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Steve Hegede
5 stars Another symphonic gem from the Basque region. The music here is quite beautiful (very Italian, in fact) and emphasizes melodic interplay between Acoustic guitars, HACKETT-ish electric guitar, flutes, and saxes. Most of the tracks have male vocals, while the best tracks have some very beautiful female vocals.
Report this review (#22230)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Itoiz was a prog symphonic pop band from mutriku in Euskal Herria (Vasque Country). They started playing together the music they liked GENESIS, FLOYD,ZEPPELIN etc.. but in that era 1974 they they couldn't play their stuff so they had to do covers to earn money. Whatever Ezequiel is their second album and is a concept album about a character called EZEQUIEL, and is a very rich album with a lot of instruments in it. Very folkish sometimes it remainds me of grabriel era GENESIS with Hacket-ish guitars by Juan Carlos Perez, the main songwriter and singer, and flute. Y rate this album with 4.5 becouse is perfect but the production is a little bit weak, but considering those years is near to perfect. Good songs good album, buy it you wouldn´t be unpleased.
Report this review (#22232)
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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.

Report this review (#102721)
Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is a very pleasant listen, with acoustic guitar and drums leading the way and lots of tasteful violin, sax and flute added throughout. The male vocals are reserved and are in Spanish, while there are female vocals on a couple of tracks.

"Ezekielen Prophezia" opens with some good electric guitar before settling with fragile male vocals. A beautiful section before 2 minutes including violin.The tempo picks up some. Lots of sax. This is great ! I really like "Ezekielen Esnatzea I" which opens (as most of the songs do)with acoustic guitar, as vocals and drums come in. There is some nice piano to follow with organ in the background. Some prominant bass when the vocals stop. Flute after 2 minutes as the organ continues floating in the background. Sax is up next then a long electic guitar solo. So the overall sound is of intricate and delicate instrumentals and not a wall of sound. "Ezekielen Esnatzea II" opens with acoustic guitar as other intricate sounds come in and then vocals. Nice sax solo 2 minutes in followed by flute then an organ / bass section as drums beat.

"Ezekial" opens with delicate acoustic guitar melodies then a childrens choir joins in. "Ezekielen Ikasgaia" opens with piano and acoustic guitar. Female vocals come in as the piano continues. Sax takes over for her vocals as organ, bass and drums support. Flute follows then piano then vocals and acoustic guitar return. "Ezekielen Ametsa" opens with acoustic guitar melodies before female vocals and piano take over. Flute follows. It blends into "Ezekielen Erantzuna" where violin joins the piano and drums. Acoustic guitar then male vocals follow. Sax later. Great song ! "Ezekiel: Ia Maitasun Kantu Bat" opens with violin as bass and flute join in. Male vocals with strummed acoustic guitar follows. The violin, bass and flute return. Electric guitar later.

This did remind me of some of the beautiful seventies Italian albums at times.Tracks one and seven standout from the rest for me. Not being the biggest Prog-Folk fan probably effects my rating here but there were some misses to go along with the hits.

Report this review (#107923)
Posted Thursday, January 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of a kind folk album that puts everything into a folk/rock fusion which may remind one of Goran Bregovic's works. This gypsy- style work not only has it all, but on top of it it adds a song, "Ezekielen ikasgaia", for which there is probably no way to find words to express the inner beauty of its melody and arrangements. Just listen to it, again and again. This is clearly Itoiz's most emotional album, but I would also easily recommend their very first one.
Report this review (#138740)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars An absolute delight of an album - blending folk influences with jazz and symphonic tendancies to create a unique flowing mix of uplifting prog-folk. The melodies are excellent and the playing superb - violin,flute,piano organ and guitar solos feature thorughout and are never less than excellent. An often inspiring and uplifting album - highly recommeded!
Report this review (#155725)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ezekiel is a very unique album, sung in Bask language, Itoiz performance makes that the singing stays as a complement (even that is not bad at all) and let the instruments to speak. You will know what I'm talking about once you hear it.

