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IZUKAITZ

Prog Folk • Spain


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Izukaitz biography
This fiery 6-piece Basque outfit from the mid-70's released a couple of folk-prog albums similar in style to STEELEYE SPAN, PENTANGLE and FAIRPORT CONVENTION. They integrate many progressive elements to their sound (especially on their second album) but their material is predominantly folk, with male and female vocalists alternately singing solo or in chorus. As compared to many Spanish folk bands, however, IZUKAITZ make comparatively minor use of percussion. Instead, they'll treat you to the usual guitar/keyboard/bass set with some flute and fiddle, plenty of acoustic guitar, some percussion as well as local (Basque) instruments such as goxoak and xirula.

Their first (eponymous) album is not exactly progressive but it is still an excellent piece of pure Celtic folk with some rock tinges; predominantly acoustic, its electric elements are reduced to a few bass and keyboard lines. On the other hand, the sizzling "Otsoa Dantzan" is truly a prog-folk album, its atmosphere lying somewhere between latin psychedelic-folk and the medieval folk of GRYPHON. Overall, the album sounds a lot like ITOIZ's first album.

Recommended to fans of ITOIZ, PENTANGLE, FAIRPORT CONVENTION, GRYPHON and particularly STEELEYE SPAN.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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Otsoa Dantzan by IzukaitzOtsoa Dantzan by Izukaitz
Elkar Xoxoa
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GUERSSEN
Vinyl$25.00 (used)
IzukaitzIzukaitz
Elkar Xoxoa 2011
Audio CD$15.99
izukaitz LPizukaitz LP
GUERSSEN
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IZUKAITZ discography


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IZUKAITZ top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 5 ratings
Izukaitz
1978
3.17 | 6 ratings
Otsoa Dantzan
1980

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IZUKAITZ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Otsoa Dantzan  by IZUKAITZ album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Otsoa Dantzan
Izukaitz Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars ''Izukaitz'' did not have a great success regarding its sales and even according to the band's members they maybe hurried a bit to publish their first work.During the summer of 79' Izukaitz played in a number of music festivals around the Basque country and in September 79' they started working on their second album with a refreshed line-up.Bassist Jesus Mari Aranburu and guitarist Bixente Martinez surrounded the remaining trio of Kruzeta, Lasuen and Aurelio Martinez and in 1980 the second effort ''Otsoa dantzan'' saw the light, again on the Xoxoa label.

This sophomore work of Izukaitz follows a more progressive mold, even if the style of the band remains largely acoustic with strong Basque Folk influences and limited rockin' content.However the album contains plenty of interesting interplays between acoustic guitars, flutes and violins, creating rich, traditional soundscapes, as most of the tracks appear to be reworkings of old Basque songs.The few moments with the presence of electric guitars appear to have an evident psychedelic and outdated sound, which still sounds interesting next to the heavy display of acoustic interplays.Some of the tracks retain the intense, poetic nature of the band's debut, based on ethereal female and more lyrical male voices, which is pretty good in my books.There are obvious attempts by the band to deliver a more diverse and intricate approach at moments: Light piano lines, slight symphonic influences, scarce sax melodies and more stretched instrumental ideas are offered in the album.However ''Otsoa dantzan'' is heavily grounded in the Basque Folk tradition and its progressive content relies mostly on the excellent interplays between the instrumentalists.

By the time the interest of the audience for Folk Rock and the lack of appropriate fields for live appearances seem to have affected the group's future, even if the new album was warmly received by the press.Izukaitz continued their way into more electric explorations, adding even some jazzy lines in their sound, but their supposedly third work was reputedly recorded but never released.Internal tensions between the members eventually led to the disbanding of the group in 1981.

Decent Folk Rock with lovely interplays and expressive vocals.More balanced than their rather lyrical debut and a recommended work, especially for fans of more traditional listenings.

 Otsoa Dantzan  by IZUKAITZ album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Otsoa Dantzan
Izukaitz Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars This second and final production of IZUKAITZ is somewhat more significant from a progressive perspective than their debut. Occupying the Venn Diagram intersection of STEELEYE SPAN, TRI YANN, and ITOIZ, they lack the potency of the former, the engaging personality of the second, and the haunting and lucid songwriting of the latter.

Again, I have no beef with the group's playing and even singing. Tracks 3,4 and the finale are especially strong, and the keyboards along with the pipes, fiddles, whistles, and enthusiastically strummed acoustic guitars, occasionally transcend musical boundaries into a realm we can only call prog, even if Track 5 veers decidedly into new age posturepedic territory. It's the staying power of the material that I continue to call on the carpet - for an ostensibly timeless genre, most of the music of IZUKAITZ is as ephemeral as the most transitory of pop. Perhaps they really play a live style which needs to be experienced with all the senses, but I doubt we will ever know.

