Album Review written by: Shosh

(Sony Masterworks)
Release date: March 5, 2013

It’s not surprising that Bajofondo is composed of a whopping eight members. Hailing from Argentina and Uruguay, this Latin-alternative rock band is full of rich and interesting layers that create a sound all their own with their fourth LP “Presente.” An innovative venture, Bajonfondo fuses several genres of music together to create “electro-tango,” with obvious influences from tango and electronica (duh) along with jazz and hip-hop making their mark. While this may sound like a strange mix for a niche market, this blend of genres actually makes the group far more accessible as it brings old-school tango fans into modern music and tango to younger listeners who may ordinarily dismiss it.

After the slow moving intro, “Codigo de barra” reigns in listeners with its high energy. This number is deeply complex with a myriad of violins and synths. This song feels like a classical tune with a modern twist. It takes many different turns as it rises to a roaring crescendo, and then falls back to lighter piano lines and flirtatious violins, ending with all the instruments coming together with a big ending bang. This ability to employ different melodic lines and song structures is one of the most interesting things about this album. There’s no typical “verse-chorus-verse” format in place to hold back this group. They utilize emphasized rests and allow themselves the freedom to explore multiple melodies and instrumentation within a single song.

Single “Pide Piso” opens with a pulsing drum, DJ scratch beats and continues to build with sighing vocal sounds, flashing violins and an enchantingly simple piano line. This song is the perfect example of the marriage of multiple genres of music. There are so many different elements going on, yet this track feels well composed and interesting instead of busy and overdone. “Nocturno” takes a darker turn and begins with a light piano line that slowly builds as additional instruments make their voices heard, with the violin adding a melancholic element to this tune. “Pena en mi Corazon” introduces vocals to this album. While the lyrics may be in Spanish, the refrain is so infectious, you’ll find yourself singing along even if you can’t quite make out the words.

530849_10151337557404507_2097386652_nThe few other tracks with vocals also stand out as this is mainly an instrumental album. “Asi es” has pretty whispering male vocals and deeply layered harmonies. “Olvidate” thumps along with a melody that feels familiar until a very calculated pause leads to a tribal turn with bongo style drums and chanting gang vocals. A capella number “Oigo voces” proves this group has vocal chops, as they turn their voices into well-seasoned instruments.

While the majority of the tracks are extremely strong on this record, listeners may begin to lose interest in the lengthy middle section. A 21 track album, it’s easy to grow tired of this sound after the novelty of it wears off, but close listening will prove that each track is unique and done superbly. Admittedly, this album isn’t for everyone. However, even if you’re not a fan of this genre, the skill and thoughtfulness of this album is undeniable. It’s worth a listen to broaden your musical horizons even if it doesn’t leave a permanent mark on your spring playlist.