Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND-Político (Nacional Records, 2012)

Camilo got all serious on this one. I mainly love this guy because of his sense of humor but for his fourth official album he left the comedy aside for the most part to focus on political issues concerning his country's currently volatile political climate. 
Accusations of corruption in all society levels, electoral fraud, drug dealing cartes holding the real power and of course, the blood and violence that feed the tabloids daily. In the end he paints a gloomy picture of Mexico (just look a t the cover) very similar to the one we see repeated on the media and many recent Mexican movies. 
And it all adds up and makes me never wanna visit Mexico. Seriously. I've never been there, and I used to be kinda curious about it, but lately all you see and hear about Mexico is how if you're not in good terms with the narcos, you get your head chopped off and your dismembered body will end up hanging from a bridge like some fucking Christmas tree decorations. From every angle you get this same message: Mexico is a really fucked-up place to live. And Mexican Institute of Sound's latest album came just to reinforce all those negative preconceptions in me.   
However, Camilo is still alive after releasing this album. He hasn't been kidnapped and executed like they do to hundreds (or thousands?) of journalist who dare point fingers to the narcos. So I guess things are not THAT bad after all, right? Sure, you have a fake-ass puppet president manufactured in a telenovela assembly line and you have the CIA selling assault rifles to those paramilitary gangs of walking pieces-of-shit with tiny wieners and thick mustaches, but you can still put out some dope music calling for revolution and live to tell it.
Whatever the Mexican reality is really, it's way beyond my intellectual reach to ever comprehend it. Like I don't fully understand a lot of the stuff he's talking about on the lyrics of this album and I don't get most of the references (he quotes the Mexican national anthem on the first single--I had to google that shit) because I didn't grow up in Mexico and I think he was openly targeting the Mexican audience almost exclusively on this one. 
Lyrics left aside, the album in itself is very much the usual MIS, full of lo-fi (uncleared?) samples from his immense collection of old vinyl records blended over hard hitting drum loops. There're a couple of good dancefloor oriented moments as usual, my favorite being the title track which follows the style of his experiments for the EP Suave Patria. There're no special guests, no remixes and not a lot of surprises except for this huge one: if you buy the CD from Nacional Records you get a free flexi-disc single with the song "Es-Toy." Just make sure you get yours shipped in a cardboard box or something, because mine got ruined in shipping. Fucking mailman! 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

BONDE DO ROLE-Tropical/Bacanal (Mad Decent, 2012)

There's very little actual baile funk on Bonde do Rolê's second album and I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or not. I mean, are we ready for post-baile funk? I still like the old stuff, you know the Bambaataa-infulenced funk from the favelas, but this man, this is some crazy shit.
Don't get me wrong, there're a couple gems on this one. But besides the two or three obvious dance-floor-packing tracks, the rest of the album is full of random brega and kitsch and after a couple of songs of that singing style that resembles 7-year-old girls playground rhymes, my head starts to hurt. Add to that some punk guitar distortion and you have a mess of M.I.A.'s catastrophic third album proportions.
I get it, they're taking things to the next level, they don't wanna get stucked in successful formulas, they are taking risks, and all that I appreciate. But if these guys are, like I read somewhere, the Beastie Boys of baile funk, this new opus is no where near a Paul's Boutique type of only-for-connoisseurs experiment. 
Still, like I said, there're definitely some tracks that are safe purchases,  "Brazilian Boys" and "Bang" are some obvious choices (connect the dots: M.I.A. has a track titled "Boys" and a collaboration with Rye-Rye titled "Bang") but then there's that unexpected guest appearance by bossa-nova superstar Caetano Veloso singing over some up-beat African guitar that's sounds way better in reality than what you imagine reading this sloppy-ass uninspired description.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

MAGA BO-Quilombo Do Futuro Remixed (Post World/Crosstalk, 2012)

I bought this for one reason and one reason only, the remix by Frikstailers of "Tempos Insanos" featuring BNegão. The original was pretty good, but that remix, man, that remix is one of the best tracks released in 2012. No wonder Maga Bo chose it as the album opener. These guys truly outdo themselves every time. I really wish there were more Frikstailers joints available on vinyl, but for some reason, ZZK has been pressing vinyls of pretty much everybody else in their roster but them.
Related to this (but not at all to the Maga Bo release) ZZK finally announced they're actually pressing that Future Sound compilation on vinyl. Remember I was wondering about that? Well, there we'll have yet another killer track by the Friki duo and I honestly can't wait to be able to add it to my vinyl set.
Going back to Maga Bo, the Brazil-resident gringo did a pretty good job with his album released earlier this year and then did an even better job scouting top-notch remixers for this follow up. They both came out pretty much at the same time, which is weird, we were just getting to know the original tracks and the remixes already dropped. Even weirder is that the remix album was pressed in vinyl but the original is only available on CD and digital. But I guess it makes sense, having such a selection of remixes, because it's not only the Frikstailer's one that's dope, there's also some amazing work done by the omnipresent DJ Sabo and really dug the one by Dr. Das even though I have no idea who he is.


