At the head of the borderland movement of Tijuana, Mexico, is a group of musicians, VJs, filmmakers, and graphic designers known as Nortec Collective. Nortec's name, like its art, is a fusion of First and Third World elements and explains the group's approach to making music. Norteño is a form of popular, northern Mexican folk-dance music, evolved from German polka, that incorporates groaning accordion, rapid-fire timbales, and slinky acoustic guitar. Tec is short for techno, of course, and the electrocentricity that goes with it. Nortec Collective brings the two together in an unlikely marriage that's as festive, sinister, wildly evocative, and strangely thrilling as the city that inspires it.
This third installment of the Tijuana Sessions series finds the core beat alchemists of the group -- Fussible, Bostich, Hiperboreal, Clorofila, and Panoptica -- extending their sequenced, laptop-driven sound with extra, organic sonics. Live tuba, trumpet, clarinet, upright bass, and vocals all lend a loose, jazzy, roc 'n' rol feel to these simmering breakbeat floor-fillers and downtempo head-nodders. Unlike a lot of multiculti, sample-happy "worldtronica," Nortec makes truly gritty compositions with a sense of humor and sophistication that stems as much from Tijuana's poverty as from its position as a millennial trading post between two exploding economies. "Esa Banda en Dub," the collective's collaboration with Arizona Tex-Mex jazzers Calexico, rambles down a dim, dusty, valley road with a glowstick in one hand and a blunt in the other. Other tracks feature a heavier house thump ("Revu Rockers," "Narcotéque") or funky, hip-hop snap ("Don Loope," "Almada"). The feeling of cultural collision is palpable but also natural and irresistible.
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