San Francisco, California, USA – The Rough Guide To Tango Nuevo (RGNET1140CD) is one of the latest installments in the rough guide series. It showcases the diverse fragmentation of styles that tango has been experiencing since the death of Astor Piazzolla, the greatest innovator.
New artists are revolutionizing tango from within, forging an urban folk style for their own times and lives. ‘Nuevo’ (or ‘New’) tango moves through dark-hued dub tango, tango electronica, tango with a sassy salsa twist, and even grungy tango for the rock generation.
Today, contemporary tango, though still firmly rooted in the mordant, melancholy soul of the urban Argentinean, adds newly imported sounds and ideas into the mix, and the results are as stirring as they were a century ago. A member of the Tango Nuevo generation of the 1960s and 1970s, today Dino
Saluzzi remains at the cutting edge of classical tango. Influenced by Andean rhythms and Bela Bartók in equal measure, he has consistently kept faithful to the guiding ethos of constant exploration and innovation. Recognized as a master storyteller, ‘Reprise: Los Hijos De Fierro’ alludes to the spiritual children of fictional gaucho hero Martín Fierro.
Born in 1936, Juan Carlos Cáceres heard scratchy old orchestras as a child and grew up wanting to revamp tango. Years spent outside Argentina left him with a passion for a pan-Latin sound, and his
brilliant, beat-driven tangos tap into Afro-Uruguayan candombé, murga street drumming and the milonga side of the tango tradition.
The moment when emerging legend Adriana Varela met the superstar Roberto Polaco Goyeneche was a crucial moment for New Tango. Varela and Goyeneche couple up here on a pained, passionate recording of one of the most notorious tango songs ever written – ‘Balada Para Un Loco’ – in which Varela introduces her unique, quasi-macho style of singing.
Sandra Luna has been singing live since her pre-teens and years spent in the company of tango giants like Nelly Omar and Hector Varely nurtured her authentic tanguera soul. ‘Lejana Tierra Mia’, taken from her widely acclaimed debut album Tango Varon, is a beautiful string-based adaptation
of a song by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera.
Many Tango Nuevo artists feel the need to inject some of tango’s original grit and sass back into the genre. Daniel Melingo brings back the hoodlum attitudes of the early compadritos to songs about morphine, knife fights, betrayal and bad living on Buenos Aires’ backstreets. His gravel-filled voice
draws in mixed audiences of young tango fans, skins, Goths and passing tramps. Although ‘Sin Luna’ is a sweet ballad, it is deeply tango in spirit.
In their search for a streetwise tango attuned to the rock generation, La Chicana based their repertoire around ironic, witty, irreverent songs from the pre-1920s. ‘La Marylin’ is essentially a sassy tango-ized waltz and La Chicana’s recent albums show their mould-breaking pursuit of Africanized beats, Americana and vernacular folk styles. Patricia Andrade also argues that the only way to do New Tango is to make it urban and edgy. She performs waltzes, milongas and tango numbers, exploiting the rhythms and cacophonies of the modern city.
In Buenos Aires, a division between rock, folk and tango never really existed, and ever since the 1960s artists have been incorporating these influences into tango. Omar Mollo spent thirty years as a leading artist in Argentina’s hectic rock nacional scene, which gives his tangos a rough and
raucous edge. His choice of lyrics celebrates the hard-drinking, brothel-creeping, night-stalking side of the tango lifestyle and turns a cynical gaze on society. Artists like Adrián Iaies have been mixing tango with jazz for over fifty years, and his work has won him a Latin Grammy nomination.
Juanjo Domínguez is arguably Argentina’s most important guitarist. He moves with ease between native Argentinean/Creole folk styles and tango, and effortlessly segues from frantic finger-picking to more subtle considered solos.
Giving intense, uncompromising and utterly enthralling performances, Julio Pane is one of a handful of bandoneón players who can fill a stage with no backing at all. ‘Responso’, written by Aníbal Troilo, is taken from Pane’s acclaimed album A Las Orquestas.
The Rough Guide To Tango Nuevo also features the talented tanguera’s Lidia Borda and Sonia Possetti, the big multi-instrumental sounds of Orquesta El Arranque, and music from Trío Gorosito Cataldi De La Vega, Carlos Libedinsky and Quinteto La Camorra. This album presents an excellent overview of Tango Nuevo, a genre that is utterly Argentine in both its roots and its ethos, and also one of the twentieth century’s truly international forms.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.