Radio Zumbido

Pequeño Transistor De Feria

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Radio Zumbido's third full-length effort is in part a documentation of L.A. like those films which steer away from obvious locations in the city to show, in an artful sense, what life there can really be like -- it's the audio equivalent of the grungy, overheated side streets in Repo Man or the apartment buildings in Pulp Fiction, uniquely of the city without forcing the issue. Juan Carlos Barrios, aka Radio Zumbido himself, draws on a slew of instruments and sounds to interweave the feeling of the busy collage of music one can hear on the streets of the city -- multiple percussion styles and breaks in particular are the punctuating moments of the album as a whole -- with his own particular vision, further shaped by his life in Barcelona and elsewhere. Thus there's a range from the drawn-out but still sweetly attractive acid psychedelia of "El Desierto," a bit of Santana spliced with Savage Republic, to the careful collage of a Mexican radio DJ or MC, accordions, echoing dub moves and feedback snarl of the wittily titled "Everybody Wants to be Manu Chao These Days." (Barrios' sense of song titles is excellent throughout -- one gently sad late-night blues number is called "Dolorcito.") There's a beautiful grace on many of the tracks, sometimes on the quickest -- thus "Petit Llampec," which in its combination of guitar chime and understated clatter and beat feels universal rather than specifically grounded in any context. Sometimes the combinations are simple but perfect, as with the gently Boards of Canada-like melody riding atop the busy drum jams of "Revuelta," or the big-and-deep hip-hop break with distorted and compressed swirls of mariachi arrangements floating atop "La Mexican Cornershop." On balance this is a surprising and engaging album that rewards re-listening -- something new always seems to be around the corner.

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