VA: Random V1
Mil Records

From their Tijuana base, Nortec Collective's Latinsizer, Mendoza, tre/molo, and Point Loma produce “nortec” (“norte,” meaning northern Mexico, merged with “techno”) by transforming traditional norteño and tambora sounds—Mexican variations on German polka and waltz styles performed with accordions, snare drums, and tubas—into electronic soundscapes. Given that the style crystallized with the 1999 single “Polaris” by Bostich (Ramon Amezcua aka Point Loma) and subsequently Tijuana Sessions, Vol. 1, one might expect Random V1, a new compilation of experimental Collective material, to extend the tradition yet, surprisingly, it hardly shows its geographical roots. Like Murcof and Antiguo Autómata Mexicano, the Collective's artists use technology to transcend their home locale for Detroit- and Berlin-influenced spheres.

The comp includes a handful of tracks from each of the four artists with Mendoza's (Roberto Mendoza aka Panoptica) and tre/molo's (Jorge Verdin) impressing most. The former's “Ruana” is a beautifully chilled opener of Indian flavourings and laconically funky skitter and in “Nylon 2,” the best of tre/molo's three tracks, chugging microhouse beats percolate alongside arching overlays of electrical glistenings, the track reminiscent of Murcof in its blending of dramatic ambiance with techno. Also memorable are Point Loma's forays into scuzzy goosestep (“Verberation”) and acidic dub-techno (“Mono”).

Aside from the Latin guiro percussion heard in Latinsizer's mellow schaffel “Rubiconga (Rare Sensations rmx),” Mendoza 's “Ojos Bonitos” and tre/molo's “El Ya Sabia” offer two rare instances where traditional Mexican instruments are audible: Mendoza pairs chopped acoustic strums with bubbly microhouse, while tre/molo joins his glitchy guitar to jittery beats and bright piano ripples. The minimal presence of Mexican elements may please or disappoint, depending on the listener; regardless, the collection serves as a thoroughly credible sampling of current styles—microhouse, techno, dub, schaffel—with nary an accordion (recognizably at least) in sight.

February 2005