Sometimes something is so good it washes over you like a cascading river or erupting tide. That happened to me at about 5:00 this morning. Prodded by an e-mail to listen, I was swept away by the delicate complexity of Iñigo Ugarteburu‘s work. The Basque composer was a member of avant folk groups Carcáscara and Café Teatro before embarking on a solo career in the UK. Since the move, he has released two singles, the LP Back and Forth (2012), and 2013’s For the Unknown EP. He works with the Barcelona-based independent recording company, Foehn Records.
For the Unknown was my introduction to Ugarteburu, who primarily plays classical guitar. The EP was recorded in two weeks with many fine jazz musicians, including Josh “Rubberband” Abrams, who is formerly of The Roots. “Miradas” (translates to “Glances”) opens the album with Ugateburu playing a persistent chord progression as Jeff Kimmel’s bass clarinet dances delicately over it. The song progresses as Ugateburu sings quietly; it plays like a skiff plodding through a foggy river before hitting the rhythm of open water, and then returning quietly home.
“Miradas” from For the Unknown
“Dicen” (translated as “Say”) is the feature track on the EP, and was released as a single with several remixes (free download here). The song is drenched in sadness and punctuated by Nick Broste’s mournful trombone.
“Dicen” from For the Unknown
The EP ends on two instrumentals. “Tomodachi” is a meditative piece where Ugarteburu plays ukelele. For the Unknown concludes with the fifteen-minute “Homing,” which credits 11 artists, and actually makes use of a bicycle as an instrument. Both instrumentals incorporate field recordings for ambience. Name your price on Bandcamp for a digital copy of For the Unknown or order a limited edition copy on vinyl.
Ugarteburu’s 2012 release, Back & Forth, is just as impressive as For the Unknown. More traditional in nature, it expresses more influences and dabbles in orchestral arrangements, while integrating songs with European-style folk instruments such as the accordion and the euphonium. Including Ugarteburu, there are fifteen artists who contribute to For the Unknown.
“æraberan” from For the Unknown
“Madari Katua” from For the Unknown
Here’s a treatment of American Blues in “Mississippi Is So Far” from For the Unknown.
For the time being, For the Unknown is available as a free download on Bandcamp. Vinyl enthusiasts can also get their fix by visiting Bandcamp and ordering what remains from the original pressing of 500 LPs. Get it now, and enjoy your Saturday.