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La Segunda

La Segunda

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Date Added: Thursday 26 June, 2003

by web master

The original nouveau tango sensation Será una Noche prompted an enthusiastic write-up by yours truly for Gene Pitts of The Audiophile Voice. Today's follow-up, cunningly called La Segunda as though no more needed to be said, is arguably even more fabulistic. In other words, a true rarity in this age of disappointing sequels that lazily ride on the success of their originals to laugh all the way to the corporate coffers. However, nothing's corporate or funny about this ensemble of percussion, various clarinets, flutes and guitars, cello, harmonica, bandoneon and multiple incendiary vocals.

Quite unlike I Am a Tango/Yo Soy un Tango [Alula 1027, 2001] that celebrates what it calls pure authenticity by returning full circle to dying trio format traditions, Será una Noche is in full modernist resurrection mode. Its members believe that to make the art form, nay life style that was tango accessible and relevant to today's audiences -- those not married by default to the olden Argentinean ways -- requires a complete while respectful makeover. Where Piazzolla devotee Al DiMeola explodes the format symphonically, Será una Noche engages reverse gear to veer into minimalist deconstructionist terrain instead. Transcending tango's edgy formality and nearly melodramatic frisson that enjoys parallels to Flamenco's cante jondo, La Segunda is more impressionist, sketchy, atmospheric. Terse instrumentation is often primarily reliant on percussion ambiance, with guitar, clarinet and bandoneon assembling circular melodic fragments in introspective free Jazz improv mood. Vocals smolder but coolly, mostly devoid of coquettish charge and subliminal rage.

Think of it as a masterful collage that takes recognizable archetypal Tango imagery only to reorganize it into new and unexpected context. It juxtaposes recorder riffs with tabla solos, cello con arco with whistling, growling bass clarinet with cello con pizzicato, jazzy guitar with Latino vocals and smart Toots Thielemans harmonica exploits. Far too intelligent to degrade into "Tango lite" tourist bar mockery, it's more akin to masterful abstract art, as in the hands of a painter fully versed in realism. He subsequently engages in stripping all excess, fluff, obviousness to point at the underlying spirit of the thing instead. It becomes unencumbered by the mass of photographic externals, still recognizable but now endowed with a deeper emotional message.

That's in fact the true magic here. There's emotion aplenty but it's been stripped of melodrama. Painful tightness of constrictive forms gives way to more spacious, diaphanous freedom. Heart and mind combine for a mostly instrumental delivery. Add supernatural mastering quality; the Monasterio Gandara as recording location; one point miking with Bruel and Kjaer modules straight to Fostex DVD-RAM recorder, monitored with balanced driver Stax Lambda Signature Pro earspeakers; and the end result is an audiophile demo delight of the first rank. It reintroduces us to Tango as ultra-modern, sophisticated ambiance music, no longer South-American per se but fluid in aural Esperanto - tangoeque Worldmusic. Care to dance?

Review by

m.a. recordings, 2003

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

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