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Itoiz - Itoiz CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.83 | 62 ratings

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4 stars The debut album from these talented Basque-Spanish musicians. The folk songs and lyrics here are firmly immersed within rock elements, start to finish.

1. "Phuntzionariat" (3:40) sounds a bit like a foreign cover Zager and Evans' "In the Year 2525." Nice embellishments by the flutist and the drummer. Definitely a prog song--especially in that wonderful final minute. (8.875/10)

2. "Goizeko Deihadar" (9:58) opens sounding like a British pop song from the 60s. In the third minute things ramp up into a driving blues rock jam with some nice electric guitar soloing and poppy British choral vocal work. In the fourth minute, then, we move into CAMEL territory with a synth-backed, cruising bass-supported, electric guitar jam. Great motif! Continues to evolve with new motifs while integrating the previous ones quite adeptly. I don't really like the near-disco/80s techno pop predictor in the ninth and tenth minutes but it's still good. Overall, the song feels a bit rushed--as if the band is trying a bit too hard--but what can you expect from a first album from a bunch of youthful enthusiasts? (18/20)

3. "Zati Txiki Bat La M'En" (1:54) what sounds like a more traditional acoustic folk song. Nice three-part vocal arrangements. Nice song but nothing extraordinary. (4.333/5)

4. "Lau Teilatu (4:02) opens with Gordon Lightfoot-like acoustic guitar picking before sole voice enters front and center in what sounds and feels like a ballad presentation. Relaxing, engaging, and quite polished--with a very confident and pleasant lead vocal. Piano adds a nice touch in the final third. (8.875/10)

5. "Hilzori I" (7:08) delicately picked acoustic guitar is joined/backed by piano and then, in the second go round, flute, each setting forth the main melody. In the second minute a pause allows the solo piano to set up the classically-based folk rock motif that launches a few seconds later. Everybody slows down as Juan Carlos sings (in a bit of an unsteady/pitchy voice) before ELOY-like prog soundscape sets up. The Hammond is quite prominent through all of this despite the continued presence of the piano. Flute and cymbals play over arpeggiating piano in the second half as a more extended rock jam plays out. Electric guitar begins to add his two cents to the mix, not quite weaving with the others but going where he thinks he should go; not a smooth mix. (13.25/15)

6. "Hilzori II" (4:36) really a continuation of the previous song, only separated by a shift in dynamics. The harmonized vocal arrangements continue, feeling a bit out of sorts on the bottom end. The swirling Hammond arpeggi, constant flights of high flute, and delicate cymbal play are effective support animals and the sliding guitar notes in the final solo cool, but the fast-changing TULL-like finish is the highpoint. (8.75/10)

7. "Foisis Jauna" (3:13) more boisterous in a Martin Cockerham/SPIROGYRA kind of way. (8.6667/10)

8. "Astelehen Urdin Batean" (5:48) more constructed as a soft jazz-pop kind of song--despite the extended narration in the middle--this one is hypnotically melodic but slightly off from what might be a chart-topper. (8.75/10)

Total time 40:19

If it weren't for the inconsistent quality of the vocal performances (and arrangements) I might very well uphold this album above the band's followup--which is considered by many to be their masterpiece.

B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially if you like rock-supercharged ethnic folk.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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