“The mood is so measured, so pitch perfect that you enjoy those ‘soulless’ vocal arrangements”

Because good music journalism is a dying artform – or, depending on your politics, alive and kicking – I asked a small group of hardcore, unforgiving music nerds to review Role-play, my debut LP. I imposed no word limit, but did request an objective opinion. The following critique, which has not been manipulated or edited in any way, is part of a pending batch of reviews. I’ll be publishing all of them in the following weeks.

As a former long-time employee of Amoeba Music, the “worlds largest independent music store,” M. Nero Nava more than qualifies as the quintessential record store nerd (yes, the High Fidelity type). Nava, however, is more Rudolph Valentino than Jack Black. A carefully stylish, opinionated, and cultured man with sharp — and often polarizing — critiques, it was his discerning taste that got him a job as an art director for Rob Nilsson. Of course, Nero is also a great musician, and one can hear him crooning sweet vocals for both City of Women and Barbasteel.

– Marcelo

M. Nero Nava reviews P3CULIAR’s Role-play

By M. Nero Nava

Contrary to P3CULIAR’s pledge to approach music with “soulless instruments” — what we have is an interesting electro/club/pop record full of life and body. Even with all of it’s chirps, blips, bleeps, and 1’s and 0’s — I felt movement and life. It’s wall to wall with tunes gleaming for licensing and all that other 21st century stuff.

I was recently at a nightclub and found the music perplexing and shifty. The club songs were chopped, tempo jumping, and void of mood. Everything was in such in a hurry. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was the DJ, but it seems as if that’s where club music (dance music) is going/at. I never found myself lost on the dance floor.

One of the key — and often maligned — ingredients of dance music is the repetition of the music/beat. P3CULIAR manages to stay current, but stay steadfast in understanding the ingredients to a great night on a sticky, sweaty dance floor. Truly, this album has me craving a buzz and a dark, packed, dance floor. There is muscle and sweat behind the machines.

Now, I’m not one for spacey vocal effects, or robots singing while my body submits to carnality, and this album is filled to the brim with computer-rubbed vocals. Songs like “Look So Good” and “The Well” work though. Again, the mood is so measured, so pitch perfect that you enjoy those “soulless” vocal arrangements.

“Menea” is a favorite of mine (great video too). Shit, I even dig the rap. To you gringos who have never enjoyed a predominantly Latin clientele strip joint — “Menea” is a word I learned at one of those joints. Listen to the song, you’ll figure it out. This is a great genre song. And never once does it feel contrived or bogus. After I heard this “Menea” the first time I found myself checking my jacket for my wallet. It takes you to that place.

P3CULIAR has gone to the dry, dead well of club music and managed to find the life of dance/pop records. It’s never laptoppy — the production is stellar — and it really can be a one stop party. All the ingredients are there for a great night at the club; Role-play is naughty, clean, dirty, melodic, flirty and pushy.

I highly recommend it for a party, a lover, a date, or a stranger.


M. Nero Nava

Role-play, P3CULIAR’s debut LP, out today — Stream full record here!


Role-play, P3CULIAR’s debut LP, was released today through Kin Kon Records in the US, and Casete Records in Europe and Latin America. You can purchase it on iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon. You can also stream the album on Spotify, Bandcamp, or SoundCloud:

Role-play was produced by Ulises Lozano (Kinky, Amandititita, Mexican Dubwiser) and Marcelo. It features collaborations with Cakes Da Killa  (“Menea“) and Sisely Treasure (“Start a Fight”). Full record production details can be found here. The artwork was shot by Javier Romero and a music video for “Wicked” will premiere early next month.

Ali Gua Gua (Kumbia Queers, Ultrasonicas) Reseña Role-play de P3CULIAR

Porque criticar discos no es más que un arte moribundo – o, quizá, la práctica está mejor que nunca – le pedí a un pequeño grupo de “nerds” bastante “snobs” que reseñen Role-play, mi primer LP. No impuse límite de palabras, pero exigí una opinión objetiva. La siguiente crítica, que no ha sido alterada ni manipulada, es una de varias que voy a publicar próximamente.  

Dentro del ámbito musical alternativo, o “underground”, Ali Gua Gua ya no necesita introducción. Pero para aquellos desafortunados que aún no la conocen, Ali es integrante de Las Kumbia Queers, una banda excepcional de cumbia, de Las Ultrasonicas, un emblema del punk mexicano, y también ex integrante de Afrodita. Aparte de componer, cantar y tocar, Ali mezcla, o “pincha”, bajo el seudónimo DJ Guaguis – y lo hace muy bien. La “Jarochilanga” también acaba de publicar Forever Alone, un disco solista producido por Julián Lede, alias Silverio.

