Borderline Latin is an exploration of the influence of Latin music in styles, places and rhythms beyond its traditional borders, and of different types of cross-pollination between Latin music and other musical creatures. Each week, we will feature a song or musical style whose rhythm, themes, melodic inflections or influences have earned it the name of Borderline Latin.
They wear luchador masks and sometimes use a Mexican flag during their performances, which has led some to dub them a Mexploitation band. They present themselves as a musical and cinematic experience, using takes from old movies in their videos and recording their own version of soundtracks of old spaghetti westerns. They brag about their “Mexican strength” combined with “Norwegian quality,” which has produced a musical genre they call “Mariachi death surf.” They are Los Plantronics, coming at you directly from Oslo.
Los Plantronics have been around since 1996. Since then, they have released a string of records, and have been included in any number of European compilations. Their style combines a little bit of garage rock, surf and punk, with a heavy dose of brass and metals, and it has progressed into a mostly instrumental dance-off. They often rely on other artists, recording their own versions of songs than range from the theme of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, to “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” –both can be found in their 2007 album ¡Rancho Notorious! But their original tunes do not lack that Mexican strength they pride on possessing. They have also earned some street cred, having performed in Mexico City alongside Mexico’s own surf band Lost Acapulco.
The surf rock scene may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but you have to give these Norwegians a lot of credit for their inventiveness and disposition to fuse, mix and match such different traditions. Check out the video for their song “Black Cactus Stampede.” The scenes come from Russian director Sergei Eisenstein’s posthumous film ¡Que Viva México! –also a hallucinating, borderline Latin experiment.