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Itoiz - Ezekiel CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.11 | 116 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars While their debut was quite an impressive achievement for a young group, Itoiz decided to up the ante by producing a concept album, the subject (written by group outsider Joseba Alklade) of which will most likely evade almost everyone but the Basque since, they sing in the own native tongue, but forget (unlike their fellow Basque groups) to supply the translation in either French or/and Spanish. While the artwork evokes an exile, the music is certainly much more advanced delving more deeply into jazz and folk than the symphonic influences of the debut. The line is fairly different and actually extended to violin and sax players while it is plainly obvious that JC Perez remains at the driving wheel. As mentioned above, the musical feel is rather different than the symphonic debut and the excursions into the jazz-rock realm are probably the most enthralling while the folk passages are sometimes a bit cheesy, but overall the music excels and even sometimes shines brighter than the sun.

Right from the starting blocks, Itoiz is grabbing you by the hand and forcing you to jog on along the musical trip leading you into what certainly sounds like saga, not a deep-frozen Viking one, one from nation that went out to fish on new world fish banks one thousand years before Columbus discovered it. Unfortunately it is frustrating of not being able to grasp the storyline, especially given to the music factor of this disc, it has a lot of chance to be fascinating.

Listen to the dramatic Ikasgaia and its constantly evolving climates, using shamelessly every single joyful mood and transport it musically, with a superb bass escaping leading and directing the music. That flute would not even exist if the bassist's jazzy-funky-folky groove was not carrying everything with it. And the superb female scatting voice is only one of the highlights leading into the superb acoustic guitar of Amatea and its bizarre medieval twist just contrasting to Erantzuna troubadour-declaiming lyrics. Shit, I wish I spoke Basque, just to be able to profit to the fullest to this masterpiece of folk-inspired music, and it is not the finale that will deny it.

And that's just the second part; the first being just as worthy but the vinyl found its way one my turntable that way. I could tell you about that first side just as lyrically as I did for its flipside (are you still with me?), but rather than flogging your already-conquered curiosities, I'd rather save my words for more discoveries of the genre. But this one is really worth it. Those almost-Celtic ambiances with a slight more southern flavour is likely to enchant all kinds of west Europeans, from the Land Of The Midnight Sun to the Canary Islands.

Itoiz's next album (the only one I have not heard), recorded two years later is reputed to be relatively similar, although slightly softer rock), but the following ones are completely un-prog (almost regressive) sounding like a second or third rate U2, even if politically, they seem more engaged by then. In the meantime, prefer this album over their debut if you enjoy a bit wider-scoped prog music. Your life WILL be better once this disc will be yours.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |


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