I compare Ezekiel with Les cinq saisons of Harmonium: Change the country, move yourself to Spain and to the folk of the Basque Region add drummings and you will see the path that this is going to take.

Ezekiel is a very uplifting album, easy to listen, but the fact that is easy -or not difficult prog- to listen, it does not mean that you won't find beautiful passages of progressiveness. And ladies and gentleman, there are incredible melodies that you will find very technical and full of colors and with feeling at the same time, making it one of the best folkish prog rock albums you will ever hear.

In Ezekiel, all the instruments take the lead role in one point of a song. But I would remark 3 instruments that will show you the beauty of this album: the piano organ, the saxophon, and that beauty I found when I met this genre, the flute. The flute is executed so good, I enjoy it a lot and maybe that's why I will rate this album very well. But, first things last.

I don't know what's the story of Ezekiel, but I assume is a concept album, watching that the whole is dedicate to him.

Ezekielen prophezia starts with the electric guitar and some drumming very good, but then the sax kicks in and the song sounds very cool-to say something-, then the vocals shows up, and to be honest, I find them accurate for this, I like it, maybe it's the fact that I applaude the courage for singing in your own language and still sounding good, or maybe just the pleasure of hearing other different language than english (not that I hate english); then, the first appearance of the flute, very calm and soft this time, and the violin sounding in the background, the song keeps going on, mixing now the sax with the vocals and drums, making this song very folk rock, at minute 3, the sax makes the solo, that the only thing you can do is to draw a smile in your face and tap your feet following the beat. At 3:40, the flute and the violin, and they both mix beautifully, the violin takes the lead role and the flute goes along with her, achieving a great finale. Excelent track.

Ezekielen Esnatzea. The first notes are from the acoustic guitar, inmediately, some hints of the piano organ and the vocals. The piano sounds more notable now at 1:10, and from that, takes the leadership, making its solo, until the minute 2:10 when appears the flute, that now shows us a softer and mysterious passages and keep leadering the song, tremendous solo! Suddenly the sax shows in and together the sound it's just unique. The electrical guitar shows up and take the control, all together with the bass and the drums. Yes, I know, what a mixture! and it's a lovely one! and it's not over, because the piano at minute 4: 35 kicks in and set the jazzy ambient with his solo. Marvelous!

Ezekielen Esnatzea. Once, the spanish acoustic guitar shows up. The Bask vocalist very calm sings some notes. the song follows that path until the saxophon appears and it's very delightful. A very touching solo. Then, the flute, oh god!, the flute! here the flute is at her best! Reminds some Camel or Focus, The tempo is excellent, the short -but deep- solo of the flute is really pleasent! After this magnificent piece, the organ demonstrates that also speaks and finishes the song, and now I have a remember of Genesis. Very good organ solo my basque friends!

Ezekiel. This is the acoustic and shortest song of the album. The acoustic guitar chords playing through the song makes it enjoyable. A children chorus singing Ezekiel completes the song. Not much to say about this song. It's like the time-to-breathe and sit back-and relax, like a bridge to the final part of the album; but anyhow a very soft uplifting and enjoyable track.

Ezekiel Ikasgaia. Well, this song is my song. Here you will find anything you were looking for in a folkish prog rock song. For real. The song starts with the acoustic guitar and piano. After 30 seconds, a good change: a female voice begins to sing in Basque of course, very pretty and soft voice with vibrato, I inmediately love it. The song remains in that vein with the singer and the piano goes along with her until the saxophon cracks up. And here it comes the deal: the wonderful solos of three instruments, first as I said, the sax, in the background the organ (genesis alike), then inmediately the flute takes the place, and now the sax in the background. To end, the piano enters and complete the melody with the drums, sax and organ in the background. But that's not the end. The female singer, continues singing but uses a little scatting, like gibberish accompanied by the piano at the background, I just love that scat, reminds hearing Aretha Franklin or Clare Torry, or more accurate, in Della Natura of Museo Rosenbach. So the whole song is an incredible jazzy folk song. I just close my eyes and let myself away. Extraordinary song.

