Plastilina dancing in Mexico's mosh pit
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By Donna Freydkin
(CNN) -- In the singularly fluid world of Plastilina Mosh, harmonicas and violins mingle amicably with metal, jazz and rap to produce a fusion of groovy hip-hop with a touch of punk and a pinch of techno.
Plastilina, the substance, is the Spanish equivalent of Play-Doh. And the Mexican duo Plastilina Mosh twists, stretches, and plies an amalgamation of musical styles to produce an act most often likened to Beck and the Beastie Boys.
Yes, that would be Mexico, the country south of the border not exactly renowned for spawning ingenious hip-hop/rap combos. Yet after signing with EMI Mexico only a year after forming their band, Plastilina Mosh's major-label debut "Aquamosh" became EMI's fastest selling album in Mexico since Selena. In their home country, they regularly sell out concert venues with crowds that would do the Beasties justice.
So, perhaps thousands of faithful moshers can't be wrong.
Mix of multilingual rap, swanky lounge-lizard tempos
Take 25-year-old Alejandro Rosso, with his training in classical and jazz music and his love of timeless musicians such as Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock, throw in 22-year-old Jonas, who played in punk bands and was influenced by Nirvana, and you wind up with a mix of multilingual rap, swanky lounge-lizard tempos, frisky hip-hop and playful, inane lyrics.
"Aquamosh," the band's first major-label release, somehow retains its "recorded in the garage in our spare time" feel of independent albums. It's a startling brew of both the slinky and the sloppy, showcasing Rosso and Jonas' vastly differing musical backgrounds and interests, which Rosso says are meant to remain precisely individual.
"We do what we do because we love it and we try to be successful at it and to make it as fun as possible," says Rosso of the album. "Our musical styles were never intended to be blended. We make songs and mix our two approaches."
From the slick strains of "Ode To Mauricio Garcés" and the pornographic throb of "Bungaloo Punta Cometa," to the metal-new wave blend of "Banana's Bar," "Aquamosh" is the musical potpourri of two young guys raised on Nintendo and replicating the vivid, psychedelic nature of video games in their music.
Rosso and Jonas are both from the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, where they were active in the local band circuit. The two came together randomly, and their album is a manifestation of their diverse backgrounds, with Rosso on keyboards, programming, arranging and background vocals and Jonas on lead vocal and guitar. Now, they're cruising the States on the tail end of their U.S. tour, hoping to seduce Americans with their infectious rhythms.
And for Americans, even the language shouldn't be a barrier. The lyrics on "Aquamosh" are as banal as the album is complex. Rosso and Jonas are content to generate music about nothing more significant than afros, monster trucks and porno shops.
"The dynamic of the album and the way it unfolds is infantile, fluffy and warm," Rosso explains.
Despite success, no pressure
Rosso says he and bandmate Jonas are just a couple of inquisitive guys tinkering with sounds and having a blast making their first album. But despite their sudden thrust into the big time, the two-year-old duo insists it feels no pressure.
"We had fun creating the songs and basically, we made the music to make ourselves happy. It's just happy music," says Rosso.
Plastilina Mosh's success is not part of any master musical scheme to rule MTV, nor do the guys have any grandiose plans for the future, states Rosso.
"We're glad to finally have a good album out, and everything that comes after that is extra," says Rosso. "If America is interested, that's great. If not, we'll be OK too. We're not trying to push for the crossover really hard."
Basically, whatever will be, will be, he says. After completing their current U.S. club tour, the duo plans to return to Mexico for about six months to work on a new album that may feature an orchestra and organs, as well as more Latin American music and reggae. But continuously being on the road has taken a toll, says Rosso.
"The single biggest change for us has been having to sacrifice a lot of your personal life. I don't know the effect it will have on our music in the future, but all of our inspirations are missing because we are on the road a lot," says Rosso. "Is that going to be a good thing or bad thing? We don't know."
Video forged Plastilina Mosh's star
The video-friendly duo owes much of its success to MTV Latin America, which transformed Plastilina Mosh into Mexico's most popular act through relentless airing of its video for "Mr. P. Mosh."
Perched at the top of MTV Latin America for seven weeks, the video is a combination of "Clerks" meets "Striptease," featuring the two guys as they follow around an aging '70s soft-porn star.
Other videos are just as charming. In "Nino Bomba," Rosso and Jonas mimic the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage," while in "Ode to Mauricio Garcés," they pay homage to a legendary Mexican movie star from the 1960s and '70s.
And the band has had an unusual synergy with the fashion world. The clothing company Diesel sold "Aquamosh" in its stores, displaying posters and in-store signage of the band, and using the act in newspaper and magazine advertisements in Mexico, while shoe maker Dr. Marten, maker of Doc Martens, distributed some 400,000 copies of a sampler CD to participating Doc Martens retailers this summer.
But all the trappings aside, Rosso says he and Jonas are focused on creating music that speaks to them. And if it connects with others, all the better.
"We are not really worried if anything happens for us," says Rosso. "We want to have an album out that we like and music that speaks to us."
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