– Marcelo

Ali Gua Gua reseña Role-play

Por Ali Gardoki

ali gua gua 2

Siempre me pregunté en que iba a evolucionar la música pop que me gustaba porque lo que más me gusta del pop es que se enorgullece de serlo y nunca trata de encubrirse bajo un halo “rocker”. Es decir Madonna nunca pretendió ser “la reina del rock” sino que portaba LO pop con la frente en alto.

Por eso creo que el disco debut de P3CULIAR emparenta el pop norteméricano (México esta en Norteamérica!)/ibérico 80´s y 90´s y lo empapa con dosis de tecnologías nuevas, evolucionando en el sonido Electro-contagioso de Role-play, que ya desde el título, rinde homenaje a las “Role models” de P3CULIAR desde un lugar moderno y contemporáneo. Algo así como nostalgia futurista.

Piensa en el Italo-disco de Yuri, en el High- Energy de Alaska/Fangoria, en el techno pop de Mecano, Aqua y Whingfield, en los teclados de Daniela Romo y Amanda Miguel aderezados con el sentido del humor de María Daniela y su sonido Lasser. Role-play es electroclash y pista de baile fashionista, con un tinte latino omnipresente en forma de Bachatrón y Electro-cumbia peculiarmente cheesy, campy y cool.

La música de Marcelo C. Baez suena a Guadalajara, su ciudad natal, lugar en que la gente puede apreciar un buen Synth Pop y donde bandas como Casino Shangai, Virus y Miranda son reverenciadas sin temor a poner en tela de juicio la sexualidad del escucha. Pero la música de Marcelo también suena a Nueva York, la ciudad adoptiva que lo catapultó como el Michael Alig de la fiesta en español con Nacotheque como primera referencia, fiesta en medio del multi kulti Chinatown donde se han presentado toda clase de celebridades del tercer mundo con éxito rotundo en la noche gran manzanera.

Es esta misma locación (El Bar Fontana´s en el 102 de la calle Eldridge en Manhattan) la que engalana su primer video “Menea” donde hace mancuerna con el rapper Cakes Da Killa, el cual junto a Big Freedia y Mikky Blanco están protagonizando lo que se esta definiendo como queer hip hop. Pueden ver el vídeo aquí donde Juan Data lo define como “Mexplotation”.

Así que el pop del futuro que me gusta no suena a Carla Morrison ni a Los Daniels. Se parece más a Role-Play de P3CULIAR sin duda.


Drum machines have no soul, which is why I use them


Role-play, P3CULIAR’s debut LP, will be released on Tuesday, April 8th by Casete Records in Latin America & Europe, and Kin Kon Records in the US. Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play – you’ll be able to find it everywhere. A few of you may acquire a limited vinyl pressing (500 copies) if you participate in the pre-sale.

Let’s talk record production: I experimented a lot with pitch shifting, a process which raises or lowers the pitch of recorded audio, while writing most of the songs on Role-play. Since my original idea was to have certain guests – some male, some female – sing on the final tracks, I recorded most of the demos using my own manipulated vocals. But then these vocals, which were basically placeholders, charmed me; the odd quality of the effect gave the songs an interesting layer of artifice.

Many musicians, singers, and producers – especially analog purists – are absolutely horrified by the idea highly-processed audio. They would say it lacks “warmth,” or something along those lines, which is probably right. But some of the songs in Role-play have dark and sinister themes, so I wanted no warmth. While programming the sequences of these songs I though of an old-school goth friend and the hilarious bumper sticker he proudly placed on his car: “Drum machines have no soul.”

Songwriting is half storytelling, half acting. Composers often create a story – not always personal – then perform their tale as a protagonist or a narrator. I decided to call my debut Role-play because I pretend to be certain characters in my songs. Pitch shifting allows me to sound like them.  

Ah, but I know you won’t be able to live with yourself unless you hear my natural singing voice, so I left some vocals unprocessed (the verses on “Party Girl,” for example). Plus I did get a couple of guests to perform on the record: The young and talented rapper Cakes Da Killa (“Menea”), and the charismatic Sisely Treasure (“Start A Fight”). There’s ten songs on Role-play and they’re eclectic mix of funky pop, eerie cumbia, tropical rap, and dark electro. I co-produced the record along with Ulises Lozano (Kinky, Amandititita, Mexican Dubwiser), and will begin shooting a video for “Wicked” at the end of the month with the Vidi Vici TV crew.

And no, the picture above is not the record cover, but you will see it very soon.

Role-play tracklist:

  • 1. Hazme El Amor
  • 2. Wicked
  • 3. Menea Feat. Cakes Da Killa
  • 4. Start A Fight Feat. Sisely Treasure
  • 5. Look So Good
  • 6. Star
  • 7. Party Girl
  • 8. Walk Under The Moonlight
  • 9. Yo Te Amo, Te Amo
  • 10. The Well

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