Ezekielen Ametza and Erantzuna. For some reason that I don't know I have this two songs together. Acoustic guitar follows by the singing of what it seems a little girl; after that, the flute with a brief solo, but of course a pretty one, Camel influence is notable. The song speeds up a little bit wit the piano, the acoustic guitar and the violin, and the voice of the male singer starts. Great performance of this guy, at the middle of the song a melancholyc sax shows up for a while, then the acoustic guitar makes a good solo. The songs flows perfectly once again with the singer and at the end the sax solo accompanied for the piano. Another wonderful track.

Ezekielen: la maitasun kantu bat. The sound of a freight train starts this track. Few seconds later, the violin sounds and the flute and sax do it a little bit later. The singing for the male singer. The flute sounds in some moments, spectacular as usual. The flute and the acoustic guitar take the control in the middle of the song, slowly the electric guitar appears for brief moments, also the violin, as the organ. The flute still the leader of this song. for the end of the song, the electrical guitar owns the song with a solo to end fading out, finishing a very, very enjoyable and once again, uplifting album

So, I have no other choice but to rate this album with 5 stars. Highly recommended and must for any prog fan..



Report this review (#159659)
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
5 stars While Itoiz' debut was an instantly likable major folk effort with a concentrated minor in symphonic progressive, their sophomore offering is far more eclectic and much harder to penetrate. In addition to a cornucopia of instruments such as electric and acoustic piano and guitar, flutes, organs, violins, and saxophones, and the reappearance of superb voices of both genders, the album's sprawling canvas incorporates several new styles for the group, particular jazzy elements. You could be excused for doubting this kitchen sink approach, because very few bands could pull this off with the skill and vision demonstrated herein. Your upfront investment will be rewarded manifold.

The general pattern of many of the tracks, such as the first three, is a song orientation followed by extensive instrumental excursions featuring the group's full arsenal, and providing for continued discovery over the course of many airings. Of particular note are the rich saxes and organ in "Ezekielen esnatzea II". The pent-up energy that had been withheld during the Franco years remained fully operative throughout this sophomore album. The approach is continued on "Ezekielen ikasgaia" where electric piano substitutes for organ, except the vocals are feminine and at times acrobatic in their versatility. Many folk orientations remain, generally paired with massed or individual children's voices, such as on the title cut and "Ezekielen ametsa". This apparent innocence is egged on by divine flutes even as it is belied by the accessible complexity of the compositions and arrangements.

If I had to choose a favourite, it would probably be the penultimate cut "Ezekielen erantzuna", which casts a sly eye back to the first album without sacrificing the newly found maturity. In addition, it boasts some stunning acoustic guitar work. The backing keyboards are hypnotic, and what sounds like violin sets just a slightly Eastern European - or is it Arabic - mood. This is wisely carried over to the closer, which is highlighted by some stellar lead guitar work.

This is a uniformly consistent album and perhaps the masterpiece of the Basque progressive folk movement. It is a sequence of songs that propose and deliver an indivisible unit, which is nirvana for most progressive fans. My highest and unflinching recommendation.

Report this review (#194701)
Posted Monday, December 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars An outstanding album from the Basque Country. And specially meritorious if we notice that during the early 80's, Spanish music was not at its best: due to the euphoria of having escaped from the censorship that ruled until 1975, Spanish musicians were occupied composing dead easy techno-pop songs, with a notable lack of any melodical or lyrical preoccupation. It was the spirit of the 80's glam but augmented until grotesque limits of childish lyrics and monotony.