Monday, August 13, 2012

BONDI BLASTER-Salchichón Primavera (Stronghold Sound, 2012)

A couple of years ago we set out with Dub Snakkr to start a new label and produce some music together. Soon Stronghold Sound was born and our first project, Bondi Blaster.
The first thing I said, when we met at the studio was "I wanna release music in 7'' vinyl." It took us a long time and it's finally here. Now I can play my own track on my all-vinyl DJ sets.
Bondi Blaster's digital debut EP was a success, even better than we expected and we plan to make more new music but it's a very slow process, specially since Dub Snakkr has been traveling around the world and living abroad most of the year, putting together a compilation of African hip hop and reggae recorded in Guinea and yet another compilation of Arab hip-hop he's currently finishing in Lebanon.
In the meantime I've been taking care of the label's local operations and promoting Bondi Blaster and that's when Kay entered the picture and offered his services as remixer for our foundational track "Salchichón Primavera." I've kinda met Kay when he was touring as one of the DJs of Mexican Institute of Sound (while he also performed as part of NSM PSM). We played a show together at The Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco, and that show is until these days remembered by many as legendary, mainly because of my abnormal level of intoxication (all I remember was the security guy pulling me off the stage during the NSM PSM performance because I started to take of my clothes while rolling on the floor). That's why I said I kinda met him, because, really, I don't remember if we even got to talk.
Thing is, Kay listened to "Salchichón Primavera" and volunteered to do a remix even before we started reaching out to other producers to work on it. Originally we were going to include it in the EP along with all the other remixes, but he was taking way too long to finish it because half way through the process he decided it wasn't going to be an NSM PSM remix, he was gonna do it with Sonido Caballero instead. The result of that collaboration was so fucking amazing that we decided this has to be the vinyl debut for the label. So we decided to put out this limited edition 45 with said remix along with the original version of the track, the one that started the whole Bondi/Stronghold saga.
The remix will only be available on vinyl, no digital release for this (well, actually, we'll send you the MP3 if you buy the record, how about that?). There're only 300 copies so hurry up and get yours because these aren't gonna last.

Only pre-sale for US costumers only so far. Stay tuned for more distribution outlets coming up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

JOSE MARQUEZ-Remixes 2 (Basic Fingers, 2012)

LA-based house DJ/remixer José Márquez dropped this one recently and it was an unexpected surprise. Honestly when I saw that he remixed traditional cumbia standard "El Pescador" (a.k.a. "La Mezcla") my first reaction was like, what? why?
I mean, everybody and their mothers have covered that song already and it has already become a crossover house hit a few years ago in the hands of Michael Clais, with all its successive remixes. However, it took me only one listen to realize that this was a very different mix and worth of being added to my set. Even though it also took Toto La Momposina into the house music realm, it did so with a lot more focus on the percussion and the drums on this track are really a delight to listen to, to dance to and to mix. Also the break down, with her voice alone saying "entra la tambora" it's an instant eargasm.
Now if the percussion on the A side was dope, wait until you flip it to the Tego Calderón side. That was the real unexpected shit on this 12'' single. I'm not a big fan of Tego although I do respect him way more than all those phony-ass reggaetoneros with plucked eyebrows. I never would've thought his laid-back flow could be a good match for a 124 BPM house track but it works out great. Still, the good shit here is not in his voice but in the hypnotic tribal drums that never stop throughout the track. After all he's not really rapping anyway, he's just there talking like some African witch doctor during a psychedelic-infused session of trance dancing.
Can't wait to spin this one. It even has potential to crossover to some more Latin/mainstream crowd. We'll see how it works.
Also make sure you check out José Márquez remix of Nickodemus on his latest release, out now on ESL.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ORQUESTA EL MACABEO-El Sueño/Cogiendo Pon (Electric Cowbell/Discos de Hoy 2012)

I was gladly surprised when I found out not too long ago that there was a band of D.I.Y. punky salseros in Puerto Rico still putting out music on 7'' vinyl. Recently that same band came out with a new release and for this one they combined efforts with one of my all time favorite labels, New York-based Electric Cowbell.
Unlike their previous single that was more on the cool laid back side, this one is all about super-uptempo dancefloor-packing madness so it's a DJ's must. I couldn't dance salsa, even if my life depended on it, so I can't even start to imagine how ridiculous I'd look trying to pull some fancy moves at warp speed.
Still, worth adding to my tropical arsenal for those late night sessions of sweaty club dancing. Haven't tried it yet, but I'm pretty sure fellas are gonna love this one. Specially "El Sueño" with its funky groove, mad dope percussion and super long all-instrumental intro. The flip-side is not bad either, I just don't understand what does "Cogiendo Pon" means, I guess that's some boriqua slang or something. Whatever, it doesn't matter, this is a great step in the right direction for the salsa new school. Don't miss it, it's a very limited edition.

Buy it HERE