Itoiz — Ezekiel
(Elkar KD- 791, 1980/2008, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-08-01
By the time of their second album, Ezekiel, the lineup of this Basque band had grown from five members to seven, now including saxes, mandolin, electric piano, and even violin when required. The sound had changed from a rock base to one utilizing more folk understructures, and in some cases this was more evident at the surface as well – all the while remaining truly progressive in a no-nonsense sort of way. With more of an acoustic feel and elements of rock, jazz and Iberian folk incorporated into a more subtle whole, the album contains seven tracks of varying length, all tied together by one unifying theme of the life of the prophet Ezekiel.
Even though the overall feel is more acoustic, don't get the idea that the album doesn't rock – there are some very powerful moments here, plenty of sizzling guitar leads and driving sax solos. In comparison to other Spanish bands with a strong folk flavor, the closest would probably be Ibio. Unlike Triana, Bloque, Mezquita and others, Itoiz has nary a trace of flamenco in their sound, and far more of the local Basque flavor. There are many high points: the almost-celtic violin and dual vocal harmonies on "Ezekielen Esnatzea II,” giving way to a splendid sax solo and flute interchange; the children's chorus on the title track; the beautiful female lead voice provided by vocalist Itziar Egileor on "Ezekielen Ikasgaia.” In all, this is an outstanding release, yet one that may not strike you speechless at first listen, revealing its beauty slowly over several repeated listens. My highest recommendation.
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Kaipa - Kaipa, Inget Nytt Under Solen, & Stockholm Symphonie – In their early years, the Swedish band Kaipa were a quartet playing music in the symphonic rock vein as typified by Yes or Genesis. Vocalist/Keyboardist Hans Ludin is nearly a dead ringer for a... (1994) » Read more