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Magdalena - Lanean Sartzen CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.91 | 15 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars While the first two ITOIZ releases are more "important" than this overlooked effort, I actually derive more enjoyment from MAGDALENA than any Basque release I have heard. It boasts that all too elusive blend of depth and instant likability that is the holy grail of the whole subgenre for me. From the first listen it is so appealing in its melodies, vocals and arrangements, while inviting further exploration.

Only recently in compiling the group bio did I discover that no keyboards were anywhere near the recording of this disk. Now, for me good prog needs both guitars and keys...a disk with only one is like a single sock. It might theoretically be of value but in practice it sits in the bottom drawer. Somehow, MAGDALENA succeeds in providing the counterpoint to THREE lead guitars with delightfully warm flute escapades, and the use of crisp tingling acoustic guitars also contrasts pleasantly with the fuzzy leads. Now you may well relate the band's makeup to one of their contemporaries - LISKER - and you would not be far wrong. At some level they are closely allied, but they are also opposite sides of the same coin, and we know how different those can be. While LISKER solved their problems using the brute force algorithm, MAGDALENA's head and heart were connected, making "Lanean Sartzen" a far more sophisticated and restrained proposition, while avoiding any elitism or predictability.

The band excels most on the longest tracks, where their rather unique blend of the Basque and Castilian co-exist, separated by the sort of creative bridges that are needed to bring cultures together. These tend to be the tracks with some vocals but plenty of time for band togetherness. "Encontrar La Llave/Lamento/Encontrar La Llave" is a suite that begins by highlighting Mikel Landa's clarinet, with one of the lead guitars filling the role of electric piano! The second part is again introduced by clarinet played in a more reflective tone, and for a moment it almost seems that the clarinet will be the only singer, until rather beautiful male vocals take the lead for a stretch before returning back to the clarinet. Another multicultural lesson is masterfully delivered by "Analisis De Un Dia Ya Previsto", with its almost bluesy main verse and chorus sung lustily in Spanish, spacey middle section, flute led break, somewhat jazzy lead guitars, and vigorous bass workouts, all to an insistent beat. We may have heard it all before, but rarely at once. The quasi title cut is a shape shifting instrumental that basically out-liskers LISKER at their own jazzy game. "Rokanrol" is a full fledged melodic rocker, while the lovely closer provides a welcome contrast and is the most overtly folky cut, signing off in a touching demonstration of vocal harmony.

This is a uniformly excellent album that is highly recommended to fans across the Spanish prog spectrum, as well as almost any fan who enjoys a layered repast of spirited roots music. 4.5 stars, reluctantly rounded down after much thought.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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