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For Cinco de Mayo, the Sound of a New Mexico

This is the sound of Cinco de Mayo for a new Mexico: The Tijuana-based Nortec Collective makes a soundtrack for a digital generation, with a mix of traditional norteno accordions, turntables, and electronica.

Tijuana Sound Machine is the work of half of the collective: Fussible (Pepe Mogt) and Bostich (Ramon Amezcua). They continue the amazing deconstruction of norteno DNA: accordions, the acoustic guitar called bajo sexto, the funky two-step polka popular in rural areas along the U.S./Mexican border, and the steady four-on-the-floor beat that can propel a dance floor to delirium.

"Akai 47" represents Nortec's sensibilities at their best. As soon as you get used to the pingy keyboard effects dancing across your headphones, guest artist Juan Tellez starts using the accordion as a percussion instrument. Before too long, he's performing a norteno riff over a mash-up of techno and the Mexican dance groove heard in a thousand bars and dance halls.

Halfway through the song, they mix it up with a banda breakdown reminiscent of the brass bands that are the rage in rural parts of Mexico. Norteno refers to the north of Mexico, and Tijuana, the unofficial capitol of the North, has become much more than a playground for drunken vacationers. It's home to a rich artistic movement that speaks volumes about the young, educated, Internet-connected Mexican. Tijuana Sound Machine is the sound of what happens when Mexicans claim influences from both sides of the border.

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Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.