REVIEW: Gotan Project, Roundhouse Chalk Farm

PUBLISHED: 10:04 12 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:47 07 September 2010

Five star rating In Argentina, to tinker with traditional tango is tantamount to treason, but as the Roundhouse witnessed, the Paris-based collective Gotan Project have found international success by doing just that. T

Gotan Project

Roundhouse

Chalk Farm

Five star rating

In Argentina, to tinker with traditional tango is tantamount to treason, but as the Roundhouse witnessed, the Paris-based collective Gotan Project have found international success by doing just that.

The electro-tango sound created by Parisian DJ/producer Philippe Solal, Swiss-born producer Christoph Müller and traditional Argentine guitarist Eduardo Makaroff has spawned two critically acclaimed albums - La Revancha Del Tango (Tango's Revenge) and Lunatico - but it is in performing that Gotan Project truly dazzle.

Those present witnessed an incredible spectacle as immaculate musical artistry - both acoustic and electronic - was effortlessly blended with innovative film projections and sultry sexy tango dancers (not of the John Sergeant variety).

On stage, three violins, a cellist, legendary Argentine pianist Gustavo Beytelman (who arranged much of the second album), Argentine bandoneonist Nini Flores (playing a native accordion) and Barcelona-based vocalist Cristina Vilallonga accompanied the original trio, all in signature white attire.

For every tango lament played by the ensemble, a film accompanied. During Mi Confesion, Argentine MCs Koxmoz rapped along from their larger-than-life projection.

Actor Adrien Brody (The Pianist) even appeared in one short as a pair tangoed on stage. Wild horses traversed the Pampas in another as Makaroff delicately plucked La Viguela, guitar on shoulder, pointing to the heavens.

From slow beginnings, the set gathered energy, its electrification constantly growing.

With the first notes of Santa Maria (Del Buen Ayre), whistles filled the air and feet began to move, its piercing staccato heartbeat delivered by Beytelman and the string section as if with a knife.

However, it was the encore of Criminal and then Triptico that produced climax, allowing Solal and Muller to indulge their wilder electronic selves.

An experience rather than a concert, it left a lasting impression; the contrast of tradition and modernity was ever-present, but ever in balance.

Pascoe Sabido


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