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3 stars Well, I'll try to write English. This band from the Basque Country has become a cult-band in its country. The progressive-folk influences of the two first albums (Itoiz and Ezekiel) begin to turn into pop, but the mix between them is clever. Songs like "Hire bideak" sound like prog-rock, while "Herri neurak" or "Lanbrora" seem to flirt with mainstream. But the atmosphere of this album is bright and homogen. The magic of bask language works. I'm from the Basque Country, and I speak bask, so my vision and hearing of this band will be very different than yours ; lyrics are here still poetic, and sometimes surrealistic, but slightly turn into a more urban and modern style. For the next albums, Itoiz will abandon prog-rock, and record 3 pop LPs, that will become classics of the bask modern music.
Report this review (#40365)
Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Itoiz's third album Alkolea is considered their last classic album and while not as stupendous as Ezekiel, it follows the same trail, albeit not being as bold and daring on the broken ground by its predecessor. One of the explanations is the extended line-up fluctuation, where only three members remain from Ezekiel: leader and chief composer Carlos (of course) and keyboardist Fernandez are the only mainstays. While Itoiz lost the essential flutist Erkiaga (still present, they regain original bassist Garate while the Jiminez brothers have been "ditched" for others. A very sober artwork, even if the inside CD booklet present the same railway imagery of Ezekiel, this album is incredibly good in regards to its release date of 82.

After a great opener, the album gets in the thick of things with the absolute stunner 8-min+ Hire Bideak (happy trails), where the level of Ezekiel is easily duplicated, drawing chills down your spine. Coupled with Errotaberri, the first side of the album is enchanting, almost fascinating and near perfect, the other two tracks although not as flashy, being of a good folk calibre.

Unfortunately the rockier Lanbrora ruins a bit the delicate progress of the album, with an almost country rock feel. Not any better is the ill-advised Marilyn track, which falls a bit like a fly in your soup. Luckily the album is saved by the closing tracks, which return to the standard of what we expect from Itoiz. Both Herri Neurak (popular streets) and Eroa Nazan (going crazy) will take you back towards the debut album. In some ways, a good part of the tracks of the album could sound like the better classic Supertramp songs sung by Rick Davies. The short closer is another candy for the proghead.

While obviously not as perfect as the unreachable Ezekiel, had alkolea done away with two bad tracks and replaced them with more typical songs of theirs, this album would probably be better than the debut also. Due to its exceptional quality (in regards to its late release date of 82), this album is very much worth the investment. Start with Ezekiel, though.

Report this review (#127677)
Posted Friday, July 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars In between "Ezekiel" and "Alkolea", it would seem that Itoiz spent too much time listening to Supertramp, and their effort suffers as a consequence. Primarily they adopt Supertramp's dogged insistence on milking a mildly good idea until it is more than spent, and heaping repetitive oh's and ah's and na's on top of it in a vain effort to sound hip. This can be heard in the poor opener but also mars "Ixilik Egon Hadi...Ixiliki!" and ""Herri Neurak", both of which could have been far better without those "embellishments".

The delicate balance of consistently strong material broken, "Alkolea" has a few other significant problems, like the runaway "Hire Bideak" which further acts against any cohesion even if it shows some potential and hot playing. Both "Lanbrora" and "Marilyn" are relatively dull tracks that are the not the equal of anything on "Ezekiel", reminding me at turns of James Taylor or Janis Joplin. The disappearance of female vocals, the harsher and overdone lead guitars, and the general lack of textural quality make "Alkolea" a disappointment.

To be fair, "Errotaberri" and "Eroa Nazan" are both top shelf. Here the melodies and lyricism are sparkling, and seem to blend the best of both of the previous two albums. "Errotaberri" is enhanced by string like keys and here the lead guitars and saxes suit the music much better. The bass and organs on "Eroa Nazan" play to the group's strengths.

While "Ezekiel" seems to sparkle whenever unleashed, "Alkolea" actually sounds like a much less talented and focused sibling, and seems the worse for wear. Without the unbroken string of fine songs working together as one, this is just a very uneven collection. 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Report this review (#194839)
Posted Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars Itoiz is a band from Basque Country, Spain and they used the dialect of the place, not really Spanish. It's a great mix of Prog Folk, in fact it is REALLY great.

I always say that, and maybe sometimes I sound too boring and repetitive. But I really wished that more bands were using this kind of sound production during the 80's. Some albums weren't that bad, but production usually killed most of them.

Alkolea (1982) is a hell of an album with many interesting bits to make you feel full and content.

There's a 2009 CD edition that you can still find a copy!

Report this review (#744208)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | Review Permalink

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