Plastilina Mosh performing with Bomba , DJ Kemo , Don Primo and Dj Afro as part of the Latin Alternative Music Conference at the Mockingbird (580 King West), Saturday (August 9). Conference registration $75. 416-504-3081. www.latinalternative.com Rating: NNNNN
There was a time when all the comparisons the media was drawing between Plastilina Mosh and Beck made the Mexican cut-ups seem like the most exciting musical export to cross the border since Esquivel. As if to continue the Beck parallel, Monterey madcaps Alejandro Rosso and sidekick Juan José "Jonaz" González vanished after their disco-dabbling Juan Manuel (Virgin) disc proved just as disappointing as Beck's Midnite Vultures, which preceded it by a few months.
Now, three years later, the Designer Guys of kitschy Mexican mash-ups are back, unveiling their new Hola Chicuelos (Virgin) disc at their Mockingbird showcase Saturday as part of the Latin Alternative Music Conference.
Hola Chicuelos is a welcome return to the playfully entertaining stylistic shell game of their Aquamosh debut. Ditching the outside producers and recording the album themselves worked out beautifully. They swing from raunchy Hammond funk to jazzy lounge right through to outlandishly cheesy hiphop, yet it all sounds uniquely Plastilina Mosh.
"While doing the last album, Jonaz and I would come up with what we thought was a great idea," groans Rosso from his Monterey pad. "But our producer, Chris Alison (the Beta Band), would say, 'I don't really get what you mean.'
"He'd experiment with different things for a few hours until we'd wind up going back to our original idea. So we cut out the middle man this time and recorded the album ourselves. I was careful not to overproduce it. We wanted to return to the feeling we had when it was just two guys having fun making the music they loved."
You'd expect that being left alone to create the album, they'd complete it quicker than usual. But actually it took longer. Part of the holdup was the songwriting process.
Unlike previous albums, where they just went crazy coming up with nutty stuff in the studio, classically trained pianist Rosso (who cites Glenn Gould as a key inspiration) workshopped the compositions for Hola Chicuelos with González over 18 months. But there were other delays.
"The situation with our label in Mexico was a little screwed up. There were presidents coming and going every six weeks, and each one had a different idea of what we should be doing. It was difficult to get anything started."
Throughout the producer changes and label hassles, Rosso and González have managed to maintain a kooky sense of fun that goes far beyond the tongue-in-cheeky use of a chihuahua on their disc sleeve.
With the track Naranjada, they've kept up the strange tradition of presenting the recording debut of a non-singing vocalist - in this case their flamboyant friend Sergio Garza, who has clearly never tried rapping before. It's a Plastilina Mosh thing. You wouldn't understand.
"There are a lot of inside jokes in our songs that we just put in to keep ourselves entertained," chuckles Rosso. "Every time we'd see our friend Sergio, he'd say, 'Hola, chicuelos!,' so that became a joke with us that later became the album title.
"We also invited Sergio into the studio to improvise a hiphop-style rap. Even if you don't speak any Spanish at all I think you can still tell how crappy it is - it's so bad, actually, that it becomes good. That's why I like it." email@example.com