Review by: Avery Campbell
Album assigned by: Roland Bruynesteyn
I have to admit, I looked this album up on Wikipedia, saw that they were classified as prog rock and had released their debut in ‘77, and went into this with a little bit of wariness. Of course, it turned out it was my mistake not to read a couple more words over to where it ALSO said they are folk-rock. Actually, I’m not sure I’d even classify it as folk-rock. Lightly progressive folk, maybe. Yes, what we have here is a collection of Basque folk music, all acoustic guitars, light percussion, and woodwinds, with some really lovely singing from Xabier Lasa and Amaia Zubiría.
Happily, Haizea meets my major requirement for mellow folk music: That it not be boring. The moods here are tranquil, and the tempos are slow, but the music is remarkably pretty. Although I can’t understand Basque, the music and signing manages to get across a really lovely, low-key, melancholy mood. The arrangements of the pieces are also very good. Although strongly rooted in guitar-led folk music, they sprinkle enough little psychedelic and progressive touches into keep things interesting to listen to. I’m especially fond of the backwards sounds in “Uxa ixuririk” and “Oreina Bila”.
The absolute highlight, however, is the 10 minute closer, Arrosa xuriaren azpian. The band takes its time to really stretch out, creating a powerful mood that you can get lost in, as the song slowly transitions from vocals to repetitive guitar themes and back. It sums up everything this band does, it’s melodic and pretty, and it manages to not be at all boring, a feat that many bands with much busier instrumentation aren’t capable of over this length.
Given that I wasn’t familiar with this band at all before having this review assigned, I was very pleasantly surprised. The music contained herein is remarkably beautiful, pretty, and interesting. I’ll definitely come back to this when I’m in just the right mood.