I can seriously not believe I never bumped into Radio Zumbido before. Not only are they from Guatemala, my second home, but frontman Juan Carlos Barrios was a member of Bohemia Suburbana, one of the greatest bands Central American rock has ever known. Thank you, Fat Planet, for the discovery!
After he left Bohemia Suburbana, Barrios retreated to the magical landscape of Sololá, where he got inspired by the volcanoes and the pristine waters of Lake Atitlán, or as he puts hit himself:
The sights and sounds of old men discussing politics, chicken truck horns, dusty generations-old salsa and jazz records, and the ubiquitous AM radio [...] emerged to me in a way which transcended cliché and inspired me to express the poetry of my native land.
The result was Los Ultimos Días del AM (The Last Days of AM), a beautiful instrumental album of Guatemalan sounds amidst eerie live guitar and countless triphop loops.
That was five years ago. Now Barrios is more a global resident, hovering between Barcelona and Los Angeles, and the 2007 album Pequeño Transistor de Feria can be seen as a reflection on those cities. Not the palm-lined beaches or the big mansions, but the dusty streets of Barceloneta, or the chaos of a latino district in LA.
Radio Zumbido keeps true to the collage-style AM radio feeling, with the more electronic songs ("El Desierto") strongly reminding me of Boards of Canada. Psychidelica reigns on many tracks ("Third Day In Chinatown" is a guitar solo played backwards), but is never disturbing. It's the scruffy analog-recorded percussion of "Revuelta" that appealed the most to me, but the album is so diverse and layered I'm sure you'll find much more that draws you.
Radio Zumbido - Revuelta