Electronic music is a global culture, an international network of producers, beat makers, DJs, and other scoundrels who only come out at night.
Berlin tends to be a perennial point of culture flux, a place where static builds and then erupts into blades of lightning.
oqko is a global collective that has settled in the German capital, comprising astvaldur, smog, DEKJ and Lvis Mejía.
Throwing parties on both sides of the Atlantic, two members of oqko actually have rooted in Mexico. Developing extensive connections with that country's electronic underground, oqko have been able to expose an area of Central America culture that is often over-looked.
Here, the collective present a short, and highly personal, guide to Mexico's electronic music underground.
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Picked by astvaldur...
OLY is a female producer and artist loosely affiliated to the well documented NAAFI crew. I stumbled up on her by stepping, a bit intoxicated, into what seemed to be a normal 'Cantine' where I could have just eaten earlier in the day as so many other days in Mexico. All the tables stacked up in one corner, a four piece sound-system and pumping music rapidly but fluently both morphing between genres, switching from reggaeton, bass and sometimes techno, leaving the audience moving, synchronised to every rhythm and timbral change.
Check out the mixtape she did for Noisey.
Puro Ghetto & Siete Catorce
The party I entered that Thursday night was Puro Ghetto which we got invited to by the producer CDVR. That was my first underground musical experience in Mexico so far. In a country where I had already travelled for almost a month it felt like I'd stepped into a hall where everything felt more real, where the underground music of this unknown, but interesting part of the world became vigorous.
This certain way of portraying dance music that I’ve previously encountered and gotten to like but still felt so intangible in Berlin became more familiar to me at that moment. Closing that night in an almost perfect way was Siete Catorce who you can find on the lineup for Berlin's CTM festival 2017 and whose recent 'EP3' you should check out.
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Picked by DEKJ...
Carlos Prieto Acevedo
For Carlos Prieto Acevedo it makes more sense to consider the overall aspect of his work rather than particular snapshots. His oeuvre ranges from the curatorial to the documentary through philosophy and literature. His most current work is the exhibition Critical Constellations of the Audiomachine in Mexico”for Berlin's CTM Festival, which is a retrospective of music and sound art in Mexico from Julian Carrillo’s Sonido 13 to the works of Mario de Vega, Manuel Rocha Iturbide and many more key actors of the experimental music scene in Mexico, as well as works directly connected with the development of a movement, all seen through a social, political, conceptual and contextual filter.
Carlos Prieto Acevedo is also the writer of Variación de Voltaje a documentation of electronic music in Mexico, as well as the co-founder of the OPE3RA anti-festival, the writer of the Tinnitus section for the arts website Mula Blanca and he also hosts an online sonic-intervention of the sala Siglo XX of the National Museum for Art in Mexico.
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Picked by Lvis Mejía...
Rodrigo Sigal is a composer working with new technologies in the electro-acoustic music field. He has been the director of the Mexican Centre for Music and Sonic Arts where he coordinates numerous initiatives of creation, education, research and cultural management in relation to sound and music, like the annual festival Visiones Sonoras. He is also the editor of Sonic Ideas journal and he as taken part in the Luminico project for more than a decade.
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Javier Alvarez is one of the most respected living modern Mexican composers. According to composer John Adams, "The music of Javier Alvarez reveals influences of popular cultures that go beyond the borders of our own time and place." A graduate of the Royal college of Music and City University London, Álvarez has received numerous prizes, honours and awards. Many of the works in his prolific oeuvre combine music technology with diverse instruments and influences from around the world.
We performed alongside him at the closing night of the Visiones Sonoras Festival in October where he performed his octophonic piece 'Mejor morir en la selva' (Rather die in the jungle), which is sincerely one of the most impressive electro-acoustic pieces I have had the chance to experience. The time loss through sound-fluctuation between recordings of flies, machine guns and the jungle itself, made the dramaturgy and - believe it or not - the linear storytelling of this extraordinary piece, a unique live happening that made in the end even the more academic audience stand up and clap and shout.
oqko will have the honour to release this piece in a very special format this year, so stay tuned.
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As well as being a composer and sound artist Rogelio Sosa is also known for his work as director of the Aural Festival which after a hiatus went on this year to show international acts such as Editions Mego label owner Pita, former Sonic Youth guitarrist Lee Ranaldo, and industrial band Godflesh, the festival lasts for five days and some its program is even free of charge, which allows for a wider public to experience it. His work as an artist, composer and promoter of sound art and experimental music situates him as a referential axis of the actual occurrences in Mexico.
A recent work of his, the contemporary opera Ópera riesgo premiered at the Festival de Arte y Ópera Contemporánea, shows Sosa’s capacity of integrating media within an experimental core. Both his artistic discipline and the work as cultural promoter, situate Rogelio Sosa as one of Mexico’s actual references in the experimental field.
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Juan Pablo Villegas
Juan Pablo Villegas or Juanpi, as most of his friends and colleagues know him, is a versatile young interdisciplinary artist from Mexico City. I got once the chance to see one of his projects live, 'Strobe', a performance not made for those prone to epileptic attacks. A Pure Data patch generating sound and triggering an interruptive strobe light. Aside from this his work explores the discourses between, electromagnetism, photography, film and the creation of his own apparatae.
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Picked by smog...
ENSAMBLE are an all in one label, promoter and event organizer, currently one of the main actors of the Mexican underground. They've released cassettes and albums by little known but distinguished acts like MHV and A-rp. In the last years alone they brought over international names like The Bug, Monolake, Bill Kouligas, MESH, Adam X and Berlin’s About Blank crew to Mexico City.
During our October tour we co-organized two showcases with them, including an in-store performance at Discos Mono, one of the city’s hottest record stores right now. We played alongside artists from the crew like AASSP, Los Niños, MHV and visual artist Achtungrael. Listen to A-rp’s latest cassette release for Ensamble.
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oqko are set to release Icelandic producer astvaldur's 'AT LEAST' on February 21st.