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 by radical Basque rock bands and eventually the distributor for a few like-minded rockers and rappers from outside Spain. One thing though: don't call Negu Gorriak rock en español. Fervent Basque nationalism is an integral part of their political stance and Spanish culture and language is viewed as an imperialist imposition on Basque autonomy. Communication is highly valued, though, so the lyrics and websites connected to the band usually come in Castilian Spanish, French, and English, as well as Basque. In many ways, it may be a blessing to not understand Basque; chief songwriter Fermín Muguruza is a staunchly ideological and political lyricist who views rock and punk as a vehicle for expressing revolutionary sentiments. That could get real old real fast, but fortunately he's a born songwriter who knows how to shape those political message views into catchy choruses that stay with you even if you don't get the words or the message. And Negu Gorriak is a band that knows how to craft music, especially the magnetic guitar hooks created by Iñigo Muguruza and Kaki Arkarazo to frame those hard-edged sentiments and have an appeal purely for their sonic force. Negu Gorriak emerged from the ashes of Kortatu, a punk-ska-reggae trio centered around Fermín Muguruza and Iñigo Muguruza that became the creative standard bearer for Basque rock during the mid-'80s. At the height of Kortatu's popularity in 1988, the Muguruza brothers saw a Public Enemy concert in Paris in 1988. They immediately recruited Kaki Arkarazo, a sound engineering whiz who played second guitar on Kortatu's last tour, to embark on a project blending hip-hop and hardcore.