**This discounted bundle includes the latest albums released on Hego, a label that focuses on the works of experimental artists from the Basque Country in the north of Spain** The London-based imprint, Hegoa, returns with their final batch of LPs for 2023, delivering three more incredible deep dives into the incredible sounds emerging from the Basque region: Asier Maiah’s “F(r)icciones”, Dopelganger’s “Sainen Hildo”, and Bidai’s “Biarrezgaur”. Each following their own distinct trajectories of experimentalism, ranging from Asier Maiah’s genre defient compositions that incorporate choral vocalizations, bristling electronics, outright noise, and burnt psychedelia; to Dopelganger’s complex works for accordion and voice and Bidai’s immersive explorations for two guitars, each is an absolute revelation that can't be missed.
Over the last couple of years, the London based imprint, Hegoa, has taken great strides toward illuminating the shadowy world of contemporary music emerging from the Basque region, an autonomous community in northern Spain with its own distinct cultural traditions and language. Since their breakout success last year with Carcáscara’s “II”, the imprint has delivered stellar releases from Verde Prato, OL UZ, and Alberto Lizarralde, each of which has illuminated how rich and remarkable the Basque scene is. Now they’re back with three more releases to round out 2023, Asier Maiah’s “F(r)icciones”, Dopelganger’s “Sainen Hildo”, and Bidai’s “Biarrezgaur”. Covering a vast range of creative trajectories, from Asier Maiah’s genre-defiant body of experimental composition—ranging from choral works, gestures of bristling electronic, outright noise, burnt psychedelia—to Dopelganger’s complex works for accordion and voice and Bidai’s immersive explorations for guitar, it’s hard to think of equivalent for any of these albums anywhere in the contemporary landscape of sound. Entirely engrossing and creatively brilliant, each is issued in very limited editions of 300 copies on black vinyl, and marks the emergence of a number of towering talents into the global consciousness.
Asier Maiah - F ( r ) icciones
A.Maiah is the moniker of Asier Pérez Basterra, a composer and guitarist who has been involved in the Basque scene since the late 90s, working in the post-punk and noise-rock bands like Exhale, Erizo, Nitxos and Viva Bazooka, among others, as well as within the directed improvisation ensemble Eraeran and collaborative projects within Basque free improvisation scene. Self-described as a guitarist, composer, and improviser of idiomatic noise, during the mid-2010s he began to develop a solo practice that traversed the territories industrial noise, idiomatic instrumental guitar compositions, and rigorous free improvisation for prepared guitar and electro-acoustic music based on the sampling of field recordings, appearing across numerous self-releasing albums over the better part of the last decade.
“F(r)icciones”, A.Maiah’s first solo full length working with a label, is a complex assembly of diverse pieces drawn from different sources and extensions of the artist’s practice, including a set of experiments for a noise convention in Orozco that never happened, an 18 women choir piece composed for a soundtrack to a documentary that hasn’t been released, and a drone composition constructed from accumulating guitar noise.
Given the diversity in approach and material content represented by its eight compositions, “F(r)icciones” works remarkably well as a single body of sonority as well as broad overview of the complexities of A.Maiah’s compositional approaches. The album’s first piece, was created as the soundtrack to “Durangas”, a documentary focusing on women and heritage, discussing civil war, education, sex and violence in the town of Durango in the Basque Country. Conducted by Garazi Navas, performed and recorded live st San Agustin Cultural Centre by an 18 women from Durango, the piece is tense and seductive gesture of contemporary experimental choral music that borders on minimalism.
The remaining seven pieces comprised by “F(r)icciones” were recorded between 2021-2022 on portable recording devices between Burgos and Estudios Nomadas. At the core of the album are 5 untitled instrumental pieces that range from beautiful efforts of layered drone, meandering psych tinged guitar works with electronics and processing that bubble with a madcap sensibly and a confrontational radicalism marks them as simultaneously left-field, playfully irreverent, and pointedly avant-garde, before concluding with two guitar pieces, the aggressively overdriven, minimalist “Akatu Akatzailea”, and “Ranchera Rota”, a sea-sick meandering piece of deconstructed melodies and ornaments for solo guitar.
Another fantastic document from Hegoa that dives deep into the contemporary Basque scene and brings up gold, A.Maiah’s “F(r)icciones” is acaptivating listen from its first sounding to its last, revealing a fantastic composer who’s been working in our midst, just out of view, for years. Issued as a beautifully produced vinyl LP, like all of Hegoa’s output before it, this one shouldn’t be missed.
Dopelganger - Sainen Hildo
Dopelganger is a collaboration between classically trained accordion player and singer Garazi Navas and the experimental musician, composer, and sound artist Miguel A. Garcia. Over the last two years, the pair have released a small handful of cassettes as duo, as well as a CD in quartet arrangement with the bassist Alex Reviriego and percussionist Vasco Trilla. “Sainen Hildo” is their first vinyl release and their first album with Hegoa.
One of the aspects that makes Dopelganger particularly interesting is the nature of Navas and Garcia’s creative partnership. Rather than working as joint instrumentalists, the project finds Navas rendering, recomposing, and rearranging Garcia’s compositions for accordion and voice, and harnessing the natural resonance and harmonics of each toward an introspective interplay of evolving drones, textures, tonalities, dissonance, and percussive outbursts.
As “Sainen Hildo” unfolds over its two sides and four pieces, Navas unveils a deeply melancholy music at the juncture of experimentalism and the traditional folk ballad, threaded with the operatic. While there are logical touchstones in the work of Pauline Oliveros - drone and the use of certain “extended” techniques - Dopelganger’s approach to the possibilities presented by the interplay of accordion and voice push toward what is arguably more unstable and unsettling ground, incorporating a broader range of dynamics and a sonorous palette that leaves the listener less certain of where they stand in truly rewarding ways, particularly in the album’s final two tracks: "Potret”, built from high pitched microtones, and “Jaiogabe, Ispilu & Nahian” which manages to elevate the humble accordion to scale and scope of pipe organ.
A deep and complex exploratory universe of ambience and drone, Dopelganger’s “Sainen Hildo” represents yet another thrilling revelation of contemporary music from the Basque country via Hegoa. The label just keeps giving up gold. Issued in limited edition of 300 copies on black vinyl, housed in a coloured matt laminated cover, it’s bound to fly once the word gets out.
Bidai - Biarrezgaur
Each of Hegoa’s releases to date has managed to defy and sense aesthetic overlap, while feeling entirely at home in the spirit amplified by the label. Once again, this is true of Bidai’s “Biarrezgaur”, the final LP in their latest batch. Bidai, which translates as “trip”, is a relatively new collaborative project betweenXabi Strubell and Mikel Vega, two longstanding and emblematic artists on the Basque scene who have both been active for more than three decades. Strubell is a writer, poet and musician from Hondarribia, on the border with France, who first emerged into the musical landscape as a member of the seminal Basque Post Hardcore band, Dut, who has been weaving solo efforts for acoustic guitar under the name Zura since 2005. Vega is musician and cultural activist from Bilbao who has worked within numerous collaborations over the years, notably Conteiner, Killerkume, Loan, Orbain Unit, and more recently with Miguel A. Garcia (Dopelganger) and Joseba Agirrezabalaga (Lepok). Despite occupying similar spaces in roughly the same orbit over those years, the pair’s paths didn’t cross until 2022, the happening of which prompted the beginning of Bidai and the subsequent recording of “Biarrezgaur” at Bonberenea, an independent cultural hub housed in an abandoned warehouse in Tolosa.
Entirely improvised by Strubell and Strubell on guitars and effects, “Biarrezgaur” draws fascinating intersections between the work of Loren Connors, Derek Bailey, Steve Gunn’s instrumental work, and the soli stylings of John Fahey, as its players weave dreamy, entangled guitar lines of tonality that dance with creative open, responsiveness in space and ambiences. Ranging from the melodic to more aggressively atonal, non-idiomatic, and textural passages, across the album’s six real-time compositions Strubell and Strubell constantly rethink the language and possibilities presented by the guitar, creating a collective body of emotive sound that is as beautiful as it challenging.
Absolutely fantastic and laden with depth, Bidai’s “Biarrezgaur” is one of the most deeply engaging contemporary improvised guitar records that we’ve encountered in years. Issued in limited edition of 300 copies on black vinyl, housed in a coloured matt laminated cover, like everything it opens the mind as much as the ears.