, a fine chamber music layer, nice use of guitars, and electronic rhythm production effects. A nice closer for the album.

This an appealing release from a fine Belgium band which I’m sure will have a growing appeal on a bigger international scene.

Info : & on
Intro to group :
Info :
Dutch intro :
Opinion to group in Dutch :
Dutch reviews :
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Hungarian page :
Private  Boenox : Studio (B,2003)*°°

Boenox is a chamber music ensemble with basic instruments Oboe, Bassoon, Cello and Bass ; then there are also added some modern electronic rhythms and simple samples. The often somewhat filmic compositions are easy going and the approach is a bit more from a pop group, but then with a chamber music ensemble.
During their tour in France they called their music “Pop de chamber” (or “chamber pop”), which might be a pretty accurate description.
I hope they will grow a bit in their ideas, because with the same elements the music could be much more adventurous. If you compare this for instance to the Flesquartet’s work (who combine a quartet with some electronics too) Boenox sounds a bit too easily conceived. Favourite tracks are “Introïctus” and the potential hit “Tic-Tac”, and perhaps "Obsession".

Info :
with audio :
Audio files of earlier album  :
Belgian music entry :
Review (in Dutch) :
Interview (Dutch) :
Moonjune Rec.    The Wrong Object : Stories From The Shed (B,2008)****'

The previous release of The Wrong Object featured Elton Dean from Soft Machine, and with this release it is even more clear what a great band The Wrong Object really is.
With this new release they entirely prove a rarely seen strength, which is a combination of jazz & jazz-rock with movements of progressive rock (with subtle psychedelic effects or flavours on guitars and keyboards) mixed with rather Rock In Opposition & Canterbury flavours. This strength is also thanks to strong individual talents which all five members prove to have.
The album starts with a rather Balkan-flavoured brass theme, mixed with heavy rock, played in a jazz mode, and with progressive moves. Already from the start all members succeed to form their own layers of inspirations and improvisations. Even the bass player lifts out his skills well, especially with fuzz bass additions, but once with upright bass as well. While the trumpet improvises, often in combination with the sax, as the brass section, often on top, there are multiple individual leads interwoven. A couple times the electric guitars, in sonically tempered freaky and psychedelic tensions, improvise their own parts, (with a few tracks leading the movements a bit more). And also the drumming works independently in a complex and intelligent way. After a wilder structure on the edge of avant-garde, the original brass theme returns just slightly making great conclusions.

A perfect album, which is highly recommended, a must to those in progressive jazz-rock/RIO/Canterbury.

The Wrong Object is Michel Delville : guitar, guitar-synth, electronics ; Damien Polard : bass, electronics ; Laurent Delchambre : drums, assorted percussions, samples ; Fred Delplancq : tenor sax ; Jean-Paul Estievenart : trumpet, flugelhorn.

Audio :  "Sonic Riot at the Holy Palate","15/05","Sheepwrecked","Acquiring the Taste","Strangler Fig", "Lifting Belly", "The Unbelievable Truth - Part II" & on
& on
Homepage : with CD info here
Info on group :
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& on & on
Previous release with Elton Dean reviewed on the softmachine2 page ; next release further down->

Cuneiform Rec.    Univers Zero : Archives 1984-1986 (B,re.2009)****

Univers Zero in the 80s continued to show their full strength, but with lack of label interest they were not able to finance new recordings. One recording for an EP, “Crawling wind” was released in Japan but the band never received any payment other than 10 copies. This led to certain tensions live, and a few membership changes. They only recordings we still have between “Uzed” and “Hersesie” are collected here, overlapping with a few different versions from these albums. The band around this time had certain active cooperations with  Art Zoyd and Present. The music remains eclectic, a bit demanding in its classical rock setting, for me the few dissonant aggressions are perfect compensations for this, adding new natural energy. A very good album, but I am not sure if or how much new elements were visible:presented.

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Cuneiform Rec.    Univers Zero : Clivages (B,2010)****

Compared to the previous release of unreleased material from the 80s, Univers Zero on this latest release didn’t lose any of its power and craft. The first compositions by Daniel Denis and Andy Kirk follow their composed chamber rock tradition with a great direct pushing dark power drive (bass, drums), more powerful than ever, especially compared to the more recent releases. Here, UZ seems to be back with full energy, with a few settling natural disharmonies for new constructive aggression (on “Warrior”). The horn with violin section with piano confirm the composed element of their music. A few strange dark industrial sound effects also take part in the background (especially “Earth Scream” is an experiment with such dark sound as a contrast and intro for the other melodic compositions). The band stays close to a classical composed band but a near-improvised power (being well practised in their compositions) can be sensed as well. The rhythms give the right accents, confirming a fluent direct energy approach to the melodic arrangements. “Apesanteur”, composed by Michel Berckmans is clearly more led from ideas from the horn sections, which brings with it a welcome lighter part. Also Kurt Buddé’s compositions sound more classical than rock. It shows a quiet and mature sound, incorporating also a more complex rhythmical driven part, and has some violin led improvisation and some playful sax solo. The second Berckmans composition is a near-classical swinging and entertaining moody composition. A convincing new release, a new classic for the band.

