Camilo Lara is a busy man. In the past few years, he has collaborated with his pal Toy Selectah on a guest-heavy, globetrotting megaproject known as Compass, produced a comeback album for cumbia legends Los Ángeles Azules, paid tribute to Morrissey with Spanish-language covers of his songs, and consulted on music for video games and movies, the latest being Pixar’s Coco. Although this has no doubt given Lara plenty of satisfaction, his main project, Mexican Institute of Sound, has been put on the back burner for a while. Disco Popular is about to change that.
MIS has been part of the Mexican musical map for a long time now, thanks to Lara’s ear for catchy hooks and rhythms. The project has carried the torch for the late-90s wave of sample-heavy outfits like Titán and Plastilina Mosh, as well as other acts who have mixed electronic music with regional sounds successfully, like Nopal Beat and Nortec Collective. MIS has also been able to find an audience abroad, thanks to sets at festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza.
Lara’s fifth album as MIS, Disco Popular, is a perfect embodiment of the project’s sound and concept. The album presents us with an eclectic selection of beats, including cumbia, danzón, salsa, mambo, old school hip-hop, and dembow; it’s a globalist take on dance music that fuses high and low culture, blurring the lines between styles and genres, delivered with kitschy abandon. One moment there’s a sample straight out of a Bollywood film, and the next there’s a cha cha cha chorus. Meanwhile, rhythmic vocals range from funny observations to call-and-response choruses and demands to get down. This is music designed to make you get on your feet.
The album was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica; Mexico City; Tucson, AZ; and Los Angeles, CA. It was mixed by longtime Beastie Boys engineer Mario Caldato Jr. and features collaborations with La Yegros, Adán Jodorowsky, Calexico, Toots and The Maytals and legendary Jamaican session players Sly and Robbie. Like most of his endeavors, Disco Popular delivers Camilo Lara’s appetite for funk in all its possible mutations.
Mexican Institute of Sound’s Disco Popular is out now on Yebo Music.