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by Gotan Project
The cut 'n' paste aesthetic of the DJ ought to be anathema to tango, eliding its dramatic tempo changes and stomping on the breathless spontaneity of the dance. Maybe French producers Gotan Project realized this, because Lunático more than makes up for the superficial disco of their hit "Santa Maria (del Buen Ayre)" with something that delivers on the concept


The cut 'n' paste aesthetic of the DJ ought to be anathema to tango, eliding its dramatic tempo changes and stomping on the breathless spontaneity of the dance. Maybe French producers Gotan Project realized this, because Lunático more than makes up for the superficial disco of their hit "Santa Maria (del Buen Ayre)" with something that delivers on the concept of a modern tango-pop. Rather than spike drum loops with wheezing bandoneón samples, "Amor Porteño" enlists Arizona cowboy-noirists Calexico to provide drums and guitar, and it works because the producers and musicians share a cinematic vision of tango and a looseness with the form. The more upbeat vocal track "Diferente" is just as good, coming off like a Buenos Aires version of Portishead. This is heady, richly hued stuff, handily conjuring rain-slicked alleyways and decadent, smoke-filled dancehalls. "Celos" isn't tango at all but a humescent bit of swing jazz, a melancholy break from the pulsing backbeat that shows that the trio really are as open-minded as they claim to be. Of course, there's hokum, too, like the pompous poetry of "Notas," indistinguishable from any of a multitude of exotic "lounge" fare, and the rapping on "Mi Confesión," which is even more inane if you speak Spanish. But more often than not, Gotan Project make something concrete out of the breezy electronics and repetitive melodic snatches, touching down on the mixture of European sophistication, African physicality, and Latin sentimentality that gives tango its undying power to entrance.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
After the global smash that was La Revancha del Tango, issued in 2001, expectations for Gotan Project's Philippe Cohen Solal, Christoph H. Muller, and Eduardo Makaroff were high. After all, they created a new kind of electronic fusion in taking the tango, street, and folk music forms from Latin America (played by studio musicians) and melding them with dub, downtempo, other more subtle forms of electronica. On Lunatico (named for tango master Carlos Gardel's racehorse), the band took a step back into the music that inspired them in the first place. They engaged a full tango quartet, with returning vocalist Cristina Villalonga, pianist and musical director Gustavo Beytelmann, and a small host of others (including desert moodscape rockers Calexico on "Amor Porteño"), a rap performed by Xoxmo, and a spoken word performance by Jimi Santos. The album was recorded alternately in Paris and Buenos Aires. Musically, Lunatico is adventurous, it engages the tango directly, both musically and in spirit. It mixes beats to be sure, but it's so much more musical than its predecessor by allowing strings, Nini Flores' bandoneon, and the standup bass of Patrice Caratini to hold sway over the top of most tunes. Check the rap tune here "Mi Confesión," with Santos gliding over a swath of strings and a pulsing bandoneon. The vanguard tango of the title track, performed in 3/4 time, creates a dance rhythm that slips and swirls over sampled voices and the sound of Gardel's horse galloping. A breakbeat drum kit is layered in the choruses, and the voice of the racemaster. Then there's the nocturnal "Notas," with its loops, and over the top of a subtle layer of acoustic guitar, a narrator is speaking of the direct passion of the tango itself. Flores' bandoneon carves out a melody only to be joined by a gentle yet edgy bath of strings. "Amor Porteño," (with Villalonga and Calexico) is a strange and anxious way to open a recording. The electric guitars, piano, and spare, hypnotic drum kit begin to turn darkly as Villalonga sings her tale of passion and torment. "Criminal" is a compelling track; not because it is accessible, but because it isn't. What begins as a traditional milonga is quickly turned inside out over the course of its nearly seven minutes. It's paranoid and aesthetically moving, dramatic and seductive, as well as disorienting. Acoustic instruments begin an uptempo tango only to be driven underneath by an electric bass, samples of nearly imperceptible spoken voices, and an electronic pulse that plays a mid-tempo disco vamp. As bandoneon and strings climb atop one another, the drama in the track becomes almost unbearable, aching for release. When Beytelmann's piano reasserts the melody, both strings and synthetic elements reflect a journey which has moved away from its theme into absence, though the theme remains. "Paris, Texas" (named after the Wim Wenders film, one is to presume), reflects a journey across the desert into the el corazon sangrante of the jungle. Percussion by Facundo Guevara, on deep-tuned hand drums, hypnotize as acoustic guitar meanders through the skeletal melody and maracas and bandoneon decorate the sparse soundscape that seems to get added to with every chorus, yet remains nearly devoid of movement. Piano enters, then disappears, only to return to eventually take the cut out alone. Lunatico is a brave and exotic experiment. It breaks ground even as it re-seals the old-world tango in time and space. What remains, however, is something unspeakable, some whisper of what the past offers the future and how the future tentatively embraces it. It is a poetic, moving, and disorienting recording that comes from the shadowy worlds of history into the cloudy pre-dawn with only memories and ideas wrapped in each others clothes. Messrs. Cohen Solal, Makaroff, and Muller are to be commended for their musical bravery; it would have been so easy to repeat the formula; instead they've ventured into unknown territory.

Product Details

Release Date:
Xl Recordings

Related Subjects


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Gotan Project   Primary Artist
Joey Burns   Electric Bass,Electric Guitar,Vibes,Upright Bass
Néstor Marconi   Bandoneon
Roberto Calomarde   Violin
John Convertino   Drums
Elias Khayat   Violin
Juan Carlos Caceres   Spoken Word
Gustavo Beytelmann   Piano,Conductor
Minino Garay   Percussion
Philippe Cohen Solal   Bass,Keyboards,Sounds,Group Member
Rudi Flores   Acoustic Guitar
Patrice Caratini   Upright Bass
Roberto Tormo   Upright Bass
Jorge Pérez Tedesco   Cello
Nini Flores   Bandoneon
Pablo Agri   Violin,Soloist
Cyril Atef   Drums
Eduardo Makaroff   Acoustic Guitar,Group Member
Christoph H. Muller   Synthesizer,Bass,Keyboards,Synthesizer Voices,Group Member
Cristina Villalonga   Vocals
Lázaro Becker   Violin
Leonardo Ferreyra   Violin
Victor Villena   Bandoneon
Line Kruse   Violin
Facundo Guevara   Percussion
Pablo Borzani   Violin
Daniel Falasca   Double Bass
Eduardo Peroni   Viola
Demir Lulja   Violin
Maria Eugenia Castro   Cello
Benjamín Bru Pesce   Viola
Alexandre Jakovlev   Viola
Apolo Novax   Rap
Pablo Sangiorgio   Violin
Cristina Vilallonga   Vocals
Raúl Di Renzo   Violin

Technical Credits

Ry Cooder   Composer
Gustavo Beytelmann   Arranger,String Arrangements,String Conductor
Emmanuel Payet   Engineer
Chris Schultz   Engineer
Philippe Cohen Solal   Composer,Producer
Sally Gross   Management
Georges Pettilault   Engineer
Eduardo Makaroff   Composer,Producer
Christoph H. Muller   Programming,Producer,Engineer
Emmanuelle Honorin   Engineer
Manu Payet   Engineer
Chili Parker   Contributor
Jorge Da Silva   Engineer

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