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Music for the Weekend: Tanghetto

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Tanghetto performing at La Viruta Milonga in Palermo. (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

For more than ten years, Tanghetto has been revolutionising the modern Argentine music scene. An electrotango group, Tanghetto fuses the old and the new to create a sound that is truly unique.

Formed at the turn of the century but formalised in 2002, the band was largely the brainchild of Max Masri, an Argentine composer and songwriter.

Tanghetto has been a pioneer in the electrotango genre, which brings together the traditional strains of Argentine tango music with new modern instruments and sounds. In an interview with eltangauta.com, the composer explained, “The initial idea or concept was to bring something new to the tango. Tango originated as a spontaneous fusion of different musical styles”.

Masri was inspired to mix traditional tango with electronic beats by a stay in Germany, where he met often with other emigrants from Argentina and Uruguay. It was during this stay that the artist first heard tango being mixed with modern electronic sounds. Soon, he began to experiment with synthesising these styles himself.

The composer describes his experience in Germany in an interview with electrotango.com, recalling, “I became familiar with the ghetto of Argentine expatriates that got together to practice their rituals; to listen to tango, to play truco, to drink mate. They needed to hold onto these expressions of culture to feel that they had ground to stand on, and thanks to that they did not lose their identity. At the same time I was rubbing elbows with people in the underground electronica scene, which at that time was very strong. At times I could experiment, sometimes as a game with my friends who were DJs, the superposition of the two cultures. This all served me as base material, and also as inspiration for the name of the group.”

Masri cofounded Tanghetto with Diego S. Velázquez, a guitarist and composer with whom he had previously founded the Argentine rock group 020. 020 was founded in 1999, and stayed active through the beginning of the next decade. Like Tanghetto, 020 – which reunited in 2010 under the name Tangocrisis – synthesised traditional tango with modern sounds, but had a stronger rock feel.

At present, Tanghetto is composed of a total of six members; in addition to Masri and Velázquez, the other four band members are Federico Vásquez, Antonio Boyadjian, Chao Xu, and Daniel Corrado.

Instrumentally, the band mixes traditional tango instruments with a collection of their modern counterparts. With regards to traditional instruments, the current ensemble includes the bandoneón, the violoncello, and acoustic piano, guitar and drums. Simultaneously, however, the group incorporates the samplers, synthesisers, and the electric guitar and piano.

Tanghetto’s breakout album was ‘Emigrante (electrotango)’, which was released in 2003. The name of the compilation refers to one of its central themes, the plight of many young Argentines that had emigrated from the country in the 2001 economic crisis.

‘Emigrante (electrotango)’ won the band a Latin Grammy nomination, and in 2009 the album achieved double platinum status.

From that point on, the band’s work has been met with high acclaim. The group won the prestigious Premio Gardel de la Música for their compilation ‘El Miedo de la Libertad’ and been nominated for the prize two other times. They have also received additional Latin Grammy nominations. Two of their other CDs have obtained platinum status while six have received gold status.

In 2004, the group released ‘Hybrid Tango’, which incorporated not only tango and electronica but also elements of jazz, flamenco, and hip-hop. This compilation was nominated for a Latin Grammy and went platinum in Argentina.

The band’s other CDs include ‘Tangophobia’ (2005), ‘Buenos Aires Remixed’ (2005), ‘Electrotango Sessions’ (2007), ‘Más Allá del Sur’ (2009), ‘Vivo’ (2011), ‘Vivo Milonguero’ (2011) and ‘The Best of Tanghetto’ (2012).

When asked to describe how his band differs from others in the blossoming electrotango genre in an interview with electrotango.com, Masri states, “Tanghetto is different for the strong presence of melodies; ours are songs, they have structure as such. What’s more, the band is different for the variety of influences, which many times go beyond the tango and electronica. Finally, all of our works have and will always have a strong content or concept behind the music, even though they are instrumental.”

Genre: Electrotango

Dates: 2002 – present

Most Well-Known Song: Inmigrante

Best to listen to: For a slightly eclectic – but very fun – dance party.

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- who has written 670 posts on The Argentina Independent.


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