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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Next, we'll listen to music that is the talk of much of Mexico City. The Mexican Institute of Sound mixes Mariachi with modern music and mixes languages too in an album called "Soy Sauce." NPR's Jason Beaubien sent us this report.

(Soundbite of music)

JASON BEAUBIEN: To understand the Mexican Institute of Sound, it's important to first realize that there is no institute. There isn't even a band. The entire project is the brainchild of just one guy, Camilo Lara. And Lara amuses himself by using the name the Mexican Institute of Sound. In Spanish, the initials are almost the same as the Mexican Institute of Health — the most bureaucratic institution he could think of. It's a bit like calling yourself the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. CAMILO LARA (Musician, Mexican Institute of Sound): Because if you try to do any kind of anything with the Mexican Institute of Health it's like it's a nightmare and it takes forever and there are a million people and you have to get a file and a date and it's a whole part of the Mexican folklore.

(Soundbite of music)

BEAUBIEN: His new album, "Soy Sauce," drifts over a wide musical landscape. Some songs feel reminiscent of '80s British New Wave. There's a love song, "Te Quiero Mucho," that disintegrates into a braying of barnyard animals. He has a Mexican pop star, Paty Cantu, who usually sings soulful love songs in Spanish, appearing on a hip-hop tune in English.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. PATY CANTU(Singer): (Singing) It's hard to understand when there's struggle all around…

BEAUBIEN: Even the title of the new album, "Soy Sauce" is a play on words. Lara says he wanted to create an album with multiple layers to it and the title is part of that. It can be read either in English or Spanish, but the meanings are completely different. In Spanish, soy sauce means I'm a willow tree.

Mr. LARA: I love the poetic image of being a willow and being with a lot of wisdom and life. But at the same time, I love to be a sticky, salty, soy sauce.

BEAUBIEN: During the day, the 33-year-old Lara is an executive at EMI records in Mexico City. He's in charge of signing acts from throughout Latin America. He says he tries to keep his art and his day job separate, but he's obviously well-connected in the music business. For instance, one of the members of the Beastie Boys turns up on his new album.

Probably the oddest song on "Soy Sauce" is a cover of "Bittersweet Symphony" in Spanish, backed by a Mariachi band.

(Soundbite of song, "Bittersweet Symphony")

(Soundbite of singing in Spanish)

BEAUBIEN: "Soy Sauce" is the third album from the Mexican Institute of Sound. Raul Rulo David, the programming director at Reactor 105.7, the local rock station, says it's Lara's best so far, but his praise doesn't extend to the Rolling Stones cover.

Mr. RAUL DAVID VAZQUEZ (Programming Director, Reactor 105.7): It's funny enough it's played on Mariachi. You don't have to sing it like you're drunk. I mean it's so over-the-top it's a joke over the joke, sort of pushing it too hard. I hate it. But some reviewers seem to like it. I hate it.

BEAUBIEN: Rulo however thinks there are other songs on the album that are brilliant, and he says Camilo Lara is the unique force on the Mexico City music scene. One of the other DJs at the station, Evaristo Corona, says Lara's albums are surprising and fresh.

Mr. EVARISTO CORONA (DJ, Reactor 105.7): He's retaking a lot of traditional sounds but combining them with a lot of pop and with hip hop and he's doing - he's crafting sounds that no one else is doing. So that's really important for us, because he's not an original musician.

BEAUBIEN: Some of the sounds are whimsical. There's a little karate chop yelp that shows up in the middle of the song "Karate Kid 2."

(Soundbite of karate chop yelp)

BEAUBIEN: Some of the sounds are political. In his bedroom studio, he has stacks of vinyl records of political speeches from the '50s and '60s, snippets of applause or Mexican politicians making promises pop up in his remixes. But Lara never takes himself too seriously. And the most popular song off "Soy Sauce" is a bilingual called "Get Out on the Dance Floor."

(Soundbite of song, "Get Out on the Dance Floor")

BEAUBIEN: Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Mexico City.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: You can hear more at nprmusic.org. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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