Name: Centavrvs (Don’t worry, just pretend every “v” is a “u,” it’ll all be okay)
Where They’re From: Mexico City
When They started: 2011
Genre: Mexican Regional Electronic
Sounds Like: Art-school nerds took over your Regional Mexican radio station and painted it Technicolor.
Whatever you thought about the Mexican cultural scene, you are probably wrong. It’s even better than that.
In November, to celebrate the Mexican Revolution, the federal cultural ministry (known as Conaculta) commissioned a super-group of Mexican underground music scenesters to make experimental re-imaginings of Mexican folks songs. The group, called Centavrvs, then performed that concert in sync with a bizarre skyscraper-height light statue in downtown Mexico city, in association with the Center of Digital Culture. Yes, Mexico has a freaking government supported Center of Digital Culture. Oh yeah, and there were fireworks, lots of them.
Centavrvs formed in 2011 out of members from a bunch of well-known Mexican bands including Los Dorados and Neon Walrus (not to mention, swoon, Natalia Lafourcade’s backing band), with a mission that surprisingly few Mexican groups take on: to radically transform Mexican traditional music for the 21st century. The music they created for the November performance (which is also the music from their 2nd EP Aniv de la rey, out February 5) was based on well-known corridos – Mexican epic song-poems about lovesick soldiers and brave outlaws, etc.
The corridos, best known in their tuba-licious oom-pah polka format, become psychedelic folk odysseys spanning every genre from hazy surf-rock to galloping electronic pop and back again. The album is full of luscious production, laden with guitar effects, sly electric pianos, big trumpets and oodles of percussion. The result is a really fresh way of hearing Mexico, its deep roots and vibrant future co-mingling in one place.
Check out this version of “La carcel de Cananea, ” a classic corrido that tells the story of a bloody 1906 miner’s strike in Northern Mexico, and famously interpreted by Mexican badass/singer Chavela Vargas (RIP).