Panoptica is the first of two South American signings uncovered by Paul Arnold in 2001, offering something a little different to the Electronic Projects spinoff of his Certificate 18 label. Like fellow Tijuana resident Andres Sanchez, whose album as Ruisort spun upfront keys into feverish Latin horns, or Fernando Corona, who records gothic sonic architectures for Leaf as Murcof, Roberto Mendoza's Panoptica purports to be the sound of the Nortec Collective, a sonic hybrid that twists highbrow techno with traditional norteño, or northern Mexican music. Taking his moniker from Jeremy Bentham's all-seeing, self-regulating plan for a prison is typically compunctious, with Mendoza in fact looking externally for his inspiration, constructing his debut album from samples lifted from the tapes made and sold by musicians on the streets of his hometown. Although primarily comprised of shivering electronics and bubbling avant house with one eye on Reich-like loop repartee, it is within Mendoza's off-message meanderings that the science is to be found. The almost drum'n'bass of "El Chivero de Tepatoche" is the pick of the eight tracks on offer, scratching barely discernable percussive patterns out in the dust left by the motion of vintage keyboards with less pretense than 4 Hero and more ambition than Photek.
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AllMusic Review by Kingsley Marshall