Gotan Project

The thing we wanted for the album is to make something with one sound, one mood. And I think that the tango music is quite melancholic. We wanted a very raw sound for the drums, something very organic. We wanted to make a short album with just essential tracks. -- Phillippe Cohen Solal

We are not scared of treating or filtering the musicians. We're 'using' electronic tricks to make the tango more accessible and that's why it works. We don't want to do deep house, with long solos on top of that - it's really boring. The improvisation has to come back to real melodies and bring melodies back into dance music. We love dub, we love soundtrack music, and we wanted to discover something surprising that nobody would expect. -- Gotan Project

We wanted to work together for a long time, and then Eduardo made me discover the really percussive, groovy side of Argentinean music. We wanted to do something we really loved, with no compromise or thinking about selling to others. -- Phillippe Cohen Solal

Think Latin America, think salsa. Think Argentina, think tango.

I was introduced to the Gotan Project by my friend Roman. I had recently been to a Zum concert, and was trying to acquire some Astor Piazzolla, or maybe already had. We were discussing Astor Pizzolla and Zum, I played some Zum for Roman and he said, try Gotan Project.

I listened to the CD he gave me, did not greatly like it, and thought no more of the Gotan Project, until a year later I was flipping through the CDs in my local library. I always look in the recent acquisitions, in case there is something interesting, which sometimes there is, and to my surprise found La Revancha del Tango by the Gotan Project. If nothing else I thought, I will borrow it and take round to Roman.

I got back home. It was a lovely afternoon, so I went out into the garden with my portable CD player and a good pair of headphones (Sennheiser HD580 no less) and settled back to listen to La Revancha del Tango. It was great. I then wondered what Roman had given me a year ago. To my surprise it was the same, at least the first couple of tracks were. Surprise, because I did not recognise it.

If Astor Piazzolla gave us modern tango, then Gotan Project give us modern tango plus some. They take modern tango and stretch it to places it has never been before

The third track 'Chunga's Revenge' is a dance number (dance as in clubbing, not tango). The incessant bass beat is there, but unlike the monotony of the normal dance beat, it is interesting, and interwoven through the bass beat is a tapestry of other sounds. Strong hints of Piazzolla are there to be heard. I was therefore somewhat amazed to find the composer of the track was none other than Frank Zappa!

Most of the tracks are by members of the Gotan Project. The noticeable exceptions are the Frank Zappa track, and 'Vuelvo al Sol' by Astor Piazzolla et al.

The Gotan Project are a group of Argentinian musicians exiled in France. Initiated by Philippe Cohen Solal and Eduardo Makaroff in 1999, with Christoph H Muller joining soon thereafter. The Gotan Project saw the light of day with the release of their first 10 inch in February 2000 on Ya Basta!, Solal's label. The Gotan Project gathers together on record, as well as on stage, top Argentinean musicians exiled in Paris. Their stage performances are a mix of acoustic interwoven with video from Prisca Lobjoy.

Gotan Project Gotan being a play upon 'tango' consists of a core nucleus of three Argentinian musicians: Phillippe Cohen Solal, Eduardo Makaroff and Christoph H Muller. On La Revancha del Tango they are joined by several exceptional Argentinian musicians: vocalist Cristina Vilallonga, pianist Gustavo Beytelmann and bandoneon (the tango accordion) player Nini Flores.

La Revancha del Tango (2001) was released on Ya Basta! and distributed by XL Recordings in the UK (Beggars Group in the USA). It very quickly acquired a cult following in Latin America and in clubs across Europe.

Gotan Project have since released a second album.

If I was to make any comparisons, it would be with Astor Piazzolla and Zum. Astor Piazzolla transformed tango into an avant garde art form, comparable to jazz or contemporary classical. The Gotan Project has shifted tango out of the dance and concert halls into Western Europe's clubs and cafes.

The Gotan Project were winners of the newcomers award in the BBC World Music Awards 2003.

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), a virtuoso on the bandoneon, is credited as the creator of modern tango. By means of a scholarship to Paris he studied in the 1950s under Nadia Boulanger who advised him to experiment with tango. On his return to Argentina he formed Quinteto Nuevo Tango, featuring violin, guitar, bass, piano and bandoneon (square built button accordion). Initially modern tango was not accepted, but gradually it gained acceptability. Piazzolla wrought havoc in the Tango dancing community but Piazzolla is also meant for listening to appreciate the long breath of inspiration. This creative talent translated itself into many songs and compositions that have since become Classics of the Tango repertoire. Astor Piazzolla has flooded the music market with dozens of CDs from both Studio and Live performances. Piazzolla plays his own compositions, often trying different versions of the same musical idea. Like an Abstract Painter he enjoys producing different Art works with the same inspirational thought but with a different variation. It is not uncommon to find different CDs which are merely variations of the same composition, sometimes on the same CD. It is easy to see from where Zum got their inspirations! Compositions by Piazzolla can be found on both Zum CDs. Astor Piazzolla has left an extraordinary repertoire of music - instrumental tangos, tango songs, film music, pieces for guitar or flute, chamber and orchestral music. Recommended recordings: La Camorra: The Solitude of Passionate Provocation, Tango: Zero Hour, Concierto para bandoneon & Tres Tangos for bandoneon and orchestrar and Luna.

Following in the footsteps of Astor Piazzolla are Zum, a five-piece band of exceptional creative and innovative musicians. They take original works and traditional songs and Eastern European Gypsy songs and rework them with their own magic and fusion. In addition to their own compositions, their repertoire includes works by Astor Piazzolla. Their two highly acclaimed recordings, Live on the South Bank, London (CMG 006) and Gypsy Tango Pasion (CMG 007), both contain compositions by Astor Piazzolla. The line up, Adam Summerhayes (violin), Chris Grist (cello), Jonny Gee (bass), David Gordon (piano) and Eddie Hession (accordion), is very similar to Quinteto Nuevo Tango. Zum, a strange blend of Tangerine Dream and the Kronos Quartet, were one of the star attractions at the Guildford International Music Festival 2003. Zum? Possibly from a composition of the same name by Astor Piazzolla (featured on the live CD recorded at the London South Bank).

Tango is a ballroom dance that evolved around 1880 in the lower class district of Buenos Aires from a fusion of Spanish tango and milonga, a fast and sensual Argentine dance form.


Music ~ Astor Piazzolla ~ Zum
(c) Keith Parkins 2004 -- April 2004 rev 0