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Meth Math
Chupetones The Quietus , January 22nd, 2024 09:54

Mexican trio Meth Math capture the weirdness of the present while still able to interpret elements of the past and future – albeit haphazardly, finds Puja Nandi

Reggaeton has experienced a kind of rebirth in the last few years, becoming more aligned with the present generation and paving the way for neoperreo, popularised by the likes of Tomasa Del Real and Ms Nina. But rarely do you hear it moulded and melded, even subverting neoperreo, in quite the way that Mexican trio Meth Math does.

Formed in 2016, vocalist Ángel Ballesteros and producers Error.Error and Bonsai Babies, hailing from Hermosillo in northern Mexico, have forged their path in the umbral underground of Mexico City’s DIY scene after drip-feeding their internet fans sporadic tracks in their early days. They now cement themselves with their debut album Chupetones, mixed by experimentalist Nick León.

The debut taps into this transpatial digital world, with one foot in the future reimagining the interplay between music and cultural expression. You might imagine hearing it in a kind of space-age subterranean perreo club somewhere in Latin America. It’s partly this neoteric sensuality which draws you into Meth Math.

Chupetones was preceded in May 2020 by Pompi, an EP diving in and out of dembow rhythms and heavy club beats. That record was a product of the pandemic, as evident in ‘El Vals De La Piedra’ where Ballesteros gets philosophical and talks about embodying a stone under a waterfall: “Fui una piedra tranquila muy feliz / El tiempo pasó y no me moví”. (‘I was a calm and very happy stone / Time passed and I didn’t move’) Then they released the EP M♡rtal, which is mostly pop-orientated electronica and not nearly as strange as its follow-up, Chupetones.

Ballesteros’s vocals are much more heavily autotuned and compressed on this record, such that you might struggle to get the image of a singing baby robot with a penchant for shoegaze-y reggaeton out of your head. But there are some oddly beguiling tracks here. ‘Mantis’ is a buoyant opener with cloying lyrics dappled with wistfulness. The initial trajectory towards the ethereal goes off course when you get to ‘Cyberia’ where there is clearly no math without the meth. The hard kicks are so furiously fast that you would have to change your entire brain chemistry to accommodate the soaring BPM. Watching your niece or nephew on a dance mat in one of those old, decaying arcades might also come to mind.

The high-octane chaos reigns in when you get to ‘Myspace’, a swaying atmospheric lamentation for now-extinct online communities from “año veinte cero seis” (‘2006’). The album bows out with ‘Pocima’, where Ballesteros showcases the dramatic side of her warped vocals, fused with heavy industrial sounds, and mingled with samples of what can only be described as a mechanical monster tearing its way through a city. Chupetones is a strangely compelling record, best enjoyed with your energy replenished and an inclination towards absorbing yourself in a sometimes infernal, sometimes angelically extraterrestrial realm.