Mike McLatchey 16-September-2002 Lanean Sartzen

Despite the fascination for all things Basque by many progressive rock collectors, there are actually very few Basque groups in general that fit comfortably in this niche. There was Itoiz, who were perhaps the closest, bringing in Yes influences to their folk-rock styling, Lisker whose jamming approach was probably alone of Basque albums, and then you have hosts of groups like Izukaitz and Oskorri who were barely more than traditional folk acts and Koska and Enbor who really didn't deviate much from straight rock. So, you might ask, are there any true Basque progressives? Arguably yes, and Magdalena's only album, Lanean Sartzen, surely counts as one of them and maybe the best at that. Magdalena are obviously a melodic rock band at heart, and a rather good one, making full use of keys, guitar, vocals and winds. But while some of the choruses may not stray much from conventional rock areas, the instrumental breaks tend to rock and jam in the same vein as many other progressive groups of the time, with some nice stops and starts, fairly complex unison lines and lots of lead melodies by flute, guitar and sax. These bring in some rather strong influences of bands like Yes, Genesis and Camel, but these never overshadow that delicate Basque musical nature that tends to make so many albums from the region so enchanting no matter what the style. It's particularly the flute leads that stand out, a breezy style more than reminiscent of Snow Goose-era Camel, but also of other Spanish groups like Gotic. In fact, many Basque groups don't have a lot in common with their Spanish cousins at least in terms of progressive rock, but Magdalena does occasionally evince a breezy Mediterranean type sound in their music. Overall, this is an excellent melodic, near-symphonic progressive rock album, perhaps a bit on the amateur/underproduced side to be a classic, but close nonetheless.

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