Review Mexican Institute of Sound – Politico

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“México, México, México… Ra Ra Ra.”  It has been a busy past few months for the country of México. A recent gold medal in Olympic soccer has lifted many spirits and overshadowed a disappointing presidential election and bump in the road for the famous “Yo Soy 132” movement. The movement, mostly student based, calls attention to the bias of media primarily in the realm of politics.  So when, Mexican producer, musician, and mastermind of the Mexican Institute of Sound, Camilo Lara stood up to record his most recent album, Politico, it wasn’t just politics as usual.

A scatter-brained journey, fusing folk and traditional with electronic dance music, Politico experiments with many styles and rhythms. Heavy rock on tracks like “Revolución!” and “Mas!” offer sentiment of anger, while tracks like “Se Baila Así” and “Cumbia Meguro” present the album in a smoother, danceable fashion. This is the fourth release from M.I.S. but differs from the previous three albums in that Politico was recorded with a live studio band, as opposed to editing of loops and samples, and now tours with a band spreading the sounds of México all over the world.

What really sets this album apart are the lyrics and the messages. The founder and creator of M.I.S. is Camilo Lara and recent events in his personal life have influenced the tracks we hear on this album.  He was recently featured as a guest DJ on NPR’s Alt. Latino and in an interview with Felix Contreras he talked about a specific event that shaped him and the album. “Imagine one night, next to my house there were helicopters and police, and next door they found 4 tons of explosive C-4, linked to a planned terrorist attack.” Lara explained that the next day he began writing this album. That was over a year ago. Now the album is out and ready for airtime.

The lead track “Politico” begins with a traditional cumbia bass line before wild samples and effects drop over a steady drum line and synthesized keyboard riff. The track builds and peaks, setting the tone for a loud album, as the next track “Especulando” wastes no time in getting in your face and creating a constant buzz in your ear. The album cools off when “México” fades in as brass and chants compliment the outspoken lyrics.

“Es-toy” picks up the pace dropping some serious cumbia tribal and gets those pointy boots moving to some modern Mexican electronica as “Se Baila Así” comes later on and switches the tempo to a more traditional tropical trajectory.

On the final part of the album we hear more hip-hop. “Tipo Raro” lays a xylophone beat background for the political rhymes. And the album concludes with “El Jefe,” an almost Eastern style of Indian rock n’ roll fused with Mexican trumpet.

 

The album includes many themes from protests and uprisings to the influence of drug trafficking on communities and how it corrupts politicians and government. In particular the track “México” enlightens outsiders to the daily goings on in one of the biggest cities in the Western Hemisphere. (Check out the video at the bottom of the page.) But don’t get me wrong this album is not all political or serious.

Short yet loud and full of tracks that will leave you wanting more, Politico is truly a transversal album with universal appeal. Featuring so many styles can be a challenge for most but the Mexican Institute of Sound are using a variety of genres to reach more people. It paints the political picture of México, without sounding boring or plain. Once the album has you dancing, the second listen will catch you thinking.

Politico was released in the US on August 14th 2012 on Nacional Records. It will be released in Europe on October 12th 2012 on Chusma Records. The US release can currently be purchased at Amazon US, Amazon UK or on iTunes.


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