This disk has the potential to be a hit with those who enjoy sprightly traditional music that acknowledges the significance of the progressive rock of the time without fully absorbing it. It's the recommended IZUKAITZ album, and warrants 2.5 stars, but I am rounding down due to aforementioned weaknesses.

 Izukaitz  by IZUKAITZ album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.05 | 5 ratings

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Izukaitz
Izukaitz Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars As befits the Basque location and influences, the work of IZUKAITZ in their debut album seems a cross between Celtic, in the melodies and instrumentation, and world music, especially in the percussion and jazzy colours. It's intriguing and, on paper, promises a unique vision and an essential listen.

I discern lovely flutes, fiddles, melodies, harmonies, pleasantly airy keyboards, and a whiff of prog. A Basque FAIRPORT, PENTANGLE, STEELEYE, and even early HOELDERLIN might be an apt comparison. But it's almost as if we don't speak the same language, which is true, but I mean musically. I don't feel a lot of emotional connection to any of it. It's like a partner who should be the one but just doesn't speak to our soul, and no amount of logic and reasoning can help.

This is all good, but no more, a gently accomplished bland blend of folk done better by others of their ilk. Virtually unknown, only their Basque pedigree qualifies them for larger recognition even as it obfuscates the same. IZUKAITZ might be your cup of tea, but it simply fails to excite me or provide any reason for a return visit.

 Izukaitz  by IZUKAITZ album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.05 | 5 ratings

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Izukaitz
Izukaitz Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars This is yet another mostly unheard of seventies folk outfit that’s not really particularly progressive but will likely appeal to most progressive folk fans anyway. Their main distinguishing characteristic is the fact that they come from the Basque area of Spain and all their vocals are sung in that strange tongue. In addition the band employs several

The album opens with pizzicato violin notes on “Zikiro Beltza”, so right off the bat you know you’re in for something folksy and not particularly reverent. I’ve rarely seen a violinist pluck strings on a tune without that tune being something that makes you smile. And the violin is one of the more prominent instruments throughout the album, along with a wooden flute and all manner of percussive hand instruments. One note about the flute: there are at least two woodwinds here, the flute and a txirula, the latter of which is some sort of Basque flute-like contraption. I’m not sure which is which when listening to the music, but one has more range and the other seems to have a more melodic tone to it. The band seem to like their woodwinds, because there’s also heavy use of an alboka throughout, another Basque traditional instrument that looks a bit like a fox hunt horn but is wooden (or maybe bone) so obviously has a softer sound.

Like I said these are really ethnic folk tunes, so the tendencies are toward rather melodic music that is heavy on the hand drums and other percussion, pretty upbeat, and overall earthy-sounding since most of the instrumentation is acoustic. If that’s the kind of music you’re into then you’ll undoubtedly enjoy this album.

The first half of the album comprises the more upbeat and percussive tunes and female vocals, while the back half features less percussion and seems to focus more on acoustic guitar strumming, picking, and male vocals. There are a few interesting curios as well. The opening riff and arrangement of “Xori Bele” sounds an awful lot like “Oye Como Va”; the violin and flute on “Xalbadorrena” take on a decidedly Celtic tone; and for some reason the band chooses the closing number “Agur” to introduce a piano as the featured instrument, along with a female/male vocal duet that results in something closer to a contemporary pop number than a folk work. I don’t really care for that particular tune, but the rest of the album is solid.

The original vinyl issue was on some unknown Spanish label and I doubt you’ll ever find one. This was reissued on vinyl in limited edition and those are a bit pricey as well, but there’s also the Elkar CD reissue which is more reasonably priced. That one has some sort of glitch on a couple of tracks those, and I believe this was a result of an error made in copying the master tapes used to produce the CD.

I don’t know much about these guys and nothing about the Basque culture or language so I’m sure there are all kinds of nuances here that are lost on someone like me. But despite that the music here is quite good, very well-played, and interesting on many levels. I’m torn between three and four stars here, and whenever that happens it seems appropriate to err on the side of the artist so four stars it is. Recommended for prog folk and world music fans.

peace

 Otsoa Dantzan  by IZUKAITZ album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Otsoa Dantzan
Izukaitz Prog Folk

