Friday, April 13, 2012
One of the interesting aspects of the global music culture is the multidisciplinary approach to musical creation by a number of its most influential artists. This is often predicated on the musical/technical flexibility afforded by the remix culture. DJ’s and electronic music, the members of this cohort, tend to assume a number of complimentary roles, producing work as writers, journalists, producers, musicians, and performers. (For more about this, see our recent "Crate-Diggers and Remixers").
An interesting, and musically productive, chapter in this larger development is the Norte Sonoro EP , recently released online by NRMAL records. Curated by Toy Selectah, and featuring artists prominent artists including DJ/Rupture, the music on the EP is the result of the collaboration between a geographically wide-ranging group of DJ’s and some of the most important musicians and sounds from the north of Mexico. Brought together with the financial help from the Mexican government, the stated goal of the project was to “establish a dialogue” between the traditional music of the north and the new generation of polyglot international artists.
The results are fascinating, stylistically varied, and often quite beautiful. Particularly notable is “La Espina Del Cardenche” by Algodon Egipcio (Egyptian Cotton), in which the original guitars and vocals of the source material are chopped into swirling patterns and then dunked into a bath of synth-spirals and stutters, with the end result somehow managing to maintain a sense of organically rooted simplicity while also functioning as a fully modern piece of electronic music.
The week-long residency (which took place last November) culminated in an outdoor festival, in which the various international artists played sets with the Mexican nationals with whom they had been working. According to (participant) DJ Rupture’s Mudd Up Blog this was both totally awesome, and (at least partially) the artistic culmination of the whole process. Although some intense collaborations may have occurred on stage, the tracks on the E.P. seem to exist at a significant remove from the music on which they were based (or rather, from which they were sourced). This isn’t much of a problem for the music itself, which is almost uniformly excellent, but it does beg the question of how much of the process was truly collaborative, and to what extent the sounds of northern mexico may have simply have served as raw material for a notably omniverious set of DJ’s. That said, the spotlight that the project shines on a group of underappreciated (at least in many western circles) Mexican artists is admirable, and may well lead to more opportunities in the future. And the tunes kill. Did we mention that already?
***UPDATE: It turns out that NRMAL is not a record label. Instead, it is a music and arts promoter based in Monterrey, Mexico. For more information, you can check out their website here. Our apology for the mistake.