AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Joseba Agirrezabalaga & Mikel Vega – Lepok [Urpa I Musell]

Lepok brings together the two Basque electric guitarists Joseba Agirrezabalaga and Mikel Vega, who recorded these improvisation in June 2021 in Arrasate. It’s a very live-sounding recording that puts the listener right in the middle of the two musicians—so close, in fact, that one can hear the buzz of the amplifiers in the background.

The two guitars are evenly matched in terms of their overall sound—clearly etched tones shimmeringly overlaid with reverb– which gives the music a textural depth derived from accumulating mass rather than from sharply contrasting timbres. The opening track, the clangorous Birjaiotza, pushes this principle to its limit with its harsh, metallic blocks of sound. The title track, which drifts into territory outlined in hum and sparse notes, explores the other, more open possibility presented by textural construction. The playing overall is mostly abstract and somewhat tentative, a reflection perhaps of the fact that the session represents the first time Agirrezabalaga and Vega played together. Nevertheless, the closing track, Mamu kitarjolea, is sure-footed in its deployment of a chord-progression-and-solo structure that coalesces into broad, hammered gestures and squealing distortion.

Daniel Barbiero