Mozza, sing a tango!

For all things concerning Moz's solo career.

Postby Truman Capote » Mon Apr 16, 2007 3:25 pm

It takes eight to tango

Pascal Wyse on the men who are daring to bring a 'cosmic vibe' to a traditional music

Thursday April 12, 2007
The Guardian

It takes a special kind of insight to see that Morrissey, the famously morose former frontman of the Smiths, is at heart a tango musician. But Argentine composer and producer Gustavo Santaolalla, who is bringing his group Bajofondo Tango Club to Britain this week, asked Morrissey to sing on a track for the eight-piece band's forthcoming album. Morrissey, he says, has got that "cosmic tango vibe".
"He's doing a song I wrote a long time ago," says Santaolalla. "There is a cosmic tango spirit some artists have, even if they don't come from Buenos Aires. Tom Waits is a tango guy. Marianne Faithfull is kind of a tango girl. There's an immediacy and melancholy implicit in what they do. In certain cases, such as Nick Cave and Morrissey, there is a deep sadness related to the spirit of tango. Nelly Furtado, who is also on the record, could really be a kind of suburban girl in Buenos Aires."

You mess with tango at your peril. When Argentine bandoneón player Astor Piazzolla created "nuevo tango" by fusing it with jazz and contemporary classical, he suddenly found his boxing skills handy. "Piazzolla," thundered La Mancha newspaper, "has dared to defy a traditional establishment greater than the state, greater than the gaucho, greater than soccer. He has dared to challenge the tango." Fist fights and even death threats ensued.
Yet tango has actually been preyed upon by the influx of new music in Argentina since the 1940s. The Bajofondo Tango Club - like the French-Argentine group Gotan Project, whose 2001 album La Revancha del Tango was a worldwide hit - is following this tradition, this time linking tango to modern dance and electronic music. Santaolalla, for his part, has not been troubled with punch-ups from the old guard - but he has been careful: "I've worked with some of the most famous traditional tango players. Some of the old guys can be offended if you go to them with new works and say, this is tango now. But I have never had a bad comment.

"With Bajofondo, we don't like the label 'electronic tango' because we try to make a contemporary music of Rio de la Plata [the river that forms part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay], music from Argentina, Uruguay. Obviously, if you want to do music that comes from there, or represents that part of the world, tango is going to be a part of it - but in our case, so is rock'n'roll, electronica and hip-hop. Hopefully, a new language, not pure tango."

Santaolalla wouldn't be easy to pick a musical fight with. He has won Grammys for his production work, forging connections between rock and folk music in Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico; artists on his label Surco won eight Latin Grammy awards in 2003; and, since turning to writing film scores a few years ago, he has won a Bafta for The Motorcycle Diaries, plus two Oscars, for Brokeback Mountain and Babel.

Bajofondo Tango Club started in 2003 as an experiment. Santaolalla met with Uruguayan guitarist and composer Juan Campodonico, wanting to combine their musical heritage. "It was almost like a laboratory - bringing musicians in one at a time. It was probably 70% programmed [on computers and drum machines] and 30% played. Now it is 80% played, and the record we are finishing is all recorded as if live. I'm excited to be playing live again, on guitar. This band really made me feel what I was missing."

The alchemy of some tango mixtures is strange. The bitter pride of men singing (to quote a famous tango song), "Woman, you dumped me in the prime of my life"; all that stabbing and huffing with the violins and bandoneón - it seems anathema to the crisis-free beats of lounging electronica. Perhaps it is this paradoxical state that makes the new tango sound so popular - caustic, vital passions viewed from a safe distance, or as a distant memory. And the scratching on turntables bears a resemblance to the trademark "cicada" violin sound in Piazzolla's music.

"There are timbres that are important, such as the bandoneón, double bass, violins, piano - but also the element of melancholy," says Santaolalla. "In our case, it is kind of an active melancholy. There's also power, rawness - a savage element to tango we try to keep alive. That connects to some of the primal energy rock has." As Horacio Malvicino, Piazzolla's guitarist, once said: "Just as jazz musicians must swing, tango has to have mugre, dirtiness. [A good tango] musician has to be dirty in their soul".

· Bajofondo Tango Club play the Barbican, London, on Saturday, as part of the La Linea Latin music festival. Box office: 020-7638 8891.


So... what do you think?
I think it would be quite interesting.
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Truman Capote
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Postby Pashernate_Lover » Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:34 pm

That sounds so awesome! I am totally excited to hear it! I had to study the origins of tango when I was a wee freshman, so I am double excited!!

... who knew, death threats over tango?
A note upon his desk
"P.S. Bring Me Home And Have Me!"
Leather elbows on a tweed coat
Is THAT the best you can do ?
So came his reply :
"But on the desk is where I want you!"
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