Pick Of the Week
Argentine-Uruguayan Alt-Electrorock-Tango Band BAJOFONDO Release Presente
Featuring Academy Award-Winning Composer/Musician
Sony Masterworks announces the release of Presente, the new album by Latin Grammy-winning band Bajofondo. The album's title refers to what the band is at the present moment: a stirring mix of tango, milonga, folklore, rock, hip-hop, electronica, jazz, classical, and a world of sounds from the Río de la Plata, the river that separates and unites Argentina and Uruguay. One of the most acclaimed live acts in the world, Bajofondo's Presente is also the biggest "present" (both in size and scope) the band has delivered to diehard fans and new converts: an epic 21-track high energy tour de force that blends a multitude of traditionally dichotomous genres seamlessly.
"After playing in virtually all corners of the world, having Sony Masterworks as our new home could not be more appropriate to present the album that most closely resembles what we are as a live band," said Gustavo Santaolalla, Bajofondo's decorated founder and producer (winner of a Golden Globe, 2 Oscars, 2 Grammys, and 12 Latin Grammys). "The music that comes out of the Río de la Plata has a distinctive accent but is universal. We could not have been in better hands."
When Bajofondo began they came out swinging - the debut Bajofondo Tango Club album won a Latin Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental album in 2003. Then the group became a full-fledged band with the addition of Adrián Sosa (the drummer that gives BAJOFONDO's rhythm its human traction) in the follow-up Mar Dulce (2007), which featured guests like Elvis Costello, Julieta Venegas, and Nelly Furtado, among others.
Presenteis Bajofondo as you've never heard it before! Unlike previous efforts that dropped energetic dance floor bombs from the get-go, the new album opens on a low-key, string-based note: it's themysterious beginning of a brand new Bajofondo trip that takes the listener to the high-octane energy of its live shows and its ingenious experimentation in the studio. The production team of Santaolalla and guitarist Juan Campodónico have once again captured the common links and individual features of the music found on both sides of the river, but this time on a decidedly international approach that turned Presente into BAJOFONDO's most ambitious album to date.
The lead single "Pide piso" is named after a rioplatense slang term literally referring to someone unpleasant who "asks for the floor" (to be knocked to the ground, that is), but it could also refer to somebody anxious to bring sparks to the dance floor. All the Bajofondo ingredients are in this song: the beat, the organic mix of modern electronica and old tango bandoneón and violins, the milonga piano, and the double entendre that flows throughout the album (another example of this is found in the powerful "Código de barra" that follows the contrasting, mellow intro and comes at you like a full-frontal sonic assault; the title simultaneously refers to a simple bar code and to figures of speech only understood by tango barflies or groups of friends).
"Olvidate" ("Forget it") illustrates Bajofondo's unique ability to blend sophistication with more mundane, popular cultural manifestations. It starts with a pulsating beat where disco meets bandoneón and then, when least expected, Bajofondo turns into a chorus taken straight out of an Argentine football stadium. The tongue-in-cheek bragging has Bajofondo boldly declaring that "even the dead" dance with them, with a bragadoccio that owes as much to hip-hop as it does to tango itself.
More than in any other album, Bajofondo's own roster take a starring role in the vocal department. Santaolalla delivers a passionate version of "Pena en mi corazón" ("Sorrow in my heart); Campodónico (fresh off a Latin Grammy win in 2012 as producer of Uruguayan rock band El Cuarteto de Nos) leads on "Lluvia," and Sosa debuts as a singer over a wicked bandoneón line in "Cuesta arriba."
"Oigo Voces" Bajofondo's first-ever a capella song, deserves its own paragraph. This gem is inspired by Argentina's legendary neo-tango vocal group Buenos Aires 8, which in turn was inspired by France's four-time Grammy-winning The Swingle Singers. But Santaolalla - who sang all the vocal parts himself and always had the Beatles and Brian Wilson as a source of great inspiration - took the style to a whole new level and the song became a Fab Four-meets-Beach Boys hybrid by way of Astor Piazzolla, the man who revolutionized tango.
After hundreds of dates throughout the world, Bajofondo has become a live music machine. It is a band made up of well-established artists in their own right. Besides the above-mentioned, Bajofondo is Martín Ferrés (the most visible exponent of the younger generations of Argentines taking up a complex instrument such as the bandoneón), Verónica Loza (the woman responsible for the film/video projections that are a key component of BAJOFONDO's live performances), and Gabriel Casacuberta (a versatile bassist who has played anything from Hip-Hop to traditional Uruguayan folk. Javier Casalla's contribution to the magic of BAJOFONDO has always been remarkable, and in Presente his extraordinary violin has a monster string section playing along with him, arranged and directed by Argentina's renowned Alejandro Terán.
With 11 violins, 4 violas, 3 cellos, and 3 stand-up basses, Presente is the most string-based album in Bajofondo's history. "This time we really worked on the orchestral parts," said 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. We're thrilled with the results." Several album tracks also include brass, woodwinds, and percussion.
At this point in Bajofondo's career, the band has long transcended "electrotango" to become one of the world's most eclectic acts on record and one of the most irresistible on the dance floor, all wrapped with the energy and attitude of rock 'n' roll.
"I think the most accurate description would be: Bajofondo makes Bajofondo music," says Santaolalla. "And Presente is a trip that takes you from the most magical to the most epic urban moments."
2 Codigo de barra
3 Segundos afuera
4 Pide piso
6 Pena en mi corazon
8 La trufa y el sifon
11 Oigo Voces
12 Cuesta arriba
17 A repechaje
19 Asi es (Propergol)