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Gotan Project: An International Spin On Argentina's Tango

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Gotan Project: An International Spin On Argentina's Tango

Gotan Project: An International Spin On Argentina's Tango

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

The band Gotan Project from Argentina blends traditional folk music with pop and electronic dance. The heart of their sound is the country's most beloved musical export: tango.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: Reviewer Banning Eyre says Gotan Project's new CD, "Tango 3.0," reinvents Argentina's national music as a truly international sound.

(Soundbite of song, "Tango Square")

BANNING EYRE: The opening of "Tango 3.0" would make a fine film-noir soundtrack. Its bluesy swing and Hammond organ vamp by Dr. John bring in the flavor of New Orleans, and the song's title, "Tango Square," underscores the connection with a nod to that city's historic Congo Square. But from the first notes of the distinctive button accordion the bandoneon there's no mistaking the presence of tango.

(Soundbite of song, "Tango Square")

EYRE: The bandoneon, with its unique timbre and expressiveness, was created in Germany, but it soon became inseparable from the sexy new dance music emerging from the bars and bordellos of Buenos Aires.

(Soundbite of song, "La Gloria")

EYRE: Despite its heavy club beat, this song, "La Gloria," hews pretty close to a classic tango. The glory referenced here is that of Argentine soccer icon Maradona, and the track incorporates a near-ecstatic play-by-play of his legendary winning goal against England in 1986.

(Soundbite of song, "La Gloria")

Unidentified Announcer: (Speaking foreign language).

EYRE: The word goal becomes Gotan, which is itself a twist on tango. All this wordplay is of a piece with Gotan Project's approach to music. Artful dislocations and convergences are their stock in trade, as tango merges with reggae.

(Soundbite of song, "Desilusion")

EYRE: Or Colombian cumbia.

(Soundbite of song, "Peligro")

Ms. CRISTINA VILALLONGA (Singer): (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: Gotan Project lives in Paris, which has always been more or less tango's second home. Tango legends, including the late Astor Piazzolla, fled to Paris to escape both political and artistic oppression back home because musicians who tamper with tango's formulas have always riled the genre's purists.

But the very idea of tango orthodoxy is arguably absurd. At its core, this music is a collision of European, South American and African cultures. Gotan Project honors that tradition with reverence, humor and cinematic musicality.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is senior editor at afropop.org. He reviewed "Tango 3.0" by Gotan Project.

(Soundbite of music)

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