Album Review: Nortec Collective – Nortec Collective Presents Bostich+Fussible: Bulevar 2000

If there was one advantage to growing up in Phoenix, AZ, (other than that I now can withstand temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit) it’d have to be my exposure to Norteño music — a polka-related genre from northern Mexico. Whether inside an awesome taco shop or walking through certain neighborhoods, residents of Phoenix are inundated with Norteño. So, after years of hearing this music in the background, I thought I had a firm grasp on the genre–that is until I discovered the Nortec Collective. Comprised of four musicians from Tijuana, this ensemble (represented on this release by two members, Bostich and Fussible) takes the traditional horns and accordion of Norteño and kicks it into a new level with the sounds of techno. I don’t think we’re in Phoenix anymore, Toto.

If Daft Punk had been born in Guadalajara, they might have been the brains behind “Radio Borderland”. Vocodered voices lead the way into a prototypical accordion groove, with sparse breaks and technologically transmogrified horns tossed in for good measure. It’s a slow, sultry Norteño groove taking on a more dance music swing, which would otherwise dumbfound a lot of folks on the dance floor but is a breath of fresh air in a sound that can be entirely stagnant. “Last View From Slussen” is a ballad of ambling accordion and strummy guitar that cluelessly wanders to its final destination: a landscape of amalgamated sounds and cheery, ethereal romance. “Must Love”, as its name implies, is a melodious, bubbly, and understated number that power-drills a way into your ear canal. It’s 10 kinds of sweetness and not of any definitive genre, standing as a cutesy rainbow-colored hybrid of ambience, effects, and a rhythm that grabs you by the hips tout de suite.

The great part about Norteño music (other than the occasional accordion solo) is the tradition of folk-y storytelling. Thankfully in English, songs like “Bulevar 2000” and “Centinela” are gorgeous examples of the way to tell a truly powerful story influenced by both genres. Taking a cue from the sparsity of techno, “Bulevar 2000” is a powerful number, with lyrics like poetry (“Driving till we make this nightmare untrue/This is not a love song/Driving alone reminds me of you”) set to some of the most moody horns and minimalist guitar work on the whole album. With bits of folklorico and jazz and blues, it’s a mishmash of eras and cultures that violently rips at the heartstrings. As far as more concrete tales of lost love, “Centinela” is a funk-inspired, Cake-ian sing-talk ballad of two souls intertwined forever and Dia De Los Muertos as if sung through a megaphone. Both of these, while pleasing to their ear, are awe-inspiring for their status as literary pieces of mastery.

It’s my status as a Phoenician that perhaps gave me a better understanding of the ins and outs of the Nortec Collective. But with their unique fusion of sounds literally worlds apart and a penchant for being lyrically insightful and still totally groove-inducing, geography has little to do with what is sure to be their instant appeal.


Follow Consequence