For a decade, Nortec Collective has reshaped the Tijuana music scene and provided one of Latin music’s most exciting fusions, blending traditional norteño influences with electronic or techno elements.
Following up 2008’s acclaimed Tijuana Sound Machine, Ramon Amezcua and Pepe Mogt are back as Nortec Collective Presents Bostich + Fussible. Longtime Nortec fans will find Bulevar 2000 to be more sophisticated and more tightly composed than the previous Bostich and Fussible album, which had a more raw feel.
Bulevar 2000 shows more diversity than previous Nortec albums and includes the addition of lyrics to the catalog. “I Count the Ways,” the first single from the album, features a collaboration with Kylee Swenson of the electronic group Loquat. Electronic artists using female vocals sometimes sounds forced and unnecessary, but this not the case here. Swenson’s sexy, posh vocals carry the song. This is Bostich and Fussible’s most glammed-up song, but don’t be mistaken: the potpourri of norteño sounds is still ever-present. They are simply more tightly composed. The classic tuba is the still the bass for the song, but it’s the orchestra strings that provide the perfect background to Swenson’s sultry voice. Everything about this song oozes nightlife from the tango-fused accordion to jazzy horns.
“Punta Banda” is my personal favorite, a very discoteca-friendly song. It’s as if there was DJ quietly playing some dub step beats in a fancy night club and then suddenly a group of rowdy norteño band members came in blaring their loud horns and showing off their flashy accordion .The outcome is an infectious fusion dance number with plenty of synth action and shades of cumbia. This is what I presume and hope norteño music will sound like in the year 2030 (or sooner).
The album does have its weak moments. The second half doesn’t quite live up to the quality of the first half. “Oh Yes” was not quite the finish I was expecting from Bostich and Fussible. It was as if they were trying to channel some Beatlesy, Hindu music into their sound, but it never comes full circle.
Bulevar 2000 is nothing short of what we expect from Nortec and not once will you suspect the duo is settling for one sound. Yes, some songs are far more impressive and some are just skipable, but they each still have a unique and fresh ring to them. If Tijuana Sound Machine was the journey through the heart of Tijuana, then Bulevar 2000 is the journey out of Tijuana, the exploration of new sounds, the drive though musical alleys not previously driven though. Bulevar is Nortec’s most diverse album to date. Whether it’s the best, well that is left up to everyone’s interpretation. One thing is certain: Your ears will not know what expect.