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Neo-Prog • Belgium

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Amanda biography
Written as AmAndA, this sextet evolved from the southwestern suburbs of Brussels, with a very theatrical (with some original accessories and decors) symphonic prog with a modern edge, but expanding a vast and humorous world, sung in French (and sometimes in Latin), which fascinates their audiences.

Their debut album "Qui Est AmAndA?" came out in 02 and featured very strong vocals (including real professional choirs) and brilliant pop-rock ambiances, and the quartet slowly acquired a strong local following. Their music sometimes reminding of a proggier Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody-like), Saga and Ange and the centrepiece is the 20-mins Falaises. Two years later the group issued a single called Voilà, which would find a way of the future album. While the group became a sextet, their second album the excellent La Maison De Flore had to wait until 07, and achieved another big project of theirs almost simultaneously, as they recorded in the Universirté of Louvain La Neuve, their music accompanied by a 50 musician symphonic orchestra. This is also bound to be released one day, but shelved for now. The group returned in the studio and churned out the equally impressive Là Où Chimène Dort in early 12, which received excellent reviews where the specialized press was aware of them. This third album picks up where their second Flore album. The group is now working on yet another album, maybe for late-13 or early-14.

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AMANDA discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

AMANDA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.12 | 14 ratings
Qui Est AmAndA?
3.98 | 19 ratings
La Maison De Flore
4.13 | 19 ratings
Là où Chimène dort ?

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AMANDA Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Là où Chimène dort ? by AMANDA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.13 | 19 ratings

Là où Chimène dort ?
Amanda Neo-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Continuing in their explorations of mysterious women around them, after Amanda and the blonde Flore, we're now focusing on the Chimène, a most-likely sumptuous brunette (all we see is her hair and lips, much like we had for Flore). A slight change in the line-up (Gauthier had already helped on their debut album) is one of the reasons why it took almost 5 years between albums. While Chimène is definitely in the logical musical continuity of Flore, it's hardly a carbon copy, but it is unmistakably an AmAndA album from the first note until the Maxwell's last drop. Yes, their rather enjoyable and accessible mix of rock-pop and prog still sounds unlike anyone other group I heard, with the Queen and Saga influences of yesteryear now gone, though the Ange one remains, when listening to their latest album. The album's outside artwork is already, but the innerfold's Japanese medieval print is equally intriguing, but referring to some undisclosable gender relation.

Opening on two short tracks serving as a crescendoing intro (including a trumpet) from the "newcomer" Gauthier, the album veers into the main course on Saam's crunchy guitar and Mik's electric piano into Littleton. Bassist Claude and Mik are at the centre of the next two tracks: Docteur Pierrot and Claude's Clone suite, the former going post-rock, while the second is a typical (and excellent) number of theirs. As interesting a start that was/is, it's closely followed by Saam's poignant Confidence, with some thoughtful lyrics and searing guitar heroics, despite some not-so-successful drumming that sounds programmed and a tad 80's-ish. The following two-piecer Devenir and Fou is clearly the album's peak, opening on a one-note piano ostinato then going symphonic (there are somùe missing lyrics in the booklet) then intro-ing directly in the absolutely poignant and chilling Fou, where the vocakls are delivered in the Jacques Brel manner with lyrics worthy of Le Grand Jacques (Mik's mastery of French is impressive here), the verses being interrupted by a total musical madness. Outstanding stuff really!!

But unfortunately the following two-picer can't live up to its predecessor's standard. Despite a promising and eerie intro, Celestial Poker sounds like a French pop tune, even if there are some interesting lines in the lyrics. However another typical AmandA facet comes back with the choral Cornelius Ballad, where the band deals us another one of these semi- Burana pieces that only them can do. As the choir-piece segues in the album's title track (subtitled "six questions about ecstasy"), one can't help thinking again of La Chanson Française, but behind's Mik's again absolutely wonderful lyrics and plenty of dramatics too boot. The album dips again somewhat with following Au Bout De Ma Rue, a guitar-heavy with some opera squeals tune, but the bottom is reached with the hors-de-propos Belgique piece. Not bad in itself, but ruining the album's cohesiveness. Best programming out this tune when playing the album, because to end it here would mean you're missing the album's second highlight, the 11-mins+ On, the first part being sung, but it's lengthy instrumental (well there are some lovely choirs in it) part that evolves out of it, some parts that Karl Orff would've gladly signed as his. The lengthy heroic On finale drops to a slow a capella outro.

