[UiM 007] Joseba Agirrezabalaga & Mikel Vega – Lepok

Urpa i musell is pleased to present our seventh release entitled Lepok by Joseba Agirrezabalaga & Mikel Vega.

The album consists of improvisation from a duo, in which both musicians play guitar and effects. Joseba and Mikel are good friends and know each other very well but, at the same time, they had never played together before. This mutual ambivalent (un-) knowledge creates an unrepeatable situation of intimate distrust. They interact vigilantly, very close to one another, neither artist able to escape. Compact tension crosses the album and the friction of its content takes them to irrepressible eruptions. In doing so, their interplay becomes arid. Lepok drags us with them until we are irremediably buried.

Defining such complex musicians and their scene seemed very difficult to us. A closer point of view may be warmer and more precise. Because of that, we asked two relevant personalities of this milieu to help us: journalist Antton Iturbe and musician Ibonrg, who kindly agreed to shed some light on the subject.

A little bit of context
By Antton Iturbe

Abandoned, forgotten, on the fringes. A warehouse in the Larraskito neighborhood in Bilbao. An old residence that served as a slaughterhouse in Azkoitia, Gipuzkoa. Vestiges of a city that lived to the soundtrack of the sirens of its steel mills, of a rural town anchored to the land and its ancestral language. This is how they have continued to operate, converted into catalytic shelters for courageous sound experimentation. Abandoned and forgotten by the big media, on the fringes of cultural institutions and fashionable musical trends. 

For more than twenty years both spaces have functioned as an oasis, a beacon in the thick fog of inconsequential musical offerings that surrounds us every day. Home to the most extreme, challenging and always exhilarating performances; breeding ground for the richest and most unexpected collaborations; meeting points for like-minded souls in a collective effort and reward in the purest and most devoted exchange of ideas and sensations. 

Joseba from Azpeitia and Mikel from Bilbao have been two basic pillars in this great little story, both from their multiple musical projects and as listeners and faithfully involved in their daily activity. The dialogue between both spaces has been constant throughout these years, as a result of which this delicious collaboration is born in the form of a record.

The main characters
By Ibonrg

Mikel Vega is one of those people who has long been actively trying to stoke the fire of the contemporary scene in the ICU, and to which he has dedicated his entire life. Few people remain on the Bilbao scene with the tenacity and attitude and trajectory of Mikel Vega, deploying his work in different fields, but increasingly directed towards improvisation, an area he explored with his duo Killerkume who toured extensively in Europe. 

Vega has staged gigs with Brown Handia, a versatile DIY rock collective with one foot always set on the experimental. He has been a part of Loan, on bass and vocals, Killerkume (guitar and effects), and is the bassist for Conteiner. On the guitar he travels in numerous improvisational combos with people like Fernando Ulzión, Matías Riquelme, Itziar Markiegi, Garazi Gorostiaga, Ibonrg, Miguel A. García (xedh). His projects revolve around jazz, noise and metal, always produced with his signature sound, evident on the 2022 cassette “Powndak Improv”, his fabulous solo album released on the label Crystal Mine.

On the other hand, there is Joseba Agirrezabalaga. I saw him live for the first time more than ten years ago, with the guitar slung over his shoulder, that he used to build a tangle of sharp and corrosive riffs and noise, in an eternal struggle with another guitar and a drum machine. Among all the elements brought together by his duo Fernalia, there were cracks for threads of melody, landscapes and atmospheres. 

Before he had been part of Autoa, also in the Urola Valley (Azpeitia, Azkoitia), around the Matadeixe / Matadero in Azkoitia, an essential place to understand the Basque underground. Years later, he began his solo career as Paezur, with the guitar either resting on his thighs or lying on a table surrounded by junk he used to continue that industrial sound, dark with frequent flashes. 

The way Joseba works and finds his sound, as well as how he creates in general, has a lot to do with his other artistic side, focused on drawing, collage and painting.

Urpa i musell, Antton Iturbe and Ibonrg

Translation into English: Mark Dix