We had already told you about Norte Sonoro, the multimedia project that explores sounds of Northern Mexico through sound experimentation. It included a series of mini-residences in the city of Monterrey, Mexico as well as a free music festival.
The first edition took place in November 2011, where Algodón Egipcio (Venezuela), Chancha Vía Circuito (Argentina), DJ Rupture (US), Helado Negro (Ecuador/US), Mumdance (UK) and White Rainbow (US) participated. These artists worked in Toy Selectah‘s studio (he co-curated the project), and used cumbia, canto cardenche and norteña sounds as raw material for creating original tracks. The local musicians that recorded these sounds were Javier Villarreal (the guitarist from Bronco), Los Cardencheros de Sapioriz, Grupo Esencias and Osvaldo Lizcano with Enlace Vallenato.
Today we are very excited to release the first Norte Sonoro EP, which includes the songs that resulted from these collaborations.
Upon their arrival, we gave our visitors a sound bank which included unmixed tracks specially recorded for Norte Sonoro by local and regional artists in different genres: chotis, huapango norteño, polka, redova and cumbia colombiana from Monterrey, both in rapidita and rebajada variations. They also used the music of Los Cardencheros de Sapioriz, who recorded songs like ‘Yo ya me voy a morir a los desiertos’, as well as the guitars from Javier Villarreal (Bronco).
The artists told us a little bit about what they did with the sounds and these pieces. To download the full EP for free, you can go to the Norte Sonoro Bandcamp. And if you are interested in creating your own remix, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll gladly send you the Norte Sonoro sound banks.
“Before I even started working on my piece, I knew I didn´t want to focus on just one of the musical styles that we were working with. So I started to take several elements: bajo sexto, the ‘caja’ from the cumbia, redova accordion, the percussions from the ‘cumbión’ and the accordion from the chotis piece. And of course, the chorus from the Cardenche piece ‘Yo ya me voy a morir a los desiertos’. I tweaked everything slightly, cut and pasted carefully, paid attention to the song´s dynamics, and included some signature Algodón Egipcio sounds to develop a song that almost sounds pop, and that has an interesting progression that I love.“ —Algodón Egipcio
“I was into the cumbia styles from Monterrey before I even went there. I identified particularly with the slow, heavy sounds I found in these cumbias. I chose sounds based on that; I wanted to make a cumbia rebajada with that cadence style and give it a dub groove.“ —Chancha Vía Circuito
“For the Norte Sonoro project, I was invited to Monterrey for several days, to work with several regional musicians, leading up to a free public concert. I paired up with Enlace Vallenato – we decided that for the concert, they would play a short set, then I’d join them for three songs, adding beats, sound FX and scratches, and doing a little live dubbing on the lead accordion. It was a slow crossfade between their bouncy cumbia jams to my solo DJ set.
We rehearsed in Toy Selectah’s studio. Labbing up with Enlace Vallenato, was great – the ‘blind date’ awkwardness quickly melted away and we set about listening, learning how to twist together our various musical idiom into something strong. Eduardo Galeano calls music “a language where all languages meet,” and he’s right.
Towards the end of the rehearsal, Enlace Vallenato hit on a low-slung groove that really worked. We’d already figured out the shape of the concert, and Toy was like: “let’s record this! Right now.” And so we did. It was amazing to see Toy in action. First off, his studio is magnificient. People talk a lot about how with a cracked copy of FruityLoops you can make incredible music (and it’s true), but seeing Toy at work, recording and directing Enlace Vallenato floored me, reminding me of how important real-world brick & mortar spaces of shared creation are. Toy’s a consummate producer– coaching the musicians, adjusting the recording setup for maximum quality, all the while keeping the vibes right. Later that night he & I returned to do some editing on the session files, and I took those back with me to Brooklyn for the remix.
The main collaboration between Enlace Vallenato and I happened en vivo at the Norte Sonoro party, so I felt that this remix should flip things and offer a serious departure from their original. I asked Ben Lee aka Baby Copperhead, to add live banjo. I sped things up, brought in several synths playing new melodies developed with Ben. I left in some of the original accordion, and build a new synthed up soundworld around their rock-solid percussion.” ―DJ Rupture
“This collection of songs I put together for Norte Sonoro is about daydreams based initially on the Cardenche recordings. It is also an impressionistic interpretation of traveling to unknown places without any kind of preparation for the trip.
The songs were broken apart by zooming into the in between sounds that make up tonal phrases and melodic ideas. Within each piece, I would try to find a bridge that used vocals to emphasize texture, balance and outer body ideas. The root of where I thought the Cardenche vocals came from seemed to be almost this innate form in humans everywhere. A form of crying, the singing wasn’t really based in any history other than just a really pure form of emotion. A lot of these descriptions of what I did are kind of academic and maybe even obvious, but it’s harder to describe the sound of music than it is to hear it. I’m hoping the small window I painted with this EP conveys the richness of life in Monterrey that I experienced.” ―Helado Negro
“The aim for my remix was to keep the flavor of the original track, while at the same time putting a UK twist on it. I wanted to make an instrumental, so that there was room for an MC or singer to go over the top, since often when I play in the UK I have an MC with me.“ ―Mumdance
“I basically wanted to travel back in time and remember the cadence and texture of the unforgettable Bronco guitar sounds, and I added a bit of 2012 Toy Selectah chaos.“ ―Toy Selectah
“I think I started out by taking the accordion phrases and chopping them up into a few different pieces that could loop in and out of phase with each other in ways related to the original harmonic tension, but also otherworldly.
I deeply affected them with various pitch and timing algorithms but tried to retain the sonic recognition of the instrument. i then took the congas and guacharacas, making loops that were both forward and in reverse, in and out of phase. added a west coast clap beat, some deep bass synths, echo swirls, side-chained reverb swells and a bunch of deeply effected vocals and synth solos and mixed it all together into one big mess. like a gumbo, double dipped, tripped and flanged, just the way I like it.“ ―White Rainbow
Norte Sonoro is a multimedia project that NRMAL does with the support of the Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART) and the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (CONACULTA), and that has the collaboration of the Secretaría de Cultura de San Pedro Garza García.