With the release of their follow-up to the ground-breaking, and ultimately ubiquitous, La Revancha Del Tango comes the realisation that Messrs Solal, Müller and Makaroff are on a bit of a hiding to nothing. Unless you’ve spent the last three years living on another planet, or (more improbably) managed to avoid the contagion of aspirational programmes that blight the mid-evening TV schedules, you will be fully aware of their ingenious marriage of earthy tango playing and studio-assembled beats. Which means that there is little chance of them replicating that initial freshness.
So, what to do? Record a La Revancha Part Two to keep the ad execs happy, perhaps. Or maybe up the beats per minute and allow the music to surrender completely to club culture. Thankfully, what they have actually done on Lunático is stick to an ethos that accentuates the roots of tango without losing the contemporary appeal of the presentation.
They stay faithful to the original template on much of the album. Amor Porteño is the album’s épocha (with added strings), Arrabal its Una Musica Brutal. There is even a token film score homage in the form of Ry Cooder’s Paris, Texas. But tracks such as the moody instrumental Criminal, and Celos, where Cristina Vilallonga does her best torch singer impression to a tango quartet backing, dispense with the programmed beats altogether. Tango Canción has them, but it's a natural-sounding effect allowing Line Kruse's deep and seductive violin playing to guide us on a journey back to the early days of tango. But Gotan Project remain restlessly inventive - Mi Confesión boasts a bubbling bass-line that underpins a spirited string arrangement and some jaunty bandoneon work from Nini Flores, with Argentinian rappers Koxmoz adding sparky vocal encouragement.
Overall, this is a warmer, more organic recording than its predecessor. Not necessarily better or worse than La Revancha Del Tango, just sufficiently different to be a worthy companion piece, and hopefully a way in to Argentina’s most renowned musical style for many more listeners.