Benat Igerabide is from Gipuzkoa. After participating in several groups he has spent more than three years working on this first solo project which is entitled Orbainak (Scars). The songs on the album were all written by Igerabide who sings and plays guitar. They have obviously been created with great care and he is joined by a trio formed especially for these recordings which comprises Gorka Urra (guitar), Maria Soriazu (bass) and Gustavo Gonzalez (drums).
Igerabide lived for some years in Los Angeles before returning to the Basque Country and he worked in the studio of Rafa Sardina the Spanish producer, mixer and engineer whose many credits include last year’s album by Elvis Costello and The Roots. Still only 26 Igerabide has used this valuable experience to create his own Sonola Studio where the album was recorded. So he’s involved not just as singer and composer but also as musician, recording and mixing engineer. He has an expressive voice, and writes good lyrics combined with fresh interesting music in a pop-rock style and all eleven songs here have strong melodies.
Igarebide’s songwriting already has a maturity and breadth which keeps the music interesting and varied within the limits of mostly slow building verses and anthemic choruses. While there isn’t any obvious influence from Basque roots music – you won’t find any trikitixa here – the album as a whole very definitely displays an indefinable Basque sensibility and an empathy for Igarebide’s homeland. All the songs are written and sung in Euskara.
Among the best are the second track ‘Esperantxa argiz’ (With light of hope). Like many of the songs it’s a plea for hope, rebirth and for finding a new way: “The sky will dress with light of hope, the dreams will colour the earth”. The slower ‘Oroimenak eraikitzen’ (Building memories) has a poetry in its lyrics which shows a great maturity. Themes of passing time and the need for new directions and identities are pursued on several songs, most pointedly in the insistently melodic ‘Norabide gabe’ (Without direction).
In some ways the songwriting is reminiscent of Takashi Nakagawa’s work with Japanese band Soul Flower Union, but Igerabide has his own style and keeps it generally tighter and more direct with not so many flights of fancy. One or two songs such as ‘Hiria’ (City) show a tougher, more rock influenced side which provides added light and shade to the album but it’s on the more reflective songs that Igerabide really shines. This is a well balanced album and a fine solo debut.
Orbainka is released by Elkar.
Here is a video of one of the album’s songs ‘Merezi ote’ (If it’s worth it):