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International press sings praise for Bidaia

Dirty Linen Folk magazine“The roots are deep and the instruments acoustic, but make no mistake : this is a contemporary band with energy, drive and wide-ranging curiosity. Bidaia translates as ‘voyage’ and it definitely offers a unique travel experience..”

“Instrumental and vocal mastery makes this debut recording by Basque quartet Bidaia not only infectiously, but irresistibly, joyous. The screeching duo of Caroline Phillips’ zanfona, or hurdy-gurdy, and Mixel Ducau’s alboka, a traditional Basque double-reed instrument featuring dual fingering tubes, adds a tonal edge similar to that of the bombarde and biniou found up the coast in Brittany. Both also contribute fine vocals, Phillips a sweet, intense alto, Ducau an expansive, celebratory tenor. Bidaia transcends even this high potential by organizing “Oihan” into a series of suites, punctuated by standalone tracks. …My only reservation about Oihan is that I might not be able to get it off my player before the next Bidaia record is released.” – Jim Foley

“… Though “Ze Poza” is done in a well-worn folk style, Ducau and Phillips offer it with a lot of energy and fine harmonies. Bidaia’s Duo has variety, instrumental excellence, and is in touch with a strong tradition while open to the wider musical world.”

“An innovative, all-acoustic ensemble from Basque Spain offers a unique and creative vision for both their local roots and the greater world beyond. It’s a highly modal experience, driven primarily by traditional Basque instruments – alboka, ttun-ttun (an instrument similar to a zither, but played with a stick as a percussive effect), combined with acoustic guitar, piano, hurdy-gurdy, Moroccan darbouka & Andalusian cajon. The almost surreal vocals of Caroline Phillips are a central, if not solely defining, part of the sound, as her soaring voice is merged into a wall-of-sound created by the instruments in a sharp and stunning series of arrangements.”

 ‘Oihan’ surprises by its ability to re-invent Basque folk music with atypical instrumentation (Andalousian cajon, Maroccan Darbouka, Hurdy-Gurdy) with the spirit of Ry Cooder (the guitar work, the blues and swing of the music) and will go much farther than [ the Basque artists ] Junkera, Alboka or Oskorri.

Duo. “Basque guitarist, alboka player, singer and multi-instrumentalist Mixel Ducau and singer/hurdy-gurdy player Caroline Phillips with meaty multi-layered, grainy-textured treatments of striking original and traditional Euskal songs and tunes; ten strong tracks…”

Oihan. “…While of course like all traditions that of Euskadi has its reflective, intimate side, in the past some Basque bands have gone for a smooth, sometimes perhaps bland sound on record, but there’s recently been a welcome move to a more up-front approach that better conveys the celebratory energy of much of the music. On its debut album, and indeed live, Bidaia is a prime example of that. Led by Ducau and Phillips’ strong Euskera vocals with a well-varied power-house of shrill reeds and hurdy-gurdy driven by Ducau’s guitar and the very agile rhythm section, what jumps out of their music, partly traditional-sourced and partly new, are the melodic shapes and lurching, skipping asymmetric rhythms that are so distinctively Basque.”

 Sometimes I get a cd from a group who is totally unknown to me and they just smash me out with their music. I love such moments because this are moments of surprises and when music surprises me I think I have some of my happiest moments. This cd Oihan by the Spanish band Bidaia is such a cd that caught and I just have to listen to over and over again. The first three minutes I’m not aware of what is going to happen to me. Good atmosphere, strong vocals but the way the first tune goes into the second one and the second one goes over in the third one, give the feeling I’m listening to a kind of traditional story told in several parts. The way this group puts the tunes together is fantastically done. The strong musical arrangements are extremely well done. From intense vocals into aggressive cowhorn, smooth hurdy-gurdy tunes into fabulous guitar work. The music keeps on moving in all kind of directions and still stay in such a perfect balance. I could tell something about each separate song but that wouldn’t do justice to this cd. You should listen to it as one concept in which the musicians mix traditional Spanish material with own compositions and this is one of the rare cd’s that I don’t feel the difference between the traditional tunes and the new material. I think I made myself clear, I simply love this cd, get it!

Praise for Agur Shiva on Worldmusiccentral here 

The unique sound of bidaia finds its origin in its creators : mixel ducau, a basque composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist and caroline phillips, a californian singer-songwriter and hurdy-gurdy player of greek and persian origin.

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