‘Those From Below’ – as the name of this Mexico City band suggests – have been wreaking musical havoc on both domestic and international airwaves since their debut album (released by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label) seven years ago. And what havoc: imagine ska, punk and tango all given a mariachi makeover.
The first indication is, suitably enough, on the opener ‘Resistencia’, a call to action that includes a contribution from Zapatista leader Commandanta Esther. In this light, it becomes clear that their reworking of the Funboy Three hit ‘The Lunatics have Taken Over The Asylum’ is intended to have a special political pertinence.
It could be argued that the fact that Los de Abajos deliver their message – essentially, global human rights – with an accompaniment that’s also international in its appeal and origins could dilute their impact at home. But LDA v The Lunatics has its answer already prepared in the Zapotec-language ‘Tortuga Dub’, which is about more than killing turtles. And in this movement from general to specific lies the album’s strength. Bonus tracks that include guest appearances from Natacha Atlas on the wonderfully sultry ‘Tan Lejos, Tan Cerca’ (So Far, So Near) and the Funboy Three themselves, who return the favour in an English-language version, underline the imaginative links that Los De Abajo have already in place.Louise Gray
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