France’s Gotan Project has seen their recordings sell over two million copies worldwide to date , and has had their songs used in television commercials, radio ads, feature and documentary films -- and more than a few corporate business presentations. Founding members Philippe Cohen Solal, Christoph H. Müller, and Eduardo Makaroff have an uncanny track record for melding Argentinian tango to virtually any music they choose. The difference between their 2001 debut La Revancha del Tango and 2006’s Lunático was pronounced. The former utilized ambient dub and downtempo wed to tango music from the '30s through the '70s, with the accent heavily on electronics. The latter took a rootsier approach. Pianist and musical director Gustavo Beytelmann utilized a string quartet, jazz, vocalist Cristina Villalonga, Calexico, and even rapper Xoxmo, against sonic atmospheres and beats. Inextricable from the mix was Nini Flores' bandoneon and a woodsy upright bass. On 2010’s Tango 3.0, the root music featured here comes more from the Nuevo Tango aspect of the music's development, and is wed to even more diverse sources. Villalonga, Flores, and the upright bass are back, with a larger string section; clarinet, harmonica, horns, and guests. The first single, “La Gloria,” is a shimmering midtempo tango that features upright and synth basslines, bandoneon, and legendary football announcer Victor Hugo Morales, who narrates his storied homage to Marradonna's second “goooaaallll!” against England. Dr. John plays B-3 on opener “Tango Square,” a slow, moody, jazzy piece with a beautiful horn section; this slow tango could have come from after-hours clubs in either Buenos Aires or New Orleans. It’s steamy, dark, and forbiddingly sensual. On “Rayuela,” author Julio Cortázar reads from his novel of the same name, backed by slippery rhythms, jazzy piano, organic and sampled percussion, horns, bandoneon, and a children’s choir. “De Hombre a Hombre” fuses spaghetti western, surf guitar themes, and film noir soundtrack music to modern tango, while “Peligo” samples '30s tango and melds it seamlessly to nuevo tango with understated but emotionally expressive vocals by Villalonga. The hypnotic "Panamericana” features acoustic guitars, bandoneon, a jazzed-up middle eight on piano, handclaps, and a spare use of synths. Tango 3.0 steps further into Gotan Project's chosen music of origin, and simultaneously creates something wholly of the 21st century, all the while keeping its central dance motifs and narrative concerns largely intact.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek