Oreka Tx

by wjw on September 27, 2010

We’ve spent the last couple nights at the Globalquerque music festival, featuring three stages of mad fun entertainment from every corner of the globe— and I’ll post about all that later—  but I thought I’d mention the act that was the most fun: Oreka Tx.

The name is Basque, and I won’t venture a guess as to how it’s pronounced.  (“Tx” seems to be pronounced “Icks,” for what it’s worth.)  We just ended up calling them the Crazy Basque Marimba Guys.

At the heart of the group are a couple Basques, Harkaitz Martinez de San Vicente and Igor Otxoa, who play an instrument called the txalaparta, which is a sort of giant marimba intended to be played by two people at once.  The txalaparta is a Basque instrument that was suppressed during the decades of the Franco dictatorship, and it almost became extinct.

A great deal was made in the presentation of how the fact that it’s played by two people requires cooperation and sensitivity and almost a superior moral consciousness, but that’s a little silly.   Playing piano four hands isn’t exactly unknown, you know.

And also, from what I could see, the txalaparta can be played perfectly well by a single person.  It’s just not as much fun.

So what the Crazy Basque Guys did was travel all over the world.  Once they’d arrived in Mali or Lapland or Mongolia or wherever, they built a txalaparta out of local materials (ice in Lapland, stone in Central Asia), and then jam with local musicians.  They produced a documentary film of their adventures called Nömadak TX, and during their concert they played excerpts from the film and played live along with it, and with the two other members of their band, a drummer and a guy who played a lot of wind instruments, some of which I could not identify.

So we’ve got the txalaparta playing along with a Sami singer joiking, and with Mongolian throat singers, and guys on sitars, and Arab ladies trilling, and it’s all driven along by the galloping rhythms of the  Loony Basque Four Hands Marimba, and it was interspersed with film of the Crazy Basque Guys galloping through Mongolia on their ponies in a snowstorm, or jamming in Timbuctoo, and the whole thing was more joyful than I can say.

I’m thinking you could do worse than to be born a Basque.

Shash September 29, 2010 at 1:56 am

I think I’m hooked.

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