Born in Tijuana, Fernando Corona lived most of his life in Ensenada, a small port town eighty miles south of TJ. His early years were spent playing all kinds of music, from acoustic rock to more experimental stuff. At some point he found himself a member of Tijuana's much-hyped Nortec Collective, that raucous band of musicians and artists who introduced the world to a fusion of break beats, techno, and the sound of ol' Mexico -- namely the ranchero and norteño styles.
So when Corona began recording under the alias Murcof, his affiliations alone were enough to make any self-respecting connoisseur of the fringe run out and pick up his latest, Martes. But know this: It sounds nothing like Nortec. It is an entirely different animal, a meticulously crafted collage of minimal electronica and languid orchestration. And it's going to bite your freakin' head off.
"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four," said John Cage. "If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then 32. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all." It's handy advice when listening to this record. Where most electronica feels like entertainment for druggies, Martes is different. Martes is trying to tell you something and you need to be patient with it. The messages are coded in Corona's visionary musical vocabulary, consisting of eerie orchestral arrangements -- mainly strings and piano -- cut up with Corona's breathtaking micro-beats and hair-raising electronic glitches. Both function to corral the orchestration along a jagged, almost disturbing path. Influenced by contemporary classical composers like Henryk Górecki and Arvo Pärt, Corona employs the similar strategy of using music to exaggerate silence, hence sudden blips of nothingness that run through the songs like the holes in Swiss cheese.
Though the label of "minimalism" (with its "boring" and "pretentious" connotation) can easily be applied here, this record is none of these things. Corona has taken the cold, detached tropes of minimal techno and created something deeply personal. It's not dance music, but neither is it masturbatory, intellectual, or any of that other stuff. It's simply a new and interesting way to make electronic music, which, at its core, was what the Nortec movement has always been about.
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