The Context – Mexico has a rich musical history ranging from traditional styles such as canción Ranchera and corrido to the more European influenced forms established from the mid-1800s onward. Our southern neighbors have produced internationally known pop stars in the likes of Thalía, Natalia Lafourcade, and the late Juan Gabriel and José José. However, the iconography of Mexican-American guitarists and singer/songwriters Carlos Santana and Ritchie Valens helped establish rock music as a staple in 1960s Mexico and beyond. The 1990s saw a resurgence of rock music in Mexico with the formation of groups such as Jumbo, Porter, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Los Jaigüey, and Zoé.
Before becoming a bedrock within the Mexican rock scene, Zoé gained popularity from radio play on Spanish-language stations in America. Eventually, the band broke through and landed a record deal with Sony Music in 2000. After adding notes of Britpop to their grunge-tinged alt-rock sound through their work with producer Phil Vinall, accolades began to accumulate for Zoé. The group won two Latin Grammys for Best Rock Song (“Labios Rotos”) and Best Alternative Music Album (MTV Unplugged: Música De Fondo) in 2011 and win the Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album at the 2018 GRAMMY Awards.
The Content – The quintet ensemble of Zoé initiates their seventh studio album Sonidos De Karmática Resonancia in a resolute fashion with “Popular”—an engaging indie rock assortment beginning with a spacey, Muzak-esque backdrop that crescendos into a sharp groove full of synth-leads and bass lines. Lead vocalist León Larregui flashes his falsetto on the dreamy follow-up “Karmadame,” which packs a synth punch towards the end of the track hearkening to LCD Soundsystem. The nearly minute-long instrumental interlude gives an upbeat, Britpop tone to the track “Velur.”
The opening acoustic guitar picks on “El Duelo” stray slightly from the futuristic motif of the record; however, Zoé maintains the space-dynamic more subtly throughout the production. “SKR” returns more closely to the aforementioned space sound of the record. Zoé slows down the pace on the more ballad-driven “Canción De Cuna Para Marte.” A subdued yet talkative soundscape gives way to another acoustic guitar led piece on the folk-esque “Tepoztlán,” which concludes with a natural acoustic environment.
“Fiebre” brings back the fun-loving spirit of Sonidos De Karmática Resonancia via its pulsating beat and tempo. The lengthiest piece on the project, “Ese Cuadro No Me Pinta,” opens with an edgier guitar riff than its predecessors but develops more cerebrally as the track progresses. As the closing track on the album, “Bestiario” proudly displays the production savvy as the band showcases the guitar-synth fusion exceptionally.
The Skinny – Zoé’s Sonidos De Karmática Resonancia is a polished, other-worldly project that takes its listeners on a sonic journey. Uniquely, the Mexican rockers produce rather lengthy tracks (the shortest being “Velur” at 4:07), yet they do an exceptional job of immersing their audience in the auditory environment established via their astute production. As many records tend to do, the album loses a little momentum towards its backend but the stylistic transitions into ballad and Britpop overshadow the slump. The clean-cut sound of Sonidos De Karmática Resonancia is bound to put Zoé in contention for both Latin Grammys and GRAMMY Awards yet again.
The Rating – 7.6/10
Sonidos De Karmática Resonancia
- El Duelo
- Canción De Cuna Para Marte
- Ese Cuadro No Me Pinta