Itoiz – 1978
Publication date: 1978
Country: Euskal Herria (Basque Country)
Style: Progressive Folk Rock
Playing Time: 45:59
CD: Japanese remaster, 2009
Format: Lossless FLAC tracks (+CUE+LOG), mp3 320 kbps
Booklet: Scans included
Lyrics: in the booklet, in Basque, with Spanish translation
Size: FLAC 336 MB, mp3 132 MB (all incl. +5% recovery)
Another symphonic gem from the Basque region. ITOIZ was formed by Joseba Erkiaga (flute), A. Azkarraga (bass), Estanis Osinalde (drums), J.C. Perez (guitars), and Jose A. Fernandez (Fender Rhodes piano, Grand piano, Hammond organ, Kong Polyphonic ensemble, ARP synthesizer). Their style is a mixture Basque folk, prog-rock and a little jazz. Still, there are (not surprisingly) absolutely no traces of flamenco influences. The music here is quite beautiful (very Italian, in fact) and emphasizes melodic interplay between interactions of wind instruments with keyboards, and guitars. Most of the tracks have male vocals, while the best tracks have some very beautiful female vocals. But they sing in the Basque language. Their early albums are now considered classics. Although they have many albums only “Itoiz” stands out as a real folk-progressive masterpiece. Their pompous arrangements remind GENESIS and CAMEL although ITOIZ also draw from their own folklore.
2. Goizeko Deiadar
3. Zati Txiki Bat La M’en
4. Lau Teilatu
5. Hiltzori I
6. Hiltzori II
7. Foisis Jauna
8. Astelehen Urdin Batean
– Joseba Erkiaga / flute
– Estanis Osinalde / drums
– Juan Carlos Perez / guitar and vocals
– Jose Garate / bass
– Jose Antonio Fernandez / keyboards
Album review:Although the Basque were better known for their prog folk groups, Itoiz, while remaining inherently Basque, was probably the most symphonic of all of those late 70’s group from the rebel provinces and in all likelihood the Basque group most likely to please the progheads. Graced with one of the stranger artwork around with a large plastic window (making it one of the most sought-after Spanish-related records ever), the quintet’s debut album is a particularly enjoyable and is quite a poetic affair with heavy symphonics, but staying firmly rooted in “latin” roots, if the Basque will allow lumping their culture in an ocean of Latin culture surrounding them. The line-up is your standard prog quartet plus a flutist and both the guitarist and bassist are singing.
While hardly flawless (it appears that the lead guitarist, JC Perez, could not sing and play at the same time, but I am not positive about this, but he is also the main composer), this first oeuvre is a rather impressive flute-laden Genesis or Camel-influenced prog, but somehow also prefacing the 80’s symphonic or neo-prog. It is rather hard to say much more about this album, but if you love Italian prog lyricism, this stuff will simply overwhelm you, like only PFM, or QVL can. Never groundbreaking, not even original, but damn well executed for a debut album.
While they were not really among the forerunner of the Basque musical upheaval, Itoiz remains one of the best remembered and even if they changed quite a bit over the years, they were the ones that had the longest career, recording into the late 80’s. While a little pompous (and certainly not helped by the Basque lyrics) and the above-mentioned “latin” feel, this music is always very melodic and never offensive to the ears, but seems to lack a little imagination or personality that would’ve made it that extra special to make it stand out. Close but no cigar.
Sean Trane, www.progarchives.com
remarks: Thanks 123dutch for the link