[crossing la frontera in a van, all photos from my Instagram]

We drove into Mexico at the San Diego/Tijuana border last night. We’re in TJ for Norte Sonoro, a weeklong musical event that I’ve curated this year.

The idea behind Norte Sonoro: bring a half-dozen international producers to Mexico to work with several regional musicians, culminating in a free fiesta and keeping the energy afloat by releasing a free EP of the collaborative works a few months later. Getting an on-the-ground sense of contemporary Tijuana, and of the contexts that gave rise to the sounds we’re working with is key (and includes a strict dietary regimen of only delicious food).

[weathered musicians, Playas]

Who’s here? Poirier, Sun Araw, Venus X, Cardopusher, Psilosamples… Norte Sonoro’s bilingual website has full information; the project is run by Monterrey’s NRMAL, and Los Macuanos are producing it. Friday’s party has a Facebook page — it’s free (come on down, L.A.!) but RSVP is mandatory.

This is the 2nd edition of Norte Sonoro — I participated in the first version, which was held in Monterrey last year. You can read my writeup + download the 2011 EP.

I’ve written a fair amount on Mexico, this complicated land I love. A good place to begin is this recent essay for Frieze on the music of Javier Estrada as it relates to Aztec-inspired ideas of cyclical time or this account of tribal guarachero (3Ball MTY) from 2010 for The Fader.

Last but not least, I can’t stop listening to Ofrenda Al Mictlán, an incredible (& free) 2010 album from Mexicali’s Juan Cirerol. Guitar, lyrics, voice.

Whole thing is stellar, pulsing with a dark & hopped up lifeforce. Here’s a song:

[audio: Juan Cirerol – Mi Rostro.mp3]

Juan Cirerol – Mi Rostro

“it’s so easy to believe yourself blind in order not to look… the storm’s a perfect time to take a stroll”