Pirritx eta Porrotx,
Mari Motots
(Katxiporreta, 2006)

Basque clowns Pirritx & Porrotx continue to break new ground in children's recording with this new CD that centers on the adventures of Mari Motots, a little girl with pigtails they meet playing in a local park.

Porrotx (Josemari Agirretxe) is a 20-year veteran performer, and during this time the mustachioed musical clown has performed on dozens of children's CDs, each one more musically adventurous than the last. His feminine counterpart Pirritx (Aiora Zulaika) has performed for about eight years. Another valued member of the group is Mertxe Rodriguez, the title character in this and many other of the group's recordings, featured here as Mari Motots herself.

The usual elements of a Pirritx & Porrotx record (this is their third as a duo) include musical variety, short dialogues, energy, fun and the best available musical talent in the Basque country. For this review, I checked with the experts, a couple of children, aged 3 and 7. For these children, who are exposed to a lot of music, a Pirritx & Porrotx record is the measure against which all other music is compared and inevitably falls short.

The duo -- previously a trio -- has branched out musically and now includes many cameo vocal and instrumental performances from a who's who of Basque performers, including heavy metal group Su Ta Gar, poet-singers (called bertsolaris) such as Jon Maia and Maialen Lujanbio, folk musicians Tapia and Leturia, and rockers like Inigo Muguruza of Sagarroi (formerly of the legendary group Negu Gorriak).

Last year, the CD Maite Zaitut and its catchy title song left its imprint all over Basque country. This time, a Latin sound is prevalent, on such tunes as the infectious "Alai Elkarrekin" which, to me, shapes up as the hit on this recording. Pirritx and Jon Maia do a nice duet on a Joseba Sarrionandia song about a zebra that wants a coloured coat. On another track Aitor Gorosabel Garai and Asier Osoro, veteran rockers from Su Ta Gar, do a creditable imitation of pirates -- on a track that also features Alos Quartet, a classical string section.

Other musicians, to name just a few, include singers Olatz Korta, and Labrit, while Oreka TX appear on a number of tracks on txalaparta, a Basque two-person percussion instrument. This is not to neglect the numerous and very talented Basque children who perform, not only in chorus, but as featured lead singers on several tracks.

Xabier Zabala performs his usual magic as musical director of the project and technical producer Haritz Harreguy (guitarist for Sen) makes it sound great in the studio. Lyrics are available in Euskara (the Basque language) without any other explanatory notes, but the music speaks for itself. It is, quite simply, among the very best music available today for children, in any language.

by David Cox
24 March 2007

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