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This album was my first introduction to the Basque folk music genre, which is yet mostly a mystery to me. I'm not sure how representative album "Otsoa Dantzan" is in the style of this genre, but after some cautious tasting I must admit that I like this record quite much! Judging with non-professional understanding on just basis of this album, it seems that the Basque traditional music elements have interacted with other European traditional musical styles, as the themes run on familiar sounding scales and the thematic structures don't sound very foreign when compared. There only very little connections to any kind of "rock music" here, maybe only occasional amplified electric basses and acoustic guitars. I have not heard their first album, but I have understood that their first "Izukaitz" titled record has more rock elements in it. In addition of joyful medieval sounding tunes there are also some ethereal passages, little resembling the moody floating of some ECM label jazz records. The album is opened by "Ingurutxu"; A happy flute and guitar interplay conjured by bright sounding percussion. A male voice announces the changes of the song parts which bring interesting rhythmic content to the composition. The melodic themes are quite comprehensive with many details. "Katu Beltza. Txalopin Txalo" introduces the lovely female voice bringing forth delightful melodic passage along with violin and flute following the guitar chord progressions' rhythms. Later male voice enter, and in the end all singers present and final chorus, preceded by a faster guitar/violin/flute theme. "Ni Hiltzen naizenean" builds up from vocal chorus, and I think the theme is some kind of "battle song". This theme is varied with violin backed up with guitar, later joined by the fiddle, and these sequences are repeated three times. "Karrakan Trakatan" is one of my favorites here with the second track, having a nice raw amplified acoustic guitar running aggressive scales. Later percussion, pipes (some of the Basque instruments?) and singing join the song.

"Prakamanen Itsasoan" is enriched with sounds of distant waves, and the fragile composition builds up from beautiful piano and flute notes, creating a dreamy landscape, pleasing me highly. "Ilhun-Nabarrez" has a nice melody by a fiddle. A medieval European sounding flute melody introduces the singers and an acoustic guitar and violin. This number is more based on repeating pretty melodies than many other more detailed numbers on this record, and this is a very pretty song too, having a nice saxophone solo in it. "Ariniketan Arin" is a fast violin driven number with percussion, male vocals and neat fast acoustic guitar playing. The last song "Hilbehera" is the longest track of the album, running seven and a half minutes. It starts with bagpipe sounding fine melody (the mysterious for me Basque invention?), slowly gaining more layers of different instruments. Later the song transforms to resemble very much the softer parts of the first track of the album, bringing front fabulous flute passages. Then there are some great amplified acoustic guitar solo pickings. In the end there are the only rock/jazz drumming of the whole album, making the music sound like more conventional 1970's flute driven folk prog. In addition of the authentic Basque instruments used here (with exotic sounding names in the musician list, goxoak & xirula for example), I don't know the Basque language either. But still I'm able to enjoy the aesthetical qualities and feelings which this album creates, and I would recommend it warmly to anybody interested of European traditional artistic folk music! I also predict that this won't be the only and last Basque folk album I'm going to check out.

 Izukaitz  by IZUKAITZ album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.05 | 5 ratings

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Izukaitz
Izukaitz Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

This group is among the few Basque groups that found artistic freedom with the end of Franco's regime, and managed to express themselves in their own culture (no-one is really sure where the Basque's language came from, but it is like no other European language) and clearly took advantage of their newfound freedom. Along with Haizea, Itoiz, Itziar and Errobi, Izukaitz is part of the essential poker hand of folk groups (all five being (or will be) in the archives under prog folk for obvious reasons) that blossomed in the late 70's and enchanted most folkies in those rather hard times - by now most folk purists had accepted the rock elements in their music.

Their very naive artwork depicting their acoustic (except for the bass and the odd bit of guitars) sprouting from the ground depicts the music fairly accurately, enhanced even further by the relative absence of percussions and the Basque lyrics. A lot of these tracks (all originals) have a little déjà-entendu feel, using all of the trad European folk (so far from the three I have heard none of them as a particular Basque musical particularity that would sound as typically Basque) a bit in the Celtic or medieval manner (especially the third and seventh track), with jigs and rounds, and the almost obligatory dual male/female vocals but also more reflective moods - and this is where it gets interesting!!! Hala Bate, the album's finale Agur, Lo Hago, and the album centrepieces Xori Bele and Jarrai are all excellent tracks with sometimes haunting melodies.

In case you are wondering on D-E Asbjornsen's advice on this album in his book, Scented Garden Of The Minds, I heard nothing wrong with the transfer even if the sound is not of remastered quality. A worthy effort, and if folk is your trip, a real must.

 Otsoa Dantzan  by IZUKAITZ album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Otsoa Dantzan
Izukaitz Prog Folk

Review by iosu

4 stars After reading the review about this album, I thought it could be some kind of folkish Itoiz, but it reaches the limit of what I could call progressive. I wouldn´t define it as a prog-rock album, it lacks electric instruments and percusion (there aren´t any drums) and even the lyrics show the folk side of the group. In conclusion: near from folk and far from prog. There is no reason to think that fans of Itoiz could like it.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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