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Cuneiform Rec.   Univers Zero : Heresie (B,1979,re.2010)****°

“Heresie” was the only album I have missed from Univers Zero, I knew it was the darkest one, and it was a reason for me not to check it too quickly. In this definitive version, after a professional remastering process that took over one month, the depth and power and brooding, like God creating inspirations out of a black hole, come across much better. The layers of every contribution and instruments are mixed better than I recall in the original mix, so that the creation sounds more complete.
On “La Faulx” you can hear something of a composition unfolding and building itself up out of an improvisation like a wild beast out of the darkness which shatters its presence. This is outside music, a ritual with roots inside contemporary classical music and new rock improvisation. Out of a darkness with iron peeps, violin peaks and bass harmonium and percussive accents dark deformed voices come forward, -a frightening atmosphere-. This is an apocalyptic atmosphere, never the less free in its core. The violin parts, the frightening voice effects and the electric bass comes free like a monster crawling out of its cave. It is as if a composition sees the light after this, arranged with oboe/bassoon and violin/viola, rhythmically expanding in a complex rhythmic and melodic way, brilliantly in a recognisable R.I.O./Univers Zero way. Also the changes after that with accordion-alike repetition, violin improvisation are of a doomed but leaving-something-exploration brooding-inside nature. Something primitive and something chaotic is terminated by a stronger evolution of a sort of rhythmic breaking through and forward moment. Then a more melodic theme returns with a complex arrangement rhythmically divided and growing even further from within to new forms of "breaking eggs" faces. This becomes a very classical composition with beautiful rock-alike contrasts and well fitting harmonies. A masterpiece, now with a perfect mix.
“Jack The Ripper” like the title already inhabits, is another dark image, a fantasy in a setting of deserted streets or something, a new music composition unfolding with beautiful harmonies between the instruments. The way the rhythms and themes move are beyond classical music and rock, a new genre on its own, with intelligent and nicely composed music. The rhythmic / compositional changes take your breath away and are amazing and a great example of possibilities in music, also technically. Another amazing piece !
The last piece, from Roger Trigaux, is the most clearly composed. Another beautiful violin / viola / drums / oboe composition, more classical in nature, with the bassoon adding more step rhythms to the composition.
Sounding as if this was an open ending, it is not bad at all that one unreleased track remastered from an audio tape was added as well, even when the source was of a less professional nature. Also this has been treated with the same care. It completes the album well. It is a very composed piece with great ambitious rhythmic change.

Audio on
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Review of previous edition :
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Home Rec.    Aranis : Made In Belgium (B,2013)****/***°

My last review for Home records had to be for Aranis. Not only I had followed the band from the beginning. We have shared some interests, which seem to have become a small part of participation into the process of history. It is slightly amusing when I read in the notes how they endorsed the idea of bringing closer the music groups from Belgium that all independently seemed to have something unique of a vision in common: the combining of chamber music with rock. I once pointed out that Belgium abroad and amongst collectors of good music is also know for several such groups, to that degree of coincidence of common feeling and sense for fusing styles, that you can even list them together in a style that should still be given a separate name, different from the Rock In Opposition movement in the UK, or Zeuhl (the influence of the band Magma) in France. I called it simply Chamber Music Rock (a term taken over in the booklet), with bands like Univers Zero/Present, Cro Magnon and of course Aranis, Joris did all he could to warm up governmental support for such a project, bringing these musicians together and contacting them personally too.

You can see the album partly like a tribute to that movement, in Aranis’s chamber music style, which surely developed further, with their tracks and tracking of interest. Of course Joris also is a big fan of minimalist hero Wim Mertens, from which at least one track is very recognizable, almost like a statement. And they also introduced Dick Van der Harst too, who more often made interesting arrangements and tracks too but who might be forgotten too easily otherwise for working so independently, if not supported in such a project. The style hangs between chamber music arrangements of music that is no longer purely classical, but that hangs with one ear in the inspirations of folk, rock, avant-garde chamber music, tango or of course the occasional minimalism. Most tracks are rearrangements of the involved bands and composers.

Info :

Moonjune Rec.     The Wrong Object : After the Exhibition (B,2013)****'

The Wrong Object only seems to increase their quality and level of performance, which is a kind of jazz-rock with a certain rock drive groove that has certain repetitive pulses and is guided by jazzy and groovy guitar solos; this is also alternated with intelligent rhythmical changes and more compositional complexity. Where elsewhere the jazz and jazz-rock or even rock dominated more, a kind of Zappaesque and crafty arranged combinations (-especially those additions with marimba and electronic vibraphone by Benoit Moerlen-) are making perfect finishing touches. There are beautiful solos starting from one instrument towards the next one, with also nice fuzz sounds of the different guitars. Within those compositions are a few extra surprising themes, like the Klezmer-like theme on “Spanish Fly”, which transforms itself into jazz-rock. “Jungle Cow” in 3 parts is a more experimental track, starting in a moody setting, imitating night birds with voices and reed instruments with some percussive texturing, distant colouring saxes and so on, until an improvisation/arrangement is calmly added and until this receives a wilder and also rockier setting, improvising into a Middle Eastern rhythm, to finally change this into the Zappaesque sort of arrangements, only to return back to conclude this with all its different previous elements once more. One track is more like a sophisticated jazz song with accompanying ideas that range from jazz-rock to groove with a bit of more symphonic piano.

A rewarding album that that shows how the group is destined to become a classic band and trademark of its own.

Other review:

Go to review page 3->
(more Chamber-Music Rock associations)
or go back to psych / prog music index
or go back to general music index

Other chamber music rock pages :
see Fleshquartet at the Swedish reviews page
and Chamber Music related inspirations page 1, page 2, page 3
and at the RIO pages (not updated ye
back to Belgian reviews page 1