In the middle of this totally banal scene, Itoitz release their Ezekiel album. Not everything about it is perfect: if I had had the possibility, I would have chosen another lead singer, as Pérez's voice is somewhat weak, although it has similarities to some italian symphonic singers. On every other aspect the album is nearly flawless. The folky acoustic guitars that get electrified to perform some memorable solos; a sometimes funky-ish and always great-sounding bass; a constant melodic keyboard background; a flute à la Jethro Tull and the notorious jazz influences.

Something obvious when hearing Ezekiel is that, despite being a complex opus with a milimetrically care about instrumentation, it features relatively short and easy-listening songs. In fact, the album is not very long, and it seems to be even shorter because of the fluidity that characterise the compositions.

If I had to describe Ezekiel with just a word, it would undoubtlely be beautiful. In this sense, when I hear Ezekiel, it brings me to my mind that Harmonium's Si On Avait Une Cinquième Saison. The instrumentation is not so unlike in both albums, and they both show a brilliant and, in my opinion, optimistical sound, with a beauty that is impossible to hear in many other albums.

Report this review (#205696)
Posted Saturday, March 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have heard about this band for a long time, but this is my first ever foray into their world.

This is their second album and one which is highly regarded in our community. The music is based in folk music, but there is also strong hints of Camel in their music. I reviewed all the the four albums by the Catalan band Herba Hameli last year and they comes across as a good reference. Well, Itoiz is an obvious reference for Herba Hameli although they are based in two different parts of Spain and in different cultures again. Spain is more a federation of nations than a nation or even a country. Itoiz is from the long suffering Basque region in Spain. OK, I am off on a non musical journey here, but I cannot deny I find Spain a fascinating theme and place.

Music wise...... yes, that's what this is about.... I have to remind myself..... music wise, the music here is flute, acoustic guitar (Spanish guitars ?) and Hammond organ based with some good vocals inbetween. The music is very folky sung in the local Basque language. The music is very good. My gripes is the lack of some real killer tracks and some pieces which would make me say "this can only be Itoiz". Hence, I am not of the view that this is an excellent addition to my record collection and it will get a more remote storage, I am afraid. But I would still recommend this album to any folk rock fan. I am not so there we go.

3.25 stars

Report this review (#394028)
Posted Friday, February 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars A beautifull album from this Spanish band of seventies. This band blew the Basque ethnic music with progressive rock. The result of this merger was the realization of a very beautiful album and maybe one of the best of its kind. Who said that the Prog Folk is not pretty and it is boring and dull? Ezekiel is proof that there are many excellent albums in this context. Very harmonious with newly introduced moments in music, which means that the hearing is an adventure. Choirs, guitars and beautiful arrangements make this album one of the most beautiful Prog Folk. A masterpiece for those who like the fusion of ethnic music with rock and recommend a careful hearing I give 5 stars because it's really a masterpiece
Report this review (#763260)
Posted Monday, June 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars A must for fans of prog-folk.

Good compositions expressed with acoustic and electric guitars sublimely supported by piano, flute, saxophone, violin and keyboards. Interesting collaboration of bass and drums, very rhythmic and protagonists.

I do not understand the Basque language is not familiar to me. But this does not prevent you from enjoying the quality of the material. The voices are those that add the main native touch. It contains a good mix of Italian and English folklore, Spanish featureless, as might be flamenco. No relation to their distant cousins ​​Triana, Veneno or Mezquita, musically speaking.

Haizea, and his work Hontz Gaia is another good option similar but more mysticism than this and more psychedelic.

Report this review (#996342)
Posted Thursday, July 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hailing from the Basque region of Spain, Itoiz' second album Ezekiel is, as the name implies, a concept album based on the Biblical stories about the prophet Ezekiel. Significantly, the band sing in the Basque language, taking advantage of the new freedoms Spain was enjoying after the recent fall of the fascist regime which had ruled it from the 1930s to the 1970s - under Franco, the different regions of Spain were discouraged from expressing aspects of local culture which were seen as affirming their differences with other regions of Spain, and the Basque language in particular was frowned on.

