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Negu Gorriak

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Album Review

Inspired by a 1988 Public Enemy concert in Paris, Fermín Muguruza, Iñigo Muguruza, and latecomer Kaki Arkarazo abruptly abandoned Kortatu to explore a harder-edged sound rooted in hip-hop and hardcore on Negu Gorriak. Fermín Muguruza's pit-bull snarl centers the brawling rock-bordering-on-metal guitars and drum-machine backbeats on their first venture into shaping the hip-hop DJ style and sample culture sound to their own ends. But if the musical vehicle changed, the militant lyrical message remains the same as Kortatu. The opening "Esan Ozenki" translates as "Say It Loudly" and the lyrics link Public Enemy's "Fight the Power," the Clash's "White Riot," and James Brown's "Say It Loud! I'm Black and I'm Proud" to the Basque experience. Even that rarest of Negu Gorriak beasts, a love song ("Amodiozko Kanta"), revolves around memories of a 55-minute prison visit. The racehorse pace of "Iraktasi Ziguten Historia," the old reliable "I Can't Explain" chords of "Radio Rahim," and "Malkoak" show traces of Negu Gorriak's later full-fledged attack while "Ragamuffin Jaia" maintains the Jamaican root. The primitive sound collages and the learning-as-you-go approach leaves Negu Gorriak as a spotty but valuable blueprint for the music to come.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Negu Gorriak (which means red winter), a great band likened to the Clash for its ferociously energetic music and radical political stance, would merit attention strictly for the quality of music on the half-dozen CDs the Basque group released between 1990 and 1996. But Negu Gorriak went several steps beyond, adopting the punk D.I.Y. aesthetic with a vengeance and forming the Esan Ozenki label as an independent alternative to the mainstream music industry. The label became the center for releases...
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Negu Gorriak, Negu Gorriak
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