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Errobi - Ametsaren Bidea  CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4,5 stars really!

Of all Basque folk rock groups, Errobi is the one that ventured the furthest away from their musical heritage. If Haizea stayed rather "wisely" in a psych folk rock a bit like Itziar, and Izukaitz stayed plaily in acoustic folk with ancient music, Errobi was keen to experiment more in the sense of Itoiz. After their first two rather "standard" folk albums and a live third, their fourth Ametsaren Bidea (Road to dream) was a complete change of direction.

As the rather short (and not very memorable) instrumental opener segues into the 17-min title track, a full-blown progressive rock track, the soft psych feels (induced a bit by a Gilmour or Hillage-sounding guitar) dominates and the superb pastoral ambiances (ranging from a lazy but great bass line to duet vocal and a piccolo-like flute >> simply a masterstroke. The following Andere (Lady Liberty) is only a mere 13-min+, but it has not much to envy to its forerunner, and actually surpasses it in some respects including one of the most interesting percussions/drums duet ever recorded. After two monster tracks such as these, the following track was only to pale in comparison, so Errobi chose to put a very calm acoustic guitared -min Oraino as a closer. A slow starter, the track develops into a charming typical folk rock tune

I do not think there was much to have prepared the Errobi fans for this album, and I can imagine, they lost many when this came out, but one thing is sure, some almost 30 years later, this album is now the highest regarded of their discography. Much recommended if you are into folk prog.

Report this review (#77890)
Posted Friday, May 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars This is the only Errobi album I have heard to-date, but from what I understand this was quite a departure from their earlier works. If so, I can only believe this was an improvement, because the sounds on this album are really innovative and utterly beautiful. Like their brethren Haizea these guys came from a Basque tradition, but the sounds here are even more pronounced and distant from anything resembling traditional folk music than Haizea ever managed.

The opening track is brief and jazz-like discordant instrumental, but it belies what comes next in the form of the seventeen minute title track, which is flowing and spacey and manages to demonstrate only marginal folk tendencies. The sound is anchored by a fat bass line and sound effects, accompanied at times by harmonized male vocals and just a pinch of percussion. This gives way to a heavier drum and electric guitar passage where the guitarist takes a wild ride between alternating solo and harmonized vocals, with the keyboards taking more of a back seat. This is a radical departure from traditional folk, and bears little resemblance to anything folk-like I’ve heard from this region before. Eventually the guitar and drums take over, moving back and forth between heavy and acoustic sections with the bass all the while lounging in the background. There are jazz influences in the arrangement, but overall the flute and acoustic guitar keep the music grounded somewhat in folk territory.

The following “Andere” is also heavy and ambitious, but here the guitar and vocals take an even more prominent role, and there’s an extended drum solo that segues to horns (synthetic I think) for an even more jazz-leaning composition.

Finally the closing “Oraino” comes and the tempo slows down considerably with acoustic guitar and soft percussion accenting a ballad-like vocal passage. A mellow and seductive end to a great album.

I’m looking forward to hearing more of Errobi’s back catalog as the opportunity arises, and if their other albums are anything like this one, they should be excellent indeed. A truly inspiring album, well worth seeking out and highly recommended to fans of world music and ambitious modern folk. Four stars.


Report this review (#156480)
Posted Monday, December 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars While the Basque is a wonderful sounding language in music, and the folksy stylings of Basque prog are refreshing, my experience has been a frustrating one. Apart from the first couple of works of ITOIZ and the sole offering by MAGDALENA, it rarely delivers a wholly satisfying product to my ears. Unfortunately, this most esteemed release by ERROBI does not buck the trend, even if it has much to recommend it.

My big issue is with the longest cut, a meandering mix of various progressive styles without establishing anything remotely resembling an identity. Worse yet, the group abandons its roots in favour of the plod rock of FLOYD or whomever. Luckily, the other epic "Andere" is excellent apart from the drudgery of a percussion solo, but luckily even that is a follow on from the intriguing opening cut which hints at a tribal afro-celtic culture. The vocal arrangements and saxes both possess an urgency utterly lacking in the title track. The closing piece is the closest to conventional folk, with a sound somewhere between JACKSON BROWNE and MOVING HEARTS, and sounding a lot like ITOIZ. Nothing special, but not a throwaway either.

Occupying a middle ground in quality among Basque releases, ERROBI might be of more interest to people at PA simply because of their willingness to stretch out and eschew the pop idiom, even if such forays achieve mixed results.

Report this review (#243748)
Posted Friday, October 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first try at Basque prog rock, and I'm glad I chose this album because it's a great one. I have no idea what these guys are singing about as the Basque language has no relation at all to Spanish or any Indo-European language (in fact language scholars have a difficult time tracing its origins), but I understand they were a politically-oriented band, which should surprise me not at all given the Basque separatist movements that occurred during and after the Franco regime. Errobi got its name for the river that runs through the area, known to us non-Basque speakers as the Nive River. I understand the Basque scene tended more towards folk and folk rock, so I don't expect to find a whole lot of Basque bands in the Yes or Genesis vein. But Ametsaren Bidea, released in 1979 on the Xoxoa label (a small Basque label based in Bilbao) ends up being their most progressive release. Hard to imagine a band's most progressive recording being released in 1979 when their debut appeared around 1975, but that's what happens here. The folk elements are still there, but in an eclectic prog context (with some jazz rock/fusion elements), so it's safe to say eclectic prog fans should like this as much as prog folk fans. "Alboka" is the opening cut, and in fact named after the musical instrument that dominates this piece. The alboka is a single reed instrument with animal horns for the mouthpiece and bell, and two rows of holes, able to play two notes at once. The Welsh pibgorn is similar, except it only has one row of holes and is monophonic. This piece gives a nice lively festive feel, I like how the alboka sounds a bit out of tune compared to the rock instruments being used on this piece. The 17 minute title track starts off rather slow, with a 1980s vibe going on, but I like how the music picks up steam, including fusion elements, and I also like the use of whistle in a couple passages (this whistle is probably Basque in origin and not the common Irish tin whistles. Except for the marimba-like txalaparta, as heard on Area's Maledetti, I'm not to familiar with musical instruments native to the Basque region). "Andere" is a rather intense piece, there's a bit of that medieval vibe going on, with more jazzy passages. It's only appropriate that the final piece, "Oraino" should be a rather relaxed piece. I realize there several other Basque groups around this time period worth investigating. I am a lucky owner of the original LP on Xoxoa, Han Pokora give a four out of six disc rarity rating in his 3001 Record Collector Dreams book, meaning it's incredibly hard to find as an original. It also included an insert with Spanish and French translations of the songs (realizing that not every Basque on the Spanish or French side spoke Basque, especially during the Franco years in Spain). Although this is from 1979, the music has a 1980s feel and production, despite the lack of synths, particularly during the more mellow moments, it has that crystal clear sound you expect from digital recordings (although this was an analog recording as only about three or four digital recordings came out in 1979, from Ry Cooder, Stevie Wonder and True Myth). Luckily it's not like neo-prog or proto-neo-prog. I'm glad to have this album and if you're looking for something off the beaten track, fancy prog sung in a very obscure language very few know about, it's worth trying.
Report this review (#1216715)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2014 | Review Permalink

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