Presente - Bajofondo Tango Club
As with flamenco before it, tango has been embraced by DJ/producers as a malleable medium in which to work their urban/electronic magic. The Parisian trio, Gotan Project is notable, but no release captured the sensuality of the ‘dance of danger’ like 2003’s debut of Bajofondo Tango Club which won genius producer, Gustavo Santaolalla a Latin Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental album. The club became a true band with the addition of drummer Adrian Sosa for the follow-up Mar Dulce in 2007 which, while maybe more human in its realization, surprisingly lacked credibility with the addition of a star-studded cast of guest vocalists. Not that this slowed down Santaolalla the least, who had to find additional shelving for a Golden Globe, 2 Oscars, 2 Grammys and 12 Latin Grammys. Now, Bajofondo is back with Presente, a breath-taking 21 track opus with nary a dud amongst them. It’s impossible to overstate, in today’s music market where one is lucky to find 3 or 4 good tracks per release, what an overwhelming listen that makes Presente. Cast off any allusions you may have about dressing tango with a hip hop backbeat. Presente is something entirely different. With 11 violins, 4 violas, 3 cellos and 3 stand-up basses, the album is foremost an orchestral work. “This time we really worked on the orchestral parts” explains Santaolalla. “We had done something similar in Mar Dulce but Presente is a much bigger project and the album required extra time spent in that area.” Eschewing the ‘electrotango’ label, Bajofondo has evolved into a ‘tango experience’. There’s a lot that just plain rocks. Santaolalla himself delivers the album’s killer blow, singing an anthemic version of Pena en mi Corazon (Sorrow In My Heart). Pide Piso, the first single from the album, is another awesome blending of Rio del La Plata sensibilities applied to urban groove. The last half of the album grabs you again with significant instrumentals and vocal selections like Circular at 16, A repechaje at 17, Asi es and Olvidate at 19 and 20 respectively. The master, Santaolalla sums up, “Presente is a trip that takes you from the most magical to the most epic moments.” That’s not an oversell.