Album Reviews

Mexican Institute Of Sound – Soy Sauce

(Cooking Vinyl) UK release date: 4 May 2009

When you consider Camilo Lara’s day job as head of EMI Mexico, it’s nothing short of remarkable that this is his third release as Mexican Institute Of Sound in four years.

Still more when you look at the list of influences on his MySpace site. Clearly he’s done a lot of listening, for the bewildering mix of artists runs far and wide – until you realise the list is just the ‘A’s!

His last pick is telling, though – for Lara’s music has much in common with The Avalanches in its profligate pilfering of samples and beat collages. However there are signs, with each release, that Lara is honing his sound, searching for perfection in the blend between mariachi brass, electronica and beguiling vocals

In doing so he starts to reign in some of the excesses of the previous, rather schizophrenic album Pinata, and his music breathes more freely as a result. That’s not to say the music has lost its creative sparkle, mind, as anyone hearing the throaty trumpets and sashaying rhythms of Cumbia will testify.

Yo Diga Baila, perhaps the best track here, has more than a whiff of Basement Jaxx about it, with a sassy four to the floor house beat that invites some serious booty shaking. For sheer weirdness Sinfonia Agridulce (Bittersweet Symphony) has to be included too – for yes, this is Richard Ashcroft walking with attitude through the streets of Guadalajara. And, unlikely as it sounds, it’s a minor triumph as the perky trumpets shove the Verve’s violins aside.

Samples can still be found in abundance in Lara’s work, as the flurry of animal noises in Te Quiero Mucho testifies, and the hyperactive quality persists on those songs. It’s all a bit much to accompany the morning cornflakes, but works well as a burst of energy later in the day.

Yet sometimes the clashes of styles are just too much, and in tracks like Comite Culificador Part 2 it feels like there’s way too much going on.

Just as the listener might be tiring, perhaps reaching for the skip button, along comes a track like Karate Kid 2, where Lara does interesting things with layered vocals, sudden synth chords, and, as ever, a bass hook to hang your coat on.

And it’s this refreshing unpredictability and willingness to try new things that will keep you coming back for more, no matter how cluttered your head might feel by the time the night is over.

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Mexican Institute Of Sound – Soy Sauce
Mexican Institute of Sound – Pinata