The idea of Belgian Joris Vanvinckenroye – composing scores for solo double bass, superimposing the parts and utilizing the instrument’s traits to form lines, counterpoints and a rhythm section all alone – is good enough. The problem is that, even with a skilled performer behind it, Cycles is too harmonically light to be considered worthy of belonging in the elite – nor in the secondary rank – of the music we deal with on these shores; it may be a compilation of tuneful sketches or refined demos, but is not felt as a set of fully flourished pieces by this writer. The occasional flash of interest is soon replaced by the ascertainment of the insufficient density of the compositional matter, and – at the end of the day – listening to undemanding melodies, nicely executed in contrapuntal cuteness, is not what I’m looking for these days.
Although still not considerable as a chef d’oeuvre, Songs From Mirage is a step forward by Vanvinckenroye, who in this case orchestrates for a chamber ensemble including two violins, accordion, piano, double bass, guitar and flute, plus a female vocal trio. Take the most digestible ingredients of Thierry Zaboitzeff, Julverne, late Philip Glass, Wolfgang Salomon (has anybody heard Luna – Small Steps For Mankind?) and shake them within accessible harmonic contexts spiced with a tad of Medieval and East European reverberations; organize the recipe for musicians who show positive adroitness and a degree of passion in the performance, and you’ll be partially acquainted with what these materials sound like. As a bonus, Aranis introduce a little dissonance here and there to make things moderately interesting. My advice is enjoying the disc via speakers at moderate volume: the way in which the whole evolves thanks to the chosen instrumentation lets the acoustic scent spread charmingly, sporadically rendering it more precious than it really is. (Homerecords)