Kortatu

El Estado de las Cosas

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Kortatu's second LP (the CD version includes an extra three-track EP) catches the final baby steps of the political Basque trio as they reach the point where their punk/ska/reggae/rock musical chops begin to complement their militant lyrical messages affirming Basque identity. El Estado de las Cosas is intriguing because you can almost hear Kortatu grow before your ears. "It's the rock of the front line/One sees that you're here" is the chorus of the opening "Linea Del Frente," and the marching-to-war music matches the martial chant. The early songs deliver rudimentary punk, clipped "I Can't Explain" chords, and Jamaican rhythms well enough, but won't make anyone forget they're listening to a young group inspired by punk's D.I.Y. aesthetic. But a funny thing happens once Kortatu makes the reggae moves of "9 Zulo" and "Equilibrio" (the latter featuring Josetxo Siguero's sax) and rocks the Basque tune "Jaungoiko Eta Lege Zarra" with Javier Muguruza's accordion. The earlier tentativeness seems to fade away as the band becomes more aware and confident of pulling off the expanded range of possibilities at their grasp. "Hay Algo Aqui Que Va Mal" is an adaptation of the Specials' "It Doesn't Make It All Right" and "Desmond Dub" is a first stab at dub, but what really matters is that feeling of the future here. Kortatu's learning curve has reached the point on El Estado de las Cosas where you sense the group knows that full command of their musical direction is just around the corner.