Although again not flawless (especially that out-of-context Belgium-love tune), but this is clearly the best of what Belgium had to offer, along with Aka moon's saxman Fabrizzio Cassol's solo album Strange Fruit. Clearly AmAndA has reached a new level in their art, and hopefully their upcoming album will reach the perfection they're aiming at.

 Qui Est AmAndA? by AMANDA album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.12 | 14 ratings

Qui Est AmAndA?
Amanda Neo-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars D'but album from one of the more melodic group from Belgium in recent years, AmAndA started out as quartet shelling out some rather straight songs that are hovering between modern chanson fran'aise and some brilliant sophisticated pop-rock. The group is particularly strong in the vocal department, as the lead singer Thibaut has a very interesting and wide range, and he's very aptly complemented by keyboardist Mik3, who provides some excellent supplementary 'voce', more or less in the same range and register. Guitarist Saam and drummer Greg complete the quartet. But as much as Thibaut and Mik3 are an earful, you'll get plenty more 'voces' spread unevenly throughout the album's ten songs (which include a short self-titled intro, courtesy of Mik3's keyboards), you'll also find plenty of backing vocals from the group's friends and even a proper choir called A Piu Voci, of which Thibaut is a member.

Behind the scratchy-vinyl sonics, Mik's keys and an oboe open in a very pastoral manner the album, leading directly in the intimate Le Faux Eveil, a piece that evolves slowly and escapes a bit the standard song format, partly due to Thibaut's falsetto chant, segueing in a church-like Latin choir at the end. Despite its title, Welcome is a brilliant French-sung piece where Mik's synths are reminiscent of poppier prog that dominated the 80's (but don't carry the poor characteristics/flaws of that era), but again, it's the vocal arrangements that pull the trick. Ailes Du D'sir is a darker piece opening on a pedestrian bass (pedals most likely, since there is no dedicated bassist at this stage) and a short organ line, but once the first verse is in, the typical group sonics comes out. As with the following very ambitious 20-mins+ Falaises, you might be tempted to think of Canadian group Saga; but AmAndA is not afraid to break away (sometimes abruptly, but never hors-de-propos) in different direction. At times, one could also think of Marillion with Fish on Quaaludes, but AmAndA is so much more than that' Some of the sonic moods can remind of Queen's more adventurous musical adventures as well. After that epic centrepiece, one would expect the album to lower in intensity, but the following Gloria Victis goes Gregorian (closer to Carmina Burana than Magma) to maintain the suspense. However as its title hints, La Fin D'Une Histoire also announces the drop of intensity we feared. The upbeat Demain is unable to reverse the tendency and the effect-laden Final is little more than an afterthought.

Qui Est AmAndA will probably not appeal right away to progheads, because despite the originality of some songs (all sung in French), as some of the numbers don't hold much 'proginess', but might make you reminisce a bit about Saga, Queen or even Ange. If you don't master French, you might have trouble following the interesting and thoughtful lyrics, because the texts are not fully reproduced in the booklet and even migrate from one page to the other without much a warning, not to mention the inaccurate track separations or incrementing. A very encouraging self-produced debut album, but certainly not without its share of flaws, but the armchair artwork is certainly a good place to discover the band's sonics'. Better start with their next album (La Maison De Flore), though.

 Qui Est AmAndA? by AMANDA album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.12 | 14 ratings

Qui Est AmAndA?
Amanda Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars New Belgian act,hailing from the small village of Jollain-Merlin near the Belgian-French borders.They were formed in 1999 by theatrical singer Thibaut de Halleux and keyboardist Mik 3 (real name: Michael Cauchies),initially performing as a trio.Moving on as a keys/voice/bass/guitar/drums quintet,Amanda self-released their debut ''Qui est Amanda ?'' (Who is Amanda?) in 2002.