Itoiz exploit this opportunity to express their culture to the hilt, fusing Basque folk and progressive rock in a distinctive musical vision. Yet, at the same time, the prog side of the equation tends to let the side down from time to time: a tendency to be stuck in the past and plough furrows already exhausted both by folk prog bands outside Spain and Itoiz' flamenco rock contemporaries make the rock side of this folk-rock balance sound somewhat dated once you get past the novelty of the Basque lyrics.

Report this review (#1071236)
Posted Sunday, November 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Itoiz is a prog folk band from the Basque Region of Spain. This is the folk side of prog folk, yet it has a very strong jazzy flavor with its flutes, fiddles, saxophones, and pianos joining the acoustic guitars, electric bass, drum kit, and, of course, vocals. Try listening to the following YouTube links: 2. "Ezekielen Esnatzea" (6:02); 5. "Ezekielen Ikasgaia" (6:30); 6. "Ezekielen Ametsa + Ezekielen Erantzuna" (6:10), and; 8. "Ezekiel: Ia maitasun kantu bat" (5:51).

1. "Ezekielen Prophezia" (5:10) (8/10)

2. "Ezekielen Esnatzea I" (6:01) Nice electric guitar solo. (8.5/10)

3. "Ezekielen Esnatzea II" (4:37) awesome plaintive pastoral opening with a weave of violin, guitar, keyboard and bass. Multiple voices work their way into the weave for a minute before a solo sax takes the lead and the weave smooths out and a blues-rock rhtyhm foundation takes over. Breathy, fast-flitting flute takes over at 2:45, Wurlitzer organ at 3:30. (9/10)

4. "Ezekiel" (3:01) excellent acoustic guitar picking opens this one until a stop at 0:40 signals the entry of the Etorkizuna Children's choir with support from strumming mandolin and picking guitar. Interesting, though the power and melodies of the choir are not as high until the softening and cheering in the third minute. Still, cool song. (9/10)

5. "Ezekielen Ikasgaia" (6:29) picked acoustic guitar is joined by piano (very well recorded, btw) before laying scant support for the operatic voice of mezzo soprano Itziar Egileor. Nice melodies and song arrangement. At 2:30 there is a radical shift into organ-rock band playing a soulful support to solos from alto sax, flute, and electric piano. At 4:27 we return to the opening section of acoustic guitar to support Itziar--this time without piano! Basss and violin and then drums join in as song gets very expressive, vocal becomes very jazzy with some very cool and unusual scatting. Very classy, polished song. Great sound engineering. (9.75/10)

6. "Ezekielen Ametsa" (1:52) solo acoustic guitar intro for a "little girl" vocal and child-like upper register piano support which then turns into Fender Rhodes rock band song to bleed into the next song. (5/5)

7. "Ezekielen Erantzuna" (4:17) carried over from the previous song, the Fender is strong but a very active rhythm section makes for an interesting contrast to the rather bland male vocal over the top. Acoustic guitar solo in the middle before vocals are doubled up for the second half. Now this is cool! Sax and organ join in for solo coupled with electric piano solo to close. (9/10)

8. "Ezekiel: Ia Maitasun Kanta Bat" (5:49) railroad noises before a violin defines the pace and melody for a bass-heavy folk reel. Violin, flute, and sax performing a wave to support the lead melody before cutting out at 1:02. Strummed guitar supports animated lead vocal from Juan Carlos Pérez. Bass and intermittent drum and cymbal support before flute-sax-violin weave fills the instrumental interludes between vocal verses. Weird electric guitar enters around 3:20, providing metronomic counterpoint to everything else going on. I find it annoying. Luckily, it leaves for the fifth minute. Screaming electric guitar solo starts at 4:40 and persists to the end over the jamming musicians beneath. (9/10)

Total time 37:16

4.5 stars; a wonderful example of Prog Folk coming from the Iberian Peninsula, particularly refreshing for its representation of a very specific regional folk tradition (and language).

Report this review (#1705828)
Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 | Review Permalink

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