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Goodbye The Gathering, Hello Agua De Annique
Posted on Friday, September 28 2007 @ 13:14:28 CDT by Duncan Glenday
Progressive Rock

The Gathering practically invented its particular genre of music in the early '90s. It was dark and doomy, laden with heavy guitar riffs, angry solos and compelling arrangements - and it was all fronted by a golden voiced siren whose delivery created such a contrast with the underlying instrumentals that it quickly spawned many followers. Think Italy's Lacuna Coil, Finland's Nightwish, Austria's Edenbridge, and Dutch compatriots Within Temptation and After Forever; and ultimately, the super-successful mainstream American group Evanescence - who we have described in these pages as a Janie-come-lately clone of Mandylion-era The Gathering.

We interviewed Anneke van Giersbergen the singer and heartbeat of the band in April 2006 after the band released Home, which we declared to be very good but without the edge the band was known for in its earlier career.

Then - without warning - Anneke announced her resignation from The Gathering, expressing a wish to pursue solo interests. And now, with her first effort Air by the (almost) eponymous band Agua De Annique, we're able to gauge the results of the move that shook the Dutch alternative rock scene.

What does she hope to accomplish? What kind of songs will she write? Who's in the new band? Will The Gathering ever reunite? Sea Of Tranquility's Duncan Glenday caught up with Anneke to ask those questions ... and many others.

Firstly, let's establish something: Anneke's departure from The Gathering is permanent.

She'll tell you it was a friendly parting of the ways and that they're still all friends, but when pressed about how often she expects to socialize with her old bandmates, she plays it coy with a "we can't tell just how it's going to play out..." Then when pressed further about the possibility of a reunion, she replies "Who knows - maybe in ten years or so. Who knows...".

The new band called Agua De Annique is not quite a solo project. Although it's clearly named for herself, it isn't quite a band either - at least, not in the traditional sense. Anneke's vocals are at the heart of he music, and she adds the and piano lines. Husband Rob Snijders plays drums, Joris Dirks plays guitar and provides a few vocal lines, and Jacques de Haard plays bass. But each of these artists has a 'home' band as well, for whom van Giersbergen has provided vocals on various occasions - so the four artists, and their respective bands, form a loose alliance of musicians who form and re-form as the need arises. We've seen this work successfully before, with the loose alliances (including a husband and wife team) in the Lana Lane / Erik Norlander / Rocket Scientists / et al group of artists.

Many of the songs on Anneke's debut album Air were written years ago - some were offered unsuccessfully to The Gathering and others never left the shelf. Other songs are new, but all are what Anneke describes as "romantic and dark, but also showing glimmers of hope". She makes it clear that "...because these songs were written by one person they don't have as many elements as The Gathering's music - they're simpler, not so layered and not as eclectic". She describes the songs as "alternative pop-rock", and the words 'progressive' and 'metal' no longer form parts of her lexicon. "The songs are about life, and simple things," she tells us. "Although a few of the lyrics are a bit more eclectic, or metaphorical".

There isn't really a theme, or a unifying concept, to Air - besides the fact that they describe vignettes of her life through the passage of several years. The songwriting is 95% her own - over 6 months she brought her songs into the studio and the band helped refine them, helping build a rich character into each track.

Marketing the new band in the Netherlands may be a slam dunk, since her departure from The Gathering - and the impending release of Air - have been blessed with plenty of mainstream media attention. More remote markets may be more of a challenge, though, and is being driven by interviews, the distribution network she's built, and principally, an aggressive online presence. Her ex-Gathering status will obviously give her a jump start in many markets. There could be tours in the future, although she acknowledges that those are "much harder in the USA". The first pressing is relatively modest, and reprints will be planned after the initial uptake has been evaluated. Her production costs were very low, though, so van Giersbergen is hoping for financial as well as artistic success.

Click here to see our reviews of Agua De Annique's Air.

Pictures and photos reproduced with permission of
Agua De Annique
The End Records

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