Mexican Institute of Sound

Mejico Maxico

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Think Mexico City and you don't automatically think hipster mecca. In fact you don't think hipster mecca even if urged -- you think hot, crowded, and poverty-pocked. Yet peel the cellophane off Mexican Institute of Sound's Méjico Máxico and all that changes before you can square the jowly guy in Chuck Taylors on the cover with the space-age pastiche of sound he's assembled. Camilo Lara, a central figure in the Latin world's widening electronica circle and MIS' one-man mastermind, is a little like LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy: you know the guy's a genius, but it's obvious he's less a performer than a gifted collage artist. Acts like Placebo, Gecko Turner, Babasónicos, and Le Hammond Inferno have enlisted him for remixes, and chances are that, like LCD, he's bombarded by requests for sound tweaks from distant musical spheres (can it be long before Britney Spears' reps come calling here, too?). Méjico Máxico, though unlikely to launch him into the popular imagination, at least accounts for why his undergroundsman's cred is so rock-solid: in a carefully sequenced set of all-Spanish tracks, MIS welds a scrap heap of cumbia, dub, cha-cha, disco, and poetry into a sturdy tower of ultramodern, ultra-listenable music. Record-player hiss rubs up against repeated spoken word assurances ("OK!"), and faded piano plinks dissolve into rhythmic bleeps, whorls, and trance beats. Melancholy morphs into a moody happiness. Dreaminess melts into despair. MIS, presiding with a light touch, sews it all up with a surefootedness that serves his genre well: Mexican electronica is a hard sell, but here are 15 reasons why it shouldn't be.

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