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Radio Zumbido



When Guatemalan son Juan Carlos Barrios retreated to the rural countryside near lake Atitlan (after the break-up of his hugely successful band Bohemia Suburbana) to write some new music, sartori struck, and he found his deepest inspiration in the very sights and sounds of the homeland he had always taken for granted. The sights and sounds of old men discussing politics, chicken truck horns, dusty generations-old salsa and jazz records, and the ubiquitous AM radio (the only frequency available there in rural areas) emerged to him in a way which transcended cliché and inspired him to express the poetry of his native land.

Barrios gathered field recordings and crucial rhythmic and percussive samples (because dancing is no less important than poetry), then played over them on guitar, with the accompaniment of a bassist and a drummer. The trio created a compelling hybrid audio document of samples and live instrumentation, an aesthetic which has been manifesting itself in various parts of the globe for decades, but which remains only as fresh and progressive as the the musicians who use the technology. Recently, this musical weltschung has been expressed most emphatically by Mexico's Nortec Collective, to which Radio Zumbido could be considered a long-lost Central American cousin.

Barrios went back to Guatemala City, where he found the title for his album amid the onslaught of Americanised megawatt FM stations: Los Ultimos Dias del AM ? a poetic last stand against pop culture globalization. The eleven songs on Los Ultimos Dias del AM enact a different kind of globalization, one that favors human interests over corporate ones, in which musicians share the mix of their homeland experiences and their own emerging musical vision in an irresistible way with other like-minded global citizens. Released on Palm in late '02, the album features "Livingston Buzz," a celebration of man's earthbound state, centered around a hot Garifuna drumming circle.

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