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10 Jun 2016

Itoiz ‎” Itoiz” 1978 Spain Xoxoa Label Basque Prog Folk first album









Itoiz ‎” Itoiz” 1978 Spain Xoxoa Label Basque Prog Folk first album.

full album


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One of the hottest names of the Basque Prog Folk scene,Itoiz started around mid-70’s under the guidance of guitarist/singer Juan Carlos Perez and members coming from the towns of Mutriku and Ondarroa.Initially named as Indar Tapes, the band begun as a dance music group performing  in evening festivities and soon developed their own style, mixing Rock with Basque Folk.They were renamed to Itoiz (after the valley of the same name in Navarra) and debuted with an eponymous LP in 1978 on the biggest Basque Rock label, Xoxoa.“Itoiz” blends nicely the softness of Basque Folk music with the adventure of synth-driven Progressive Rock.The tracks are split between two styles: those closer to Basque Folk music with delicate flute work by Joseba Erkiaga, mellow piano parts by keyboardist Jose Antxon Fernandez and the acoustic guitars and dreamy vocals of Juan Carlos Perez and those deep into the Progressive Rock aesthetics with strong use of Moog synths and a fair amount of electric guitars.The later are almost always wrapped in well-crafted symphonic arrangements with a strong sense for harmony and melody, while the vocal lines add often a dramatic touch.Both styles are satisfying for the prog listener with a good balance and enough space for instrumental action.For those who want to come in touch with this particular Progressive Rock genre “Itoiz” is a great place to start…..
Although the Basque were better known for their prog folk groups, Itoiz, while remaining inherently Basque, was probably the most symphonic of all of those late 70’s group from the rebel provinces and in all likelihood the Basque group most likely to please the progheads. Graced with one of the stranger artwork around with a large plastic window (making it one of the most sought-after Spanish-related records ever), the quintet’s debut album is a particularly enjoyable and is quite a poetic affair with heavy symphonics, but staying firmly rooted in “latin” roots, if the Basque will allow lumping their culture in an ocean of Latin culture surrounding them. The line-up is your standard prog quartet plus a flutist and both the guitarist and bassist are singing.
While hardly flawless (it appears that the lead guitarist, JC Perez, could not sing and play at the same time, but I am not positive about this, but he is also the main composer), this first oeuvre is a rather impressive flute-laden Genesis or Camel-influenced prog, but somehow also prefacing the 80’s symphonic or neo-prog. It is rather hard to say much more about this album, but  if you love Italian prog lyricism, this stuff will simply overwhelm you, like only PFM, or QVL can. Never groundbreaking, not even original, but damn well executed for a debut album.
While they were not really among the forerunner of the Basque musical upheaval, Itoiz remains one of the best remembered and even if they changed quite a bit over the years, they were the ones that had the longest career, recording into the late 80’s. While a little pompous (and certainly not helped by the Basque lyrics) and the above-mentioned “latin” feel, this music is always very melodic and never offensive to the ears, but seems to lack a little imagination or personality that would’ve made it that extra special to make it stand out. Close but no cigar.
NB: while most/all other Basque groups provided translation in French and Spanish of their texts, Itoiz does not and neither does their label which happens to be the same as the other group’s……
It seems that the death of Franco and the establishment of a democracy in Spain also unleashed some pent up progressive rock, such that the golden age for Basque prog was the late 1970s.  This 1978 debut by  Itoiz is one of the best places to start your Basque prog collection.
This is delicate and sumptuous folk rock with many progressive aspects.  The longing melodies, plaintive vocals, and versatile organ consistently distinguish themselves.  The album opens very strongly with “Phuntzionariat” which is a bit atypical, being more classically proto progressive a la Procol Harum or Beggars Opera.  While most people seem to point to the longest track “Goizeko Deiadar” as the best, I actually think that its at times cacophonous nature just does not fit with the generally pastoral mood of the album, although the band does really cook here.  
My favourite songs are the two “Hiltzori”, the first with its insistent flute/guitar interchanges over syncopated drums, and the second with its mysterious organ motifs, wrapping up with a reprise of the theme of the first.   “Foisis Jauna”  is another great one, especially the fuzzy guitar in the break.  The closer  "Astelehen Urdin Batean" brings us back to the laid back style and sounds more Latin in a jazzy way than most of what is here.   It provides a fitting end to a mostly mellow classic…..
One of the hottest names of the Basque Prog Folk scene,Itoiz started around mid-70’s under the guidance of guitarist/singer Juan Carlos Perez and members coming from the towns of   Mutriku and Ondarroa.Initially named as Indar Tapes,the band begun as a dance music group performing  in evening festivities and soon developed their own style,mixing rock with Basque Folk.They were renamed to Itoiz (after the valley of the same name in Navarra) and debuted with an eponymous LP in 1978 on the biggest Basque rock label,Xoxoa.
“Itoiz” blends nicely the softness of Basque Folk music with the adventure of synth-driven Progressive Rock.The tracks are split between two styles: those closer to Basque Folk music with delicate flute work by Joseba Erkiaga,mellow piano parts by keyboardist José Antxon Fernández and the acoustic guitars and dreamy vocals of Juan Carlos Perez and those deep into the progressive rock aesthetics with strong use of moog synths and a fair amount of electric guitars.The later are almost always wrapped in well-crafted symphonic arrangements with a strong sense for harmony and melody,while the vocal lines add often a dramatic touch.Both styles are satisfying for the prog listener with a good balance and enough space for instrumental action.
For those who want to come in touch with this particular progressive rock genre,“Itoiz” is a great place to start.The album contains good interplays,warm vocals and semi-complex arrangements and comes strongly recommended for both fans of Folk and Symphonic Rock.

Line-up / Musicians

- Joseba Erkiaga / flute
- Estanis Osinalde / drums
- Juan Carlos Perez / guitar and vocals
- Jose Garate / bass
- Jose Antonio Fernandez / keyboards

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Phuntzionariat  
2. Goizeko Deiadar  
3. Zati Txiki Bat La M'en  
4. Lau Teilatu  
5. Hiltzori I  
6. Hiltzori II  
7. Foisis Jauna  
8. Astelehen Urdin Batean

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..