Plastilina Mosh: Juan Manuel
IN 1998, MEXICAN duo Plastilina Mosh's Aquamosh revealed itself as a being with the sort of spliced, hodgepodge anatomy already familiar to fans of Beck or the Beasties. The album's college-rock musculature was controlled by a hip-hop-derived nervous system, attached to occasional jazz/lounge ligaments, with a tongue lodged permanently in cheek. But where our gringo stars have sucked all of the world's styles unto themselves with noble-ass oblige, Aquamosh reflected a warped, gaudy version of the cultural imperialism back on itself. Not that the duo would deign to interpret their project so stodgily: Rock, hip hop, disco, punk, and metal were sloshed together with the free-rein lunacy of those wacky Univision shows whose punch lines remain impenetrable to us Norteño squares.
Juan Manuel finds P-Mosh's Alejandro Rosso and Jonas still funky, still cheeky, but differently inclined than two years ago. There's nothing quite as loud as Aquamosh's mud-bogged "Monster Truck," but exercises in focused jazzy smoothness like "Graceland" retain a connection with lounge/porn-soundtrack roots. Disco and funk are more represented this time in the band's rock/Latin/dance/kitchen-sink fusion, but emerge more as tributes than as goofy-ass throwbacks. Opener "Nordic Laser" provides some of Plastilina Mosh's familiar musical mugging, grafting a Bob Seger-style piano job onto the unsure footing of drums from a fake "Tomorrow Never Knows" demo version.
Of course, lest the group stray too far into classic-rock territory "Bassass (International Stereo)" crashes right into the middle of things, making damn sure that aggressive, big-bootied house gets its due. Rather than settle strictly for variations of Latin funk mixed in with boyish mischief, the men of P-Mosh play the field without coming off as flaky. Even the trip-to-the-petting-zoo jokiness of "Good Bye Happy Farm" (complete with bleats and whinnies) saunters by with more of a Chico Marx charm than a Jerry Lewis pratfall. Moves like these show that our friends to the south may be growing older, but they'll still jump around in a bumblebee suit and Chuck Taylors.
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