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Errobi - Ametsaren Bidea  CD (album) cover

AMETSAREN BIDEA

Errobi

 

Prog Folk

3.74 | 19 ratings

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Progfan97402
4 stars My first try at Basque prog rock, and I'm glad I chose this album because it's a great one. I have no idea what these guys are singing about as the Basque language has no relation at all to Spanish or any Indo-European language (in fact language scholars have a difficult time tracing its origins), but I understand they were a politically-oriented band, which should surprise me not at all given the Basque separatist movements that occurred during and after the Franco regime. Errobi got its name for the river that runs through the area, known to us non-Basque speakers as the Nive River. I understand the Basque scene tended more towards folk and folk rock, so I don't expect to find a whole lot of Basque bands in the Yes or Genesis vein. But Ametsaren Bidea, released in 1979 on the Xoxoa label (a small Basque label based in Bilbao) ends up being their most progressive release. Hard to imagine a band's most progressive recording being released in 1979 when their debut appeared around 1975, but that's what happens here. The folk elements are still there, but in an eclectic prog context (with some jazz rock/fusion elements), so it's safe to say eclectic prog fans should like this as much as prog folk fans. "Alboka" is the opening cut, and in fact named after the musical instrument that dominates this piece. The alboka is a single reed instrument with animal horns for the mouthpiece and bell, and two rows of holes, able to play two notes at once. The Welsh pibgorn is similar, except it only has one row of holes and is monophonic. This piece gives a nice lively festive feel, I like how the alboka sounds a bit out of tune compared to the rock instruments being used on this piece. The 17 minute title track starts off rather slow, with a 1980s vibe going on, but I like how the music picks up steam, including fusion elements, and I also like the use of whistle in a couple passages (this whistle is probably Basque in origin and not the common Irish tin whistles. Except for the marimba-like txalaparta, as heard on Area's Maledetti, I'm not to familiar with musical instruments native to the Basque region). "Andere" is a rather intense piece, there's a bit of that medieval vibe going on, with more jazzy passages. It's only appropriate that the final piece, "Oraino" should be a rather relaxed piece. I realize there several other Basque groups around this time period worth investigating. I am a lucky owner of the original LP on Xoxoa, Han Pokora give a four out of six disc rarity rating in his 3001 Record Collector Dreams book, meaning it's incredibly hard to find as an original. It also included an insert with Spanish and French translations of the songs (realizing that not every Basque on the Spanish or French side spoke Basque, especially during the Franco years in Spain). Although this is from 1979, the music has a 1980s feel and production, despite the lack of synths, particularly during the more mellow moments, it has that crystal clear sound you expect from digital recordings (although this was an analog recording as only about three or four digital recordings came out in 1979, from Ry Cooder, Stevie Wonder and True Myth). Luckily it's not like neo-prog or proto-neo-prog. I'm glad to have this album and if you're looking for something off the beaten track, fancy prog sung in a very obscure language very few know about, it's worth trying.
Progfan97402 | 4/5 |

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