Jexux Artze, Pello de la Cruz, Mikel Artola, Iker Muguruza
Sakanatik Arbaila Ttipira
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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