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Nortec Collective: Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3

Album: Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3
Label: Nacional

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Some fusion exercises snake and bend like algebra; others fall in line like simple arithmetic. Nortec Collective tends toward the latter, but its straightforward equations prove no less infectious for their ease of use. Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3 mostly consists of principal parts—traditional Mexican folk and tweaked electronic music—but the highlights raise the question of why such a pairing sounds new and novel this far down the line.

If nothing else, Nortec Collective pays ample attention to the tuba, which rumbles at the base of tracks that make a grand game of rumbling. Songs like "Tengo La Voz" and "Don Loope" twitch over fidgety beats processed into tight shapes, but they're less dance music than mid-tempo lounge excursions with a good bit of snap in their step. "Funky Tamazula" whips cool wah-wah guitar and blasts of mariachi horns into a hot lather, while "Dandy Del Sur" slinks behind a sandy shuffle of rhythm dotted with cowbell taps.

Beneath it all lies the low-end: turbulent tubas, billowing kick drums, and basslines that work like the electronic equivalent of those fat Mexican guitars. Nortec Collective's rhythmic metabolism grows more fitful as the album progresses, but the lazy, languorous bottoms lend a welcome shambling aspect to tracks that occasionally flirt with glossy cosmopolitan house music better suited for a fancy pool than a swimming hole. Save for the regrettable vocal pop song "Tijuana Makes Me Happy," Tijuana Sessions makes the most of sounding dry and dusty.