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Sakre - Bitzitako Gauzak CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Sakre is a standard prog quartet came from the Tolosa (40 Km southwest from Donostia) in the eastern province of the Basque region and released their sole album in the spring of 1978. Their hard symphonic prog, mixed with strong folk roots is a bit unusual for Basque groups of that time, which usually concentrated on different sorts of folk rock; as far as this writer is concerned they were the only one developing a strong rock (almost hard rock) except for Lisker's eponymous album. Released on one of the two unavoidable Basque label Elkar, the album is coming with a strange Felicien Rops reproduction artwork.

Sakre's sole album is a conceptual one with both sides presenting as multi-movement suites, with each part incremented clearly, but melding into each other, Starting on the mega short but super folk Errenberrentzia, the album quickly reaches its cruising speed on a loud guitar (tearing us away from the piccolo of the fist movement) in Orain, imposing a very loud hard rock, that reminds of some Status Quo. After such extreme, one really wonders where the album is heading, but with Oroitzapenak (souvenirs), it is taking its final shape: a symphonic rock that draws more on the French School than on the Italo-Spanish school. Indeed you can hear some Pulsar or Carpe Diem, with calm synth lines underlining the good pedestrian bass, an inventive drum style and this again loud guitar. When the synths are not used Aramburu gets his growling organ in swing in Ezengaino (Disillusions). The side- closing Bakardadea (Solitude) starts slowly on electric guitar arpeggios, before Aranburu's electric piano takes over, slowly leading us to unison chants and a gradual build-up with bass first then finally drums enter. Once the whole group gets going Aramburu switches to his ARP synth, while guitarist Mezquita pulls a superb lengthy solo. This 7-mins+ track is one of two highlights on this side of the album, with Oroitzapenak, ending this first almost 20-mins suite in a superb manner.

The flipside starts a bit more strangely on a wind and wave intro, with a monologue from Death (the track's name is Call Of Death), before a drone leads us into Erantzuna (response) and a very upbeat bass rhythm supporting a string synth and a jumpy guitar. As Dust (Izarren Hautsa) settled, a harp-like guitar picks up gently laying foundations to a crystal-clear singing (as usual with the Basque, very Italian-like delivery) giving another good swing in the album constant twists and turns. The two-part movement Guduan Jarrai (Ongoing Combat) is the flipside's highlight with its almost 7 minutes, starting on a piano and electric guitar duo, soon joined by the rhythm section and climaxing early in the track. If on the first side Sakre sounded more like Pulsar, I find that on this side, Yes seems to be a bit more influential than Carpe Diem or Shylock. The closing Bilatzea (meeting) is a very Anderson-ian way to close a lengthy track, with a slightly irritating high voice that is less natural than Jon's.

Sakre's sole album (roughly translating in Things/Events Lived) is a very singular Basque oeuvre, coming fairly late in the 70's (as did the whole Spanish scene), and it's not very representative of the Basque scene, but nevertheless we have a very honest (and sometimes charming) album of symphonic prog, but nothing essential on an international scale, but if you care to discover the Basque scene, they're a worthy detour. Not sure this album ever received a legit Cd reissue.

Report this review (#158810)
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Sakre would seem to be the wildebeest of the Basque world, with bits and pieces of some of the more established groups from the area as well as international prog of the time. The variety in sounds is somewhat appealing at face value but, along with an abundance of less than engaging material, ultimately detracts from the overall enjoyment of the work.

Most of the highs are hit on the first side of the original disk, specifically the opening apparently uncredited work on some type of flute or whistle; the somewhat ITOIZ influenced "Oroitzapenak", with well exercised lead guitar solo and lots of string synths; and the lengthiest track, "Bakardadea". It's a highly symphonic suite with melodic guitars and electric piano, and is really the cornerstone of the Sakre oeuvre. The vocals are generally competent.

The remainder is a bit too cold, dense and unstructured, from the spoken intro to the jams with contrived alternate bursts of keys and guitars. The brief vocal section on "Erantzuna", and its resulting riff, offer a rare reprieve. "Izaren Hautsa" again conjures ITOIZ, but an inferior version, which still isn't bad. "Gurduaren" is the best thing going, but it's really mostly expounding upon what has already been said earlier and better.

In the realm of Basque progressive rock, Sakre was but a small player. Having only one release, they did not do what they had to in order to achieve at least a degree of posthumous recognition, even if the recording contains a fair number of small highlights and one excellent track. 2.5 stars rounded down.

Report this review (#201152)
Posted Friday, January 30, 2009 | Review Permalink

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