Nortec Collective is a rare techno band. Unlike a sizeable chunk of techno music makers, they don’t fidget with synthesizers and analogs to make music that floats away from earthly sounds. They don’t peddle out acid-flash rave music or metallic concertos dancing around robotic voices. Instead, this five-piece band, going by the pseudonyms Fussible, Bostich, Panóptica, Clorifila and Hiporboreal, uses techno to megaphone the music of their roots. Thus they chose the name “Nortec,” which is a combination of the word “norteño” (the style of music in the Northern region of Mexico) and techno.
WHEN: 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8
WHERE: The Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Nortec Collective’s hometown of Tijuana is a limbo land near the U.S.-Mexico border, defined by its ephemeral inhabitants: folks from the tropical countries passing through to the States, or American partygoers heading south for the Tequila, salt and fresh limes. The shadow of the border casts an ironic haze over the nomadic population, an obscurity accelerated by narcotic traffickers and crowded sweatshops. With such dynamic terrain as home base, the Collective was more compelled to toy with the sounds of home than with the ethereal club thump of traditional techno.
Every song on their new album, “Tijuana Sessions Volume 3,” is a whole community event, as each track is made up of recycled and re-mixed scraps from sessions by local sinaloense and timbora players. The guys have been known to raid studios for cast-off recording sessions, only to glean the catchy bits, play ’em forward and back and add their own comic captions where they see fit. There is nothing inorganic about the result: sly accordions, serenading trumpets and bottom-of-the-drawer doo-dads mix together to create a hyper-Latin melee.
“Olvidela Compa” is a slow, waltzing track, full of snake rattles and gentle drum rolls. The sounds come together with the seduction of a lazy day, infusing it with the kind of stiff heat that floats through their storefronts and porches.
The pace picks up on “Tengo la Voz,” an addictively catchy salute that bounces from horn to horn, with killer breakdowns deceptively stripped of their electronic feel. It’s easy to forget that you’re not hearing the lips of the members fueling the air in their own lungs into the instruments on the tracks.
They even bring us back to the ’70s with “Funky Tamazula,” whispered poetry strings hover over the lightning flash rhythms that give the track a Motown groove.
They possess a generous talent for managing space in a song, never lagging, never resorting to avant-garde methods of torturing audiences with idle moments. Instead, most of their songs give off a constant, flirtatious sense of promise, sounding like they’re always about to dive into an even more energetic wormhole in the jam. And they do.
“Dandy del Sur” is the most techno-sounding song, skipping along on head-throbbing rhythms that pick up speed with strange, shoe-scuffing noises. It’s easy to picture one of Quentin Tarantino’s buff-biceped female starlets beating someone up to this track.
If Tijuana sounds anything like the NC’s sessions named in its honor, then “the gateway to Mexico” must be fertile ground for parties of the Collective’s magnitude.