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The boys from the city.

Constantly beset by the problem of wanting to introduce their individual style into the field of Basque rock, which is reluctant to admit anything outside the established norms, Split 77 has finally brought out its long-awaited album. The group have remained faithful to their music, the music that they like to play and listen to. The origins of the band date back to 1996, to a small room located underneath San Felicísimo Church in Deusto, Bilbao. Aritz, Natxo, Ekaitz and Iskandar began forming a group with a modern sound which reflects the times we live in, and whose songs, sung in Basque, have a rhythm that is strongly reminiscent of the city. Their sound evokes a number of musical, ideological and social trends, and demonstrates the importance of attitude, not only in music but in everyday life as well. It is full of a sense of satisfaction at having recorded an album in the way they wanted, without dwelling on the negative factors. And this is the beauty of ‘Antenna’. In fact, upon hearing the album, it seems strange that Split 77 should be singing in Basque, given that their sound could easily have come out of London, Manchester or New York. And I believe that, unlike the majority of bands, they have managed to leave the characteristic sound of Basque rock to one side and find their own style and character.

After attracting the attention of Jose Lastra –the renowned sound technician at the Tío Pete studios in Urduliz- the group were presented with the possibility of recording an album, the result of which was ‘Antenna’, a simultaneous receiver and emitter of sounds, music, songs and, in a basic sense, of emotions. Along with the music, the album also contains a booklet compiled by the artist from Bilbao Igor Zorrotzua, who has managed to convey through photography and images the message transmitted by the songs. Each illustration provides listeners with an opportunity to think, wonder and give their imaginations a free rein. A fascinating declaration of intentions. Split 77 already have a clear style, with well constructed yet daring lyrics and choruses that dissolve into guitars and a wide range of other sounds. Each song tells a story that any one of us could have experienced, conveying all types of emotions through metaphor. The roaming of the guitars and various acoustic distortions accompany the lyrics to generate a very special atmosphere, which dominates crescendo to perfection. Very few groups in the Basque Country have the same ability to create a musical world as these boys from the city who have managed to create a sound and music that reflects a young, modern and urban Bilbao.

The album is strongly influenced by youth, post-adolescence and a world of contradictions with which we are forced to come to terms during our lives. Stories of the night, furtive glances, loneliness, thwarted and confused love, death, eternity, desire and dreams. It is a pure album, with a clear undercurrent of pop; it is naked, but with a heartrending undertone. It has a vibrant sound, one minute unhurried and the next pure rock. The mixture of melodies with acoustic distortion lends uniqueness and interest. Echoes of many different groups abound, including the arty concept of the Velvet Underground, David Bowie or even Radiohead, the romanticism of Joy Division, the organic elegance of Kraftwerk, the forcefulness of the American rock style of Smashing Pumpkins or the electronic sound of New Order. The echoes abound, but the songs are impregnated with emotions and feeling, something difficult to achieve, unfortunately, in a time so conducive to romanticism. But as I have thought many times: ‘if you believe in what you do, then everything makes sense’.

Gotzon Uribe.