Modern melodic progressive rock with Classical inspirations and strong elements from Opera is what the listener has to deal with here.Everything seems to start and end in Halleux's theatrical singing and Mik3's keyboards here.The tracks feature a mainly grandiose operatic atmosphere with high-pitched vocals and Classical-influenced keys.Mik3 uses a variety of synths to capture the atmosphere of Classical Music and Opera,the result is often very attractive,but the sound could certainly be richer.Comparisons with ANGE are strong and eventual,from the numerous vocal-based breaks to the constant use of symphonic keys,though with a more modern edge.Weird enough the shorter tracks work better for the band,containing nerve,energy and groove under this operatic symphonicism.The long epic ''Falaises'' is rather too long,too soft,too melancholic and too melodic to be either conveincing or fully appreciated,some more dynamics would help.Some nice guitar solos are also in the menu,but the rest of the band definitely remains in the background.

Amanda's first album is a good proposal for anyone into modern grandiose Symphonic Rock with a theatrical vibe and fans of a stronger keyboard-driven sound.A richer and more balanced sound would help the band reach the top of the prog league but nevertheless their debut is quite interesting and partly original.Recommended.

 La Maison De Flore by AMANDA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.98 | 19 ratings

La Maison De Flore
Amanda Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Amanda is a very intrsting young progressive rock band from Belgium who reached at number 2 album in 2007 named La maison de flore. The band is a sextet playing , at least for me, a combination of eclectic moments , symphonic arrangements and here and there some neo prog elements added make from this second album a truly great album in this field. Theatrical music sung in french and ocasionaly in latin, this album is quite pretencious in places, but very well played and composed, solid and tight musicianship grace the album from the first to last note. Geting from almost dark passages where the keybords had a main role with solid guitar chops to a more happy atmosphere Amanda did a great job here. When listen to this album , similarities comes in mind with Ange, in some parts maybe Gnesis, but also some neo prog elements are present but not sounding like other bands from this genre either. The story of the album is around Flore, the blonde girl from the cover art in combination witht he music sung in french, this album get a special stus in moder progressive rock scene, maybe not only from Belgium but in general. Very underrated band IMO, this second release needs a better view for sure, one of the most pleasent album I've come across lately. 4 stars for sure, fans of the bands mentioned above with an eclactic sound overall might try this band because worth it.
 La Maison De Flore by AMANDA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.98 | 19 ratings

La Maison De Flore
Amanda Neo-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Second self-released album for this Belgian combo, coming from the South of Brussels having started out some 4 years ago, a sextet that came to attention with their very spectacular theatrical shows and a very original and dramatic music, while always remaining fun and light-hearted. Indeed we are light years away from the sombre chamber prog of Present and Univers Zero, and this is rather good news for the Belgian scene, which is flourishing with a new wave of prog groups, of which AmAndA is one of the brightest hopes. While the Flemish groups seem to stick to formulas and signing in English, on the Walloon side, some of the groups (AmAndA a.o.) don't hesitate to develop some more unusual sounds and dare singing in their native tongue, which gives all the more force to the originality of their music.

And AmAndA is indeed original, coming more as a concept on the mysterious and elusive character, to the point of intriguing everyone with their question: "Qui Est AmAndA?" Don't look yet for solutions in this album, since the group concentrates on a delicious blonde girl called Flore (AmAndA's sister? Lover? Best friend?) sprawled all over the album, including a superb slipcase and on the disc itself. So blond an animal, that her blond mane inspired of some of Belgian's most famous brews (hopefully tasting like them too ;-), Flore could even make us forget AmAndA.

AmAndA's music is resolutely modern, some might even hear it close to neo-prog: there is a bit of that, but also so much more. Indeed the music oscillates between a solid symphonic prog ala Genesis or Ange, without sounding retro either, laced with a solid dose of crunchy guitars (almost metal) and highly entertaining vocals ranging from the operatic to the whispering, riveting us to our seat (especially the Latin passage of Sontes Latent), begging for more and prayer for relief at the same time.

The main spirit of AmAndA is FUN, so their music reflects that, remaining happy even in the dramatic moments where they pull a few spine chills from the listener, even if the subject of the lyrics can seem trite. And AmAndA also has a very pop side as well, reminiscent of the greater Queen, 10 CC or The Sparks, even sporting art rock looks; their pop facet even taking a bizarre synthetic rhythm at times. But the guitar duo will never allow it to digress from the rock aesthetics, while the keyboard duo will reinforce prog "topics".

Likely one of the most original albums to come in the new millennium from Belgium (I'd even say Europe), La Maison De Flore is sometimes astonishing (even astounding) by the flawless execution, and even non-French speakers should enjoy this highly entertaining storyline in great part due to excellent vocal works.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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