NORTEC COLLECTIVE with SCAPEGOAT WAX at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Sunday (December 9). $12.50. 416-598-4753.
From the Nortec handle adopted by the loft-dwelling Tijuana posse of producers, graphic artists and fashion designers, you'd expect their norteña-techno soundtrack to involve some spirited accordion wheeze set to fast, snapping Latin beats. Nope.
In fact, you'd have to listen closely to the Nortec Collective's Tijuana Sessions Volume 1 (Palm Pictures) to pick out any squeeze-box samples whatsoever.
There's nothing overtly "Mexican" about the Nortec sound, which actually has more in common with the minimalist glitch-techno coming out of San Francisco. But then there are obvious elements drawn from 80s European electro-pop and Brit industrial programming that make it something else entirely.
"Growing up in a border town like Tijuana," explains Roberto Mendoza a.k.a. Panóptica from a stop in Seattle, "we were all more influenced by what we heard on San Diego radio than anything from southern Mexico.
"As teenagers we were rebelling against the music of our parents and popular culture -- both Mexican and American. When three of us in Nortec formed the techno-pop group Artefacto in the mid-80s, we looked overseas for inspiration and found Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Cabaret Voltaire. That's our roots."
While there are subtle references to the rhythms of norteña in the dubby reverberations of the Nortec rumble, there's nothing obvious about their sound or laptop performances that would indicate their geographical origin. They could just as easily be from Cologne as Juarez.
It's something they feel compelled to address with the follow-up recording.
"We realize that we need to have a sound that pinpoints where we're from. The next step for the Nortec Collective will be working more closely with real musicians to incorporate the sound of the accordion, strings and horns in what we do -- at least in the studio. But it would probably be way too expensive to tour with all those musicians." TIM PERLICH