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Haizea - Hontz Gaua CD (album) cover

HONTZ GAUA

Haizea

 

Prog Folk

4.11 | 20 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4,5 stars really!!!

If their debut album was a quiet pastoral and bucolic affair, this second (and unfortunately last) album is in a much different class and is one of the best folk prog albums from not only Continental Europe but also the whole planet. Unlike some of my fellow reviewer, I do not specifically (outside of the vocals which are in Basque as opposed to English in the debut) detect any major Basque ethnic musical characteristics. Actually the first track sounds quite Fairport Convention (it is also the poorest and shortest of the album) and will remind you of the debut album. If the album as a whole sounds like a typical folk prog album, there are some notable and surprising (and delightful) differences.

The album starts per se from the second track with a delicious flute soon relayed by a cello (actually a bowed contrabass) over wind chimes, the song taking a medieval ambiance that only the flutes can enhance even more to reach a dancing climax and completely unexpected ending. The droning bowed contrabass returns to accompany the superb vocals (in a very pure celtic tradition except for the complex Basque language) but soon quite unexpectedly the electric guitar takes for a short but psych solo into a fade out (strangely reminding me of Amon Duul II's Chris Karrer). Arnaki is maybe my fave track on the first side with a delightful flute leading into an upbeat almost jig-like tempo before the electric guitar takes over but this time less abrupt but for a lengthier exploration.

Liturgical vocals (but sung rather clumsily and oddly chosen when knowing what is to come later on in the track) start the sidelong epic of the second side, with water streams guitar arpeggios and superb flutes lines taking over with bongos and tabla drums making slowly the change into a slightly raga feel. The tracks almost dies out and different bells wake up the electric guitars which takes a bit of time to find its way before changing direction when hearing female vocalist moaning and groaning, and there is more of psychedelic improvisations bordering on free jazz but never crossing the line - not always necessary noodlings but generally charming. Once calmed down the flute comes back with the droning contrabass giving again chilling medieval ambiances before the crystal singing of Amaia takes over. Reminds me of Crimson's Formantera Lady and a pity the album is so short!!!

One of the hidden gems coming from the Spanish federation (if the Basque will allow me) and a small but not flawless chef d'oeuvre. Easily my the top 25 of folk prog albums, IMHO.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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