Presente (Sony Music Masterworks, 2013)
It’s hard not to fall head over heels for Bajofondo’s latest Presente out on the Sony Music Masterworks label. With previous recording like Mar Dulce, Supervielle, Bajofondo Remixed and their Latin Grammy winning Bajofondo Tango Club, Bajofondo goes far and beyond the “nuevo tango” or “electrotango” labels that crop up to describe this Argentine-Uruguayan mix.
Dipping fingers into Argentinian and Uruguayan folk, rock, hip hop, electronica, jazz and classical before diving headlong into the tango and milonga traditions of the Rio de la Plata, Bajofondo submerges the listener into a rich, heady combination that defies typing, but when you’re in over your head into this glorious mix genre doesn’t matter.
Bajofondo is headed up by founder and mastermind Gustavo Santaolalla, who plays guitars, pump organ, ronroco, programming, percussion, as well as providing backing and lead vocals on Presente. With a Golden Globe, two Oscars, two Grammys and twelve Latin Grammys to his credit how could an unsuspecting listern possibly go wrong?
Round out Bajofondo’s sound is guitarist, vocalist and electronic programmer Juan Campodonico; pianist, organist synth player and backing vocalist Luciano Supervielle; violists, drummer, guitarist and backing vocalist Javier Casalla; bandoneon player, guitarist and backing vocalist Martin Ferres; bassist, electronic programmer, autoharpist and backing vocalist Gabriel Casacuberta; drummer, bassist, guitarist, and lead and backing vocalist Adian Sosa ad VJ and backing vocalist Veronica Loza. Add in a whole host of strings, some brass, woodwinds, a harpist and a theremin player and you’ve got the goods for pure adventure.
And, I guess that’s the lure of Presente; it’s pure adventure. Mr. Santolalla explains, “I think the most accurate description would be: Bajofondo makes Bajofondo music. And Presente is a trip that takes you from the most magical to the most epic urban moments.”
The darky, exotic opening “Intro” is a bit of a misdirection, because Presente is hugely expansive and wildly lustful, almost cinematic in feel, in its intent to wring every iota of passion out every single track. Savagely worked electotango tracks like “Codigo de barra,” “Segundo afuera” and “La trufa y el sifon” burn brightly. But Bajofondo doesn’t let the listener off so easily.
There’s also the electronica sassy “Pide piso” to kick the sound up another level, as well as the vocal piece “Oigo Voces” that will stun the listener. Other gems include the sweetly worked “Caminante,” the atmospherically moody “Noviembre,” the rock driven “Cuesta arriba” and the funk fueled “A repachaje.” Bajofondo takes off and listener is helpless to do anything but follow, as with tracks like “Sabelo” and “Circular” where the starting point of the pieces isn’t where you eventually wind up.
Bajofondo’s Presente is an enthralling journey, full of dense landscapes, dark corners and bright, open spaces.