Jexux Artze, Pello de la Cruz, Mikel Artola, Iker Muguruza
Sakanatik Arbaila Ttipira
Elkarlanean (www.jalgi.com/elkarlanean)

This recording extends the apparently sparse tradition of Basque percussion, their tools, and above all their unusual rhythmic language. Sakanatik Arbaila Ttipira documents contemporary study and preservation of artistry by a small circle of passionate amateurs inspired to innovate, but without any trace of avant-garde aggression. Featured instruments include the txalaparta - a four-note marimba made of massive wood timbers, ezkilak, a community bell, native flutes, and whistling. The CD begins and ends with a solo for ezkilak, played from the steeple of a local church, with most other tracks featuring accomplished duets/dialogues on the txalaparta. In between, the gently jarring sound of the txalaparta is poetically augmented with piano and guitar on "Ezpatadantza," a children's choir on "Eperra," a gorgeous poem that includes the kind of spiritual meat anyone in the world can taste, and male vocal on the song "Loha Loa." The txalaparta's monotonously uneven gallop/trot cadence, flat timbre and low-dynamic effect will be an acquired taste for outsiders. Still, it is unlike anything you have encountered and if you are a hungry music geographer, you will find it an exotic, earthy and ultimately unique detour. This is a vivid evocation of a singularly authentic world, that sounds neither ancient, modern, or ethnic. The CD has very clean close sound, detailed notes and arty but folk-tinged sleeve art. - Steve Taylor

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