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Tangos Bajos, Daniel Melingo

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 12:37 am
by Gordon Neill

I thought I was safe enough. I’m pretty well immune to the charms of Tango. OK, I got a dose of Gotan Project last year, and I still get the odd relapse every now and then. But Gotan was more of a vaccination than a full-blooded infection. And modern Tango can be a bit thumpy for my tastes. So I’m OK. No worries about Tango.

Unfortunately it turns out that a friend of mine is a carrier. I don’t think she meant any harm by including a couple of Melingo tracks on a compilation she singed for me. I trusted the source and didn’t think about viruses as I loaded it onto my ipod. And I wasn’t too sure about the tracks I’d heard from his new album (Maldito Tango), where his voice sounds a bit too mannered and Tom Waits-ish. So no worries. I’m immune. Before I knew it, though, I’d signed up for a course of 15 short musical jabs from his first solo album, Tangos Bajos.

The first song to hit me was Narigon. There are two versions. The first only lasts 1 minute and 29 seconds but it punches well above its weight. The longer ‘dub’ version is even more dangerous. I could feel my pulse quickening but, on first exposure, the rest of the tracks seemed harmless enough. So no worries, I thought, I’ll be fine.

Then I noticed that the track in-between, Muleta De Borracho, was quite infectious, and my ears kept going back to it. Just as I was getting used to picking away at these three catchy tracks, I suddenly noticed that I was itching to play Jose "El Cuchillero". Too late, I suddenly realised that here’s a whole rash of catchy songs breaking out all over this album. Before I know it, I’ve been Tangoed quite badly.

The album does have some weaknesses in it’s attack, so there’s no need for the general public to worry themselves sick about a Tango pandemic. If you’re determined not to like it, try focusing on the opening track, with its chorus worryingly identical to ‘My Way’. Or, if you’re like me, you could get irritated by the spot of whistling which slightly mars the otherwise perfect 1 minute 44 seconds of Jose "El Cuchillero". But these are minor flaws in an otherwise formidable foe. All too late, I realise that it hits me at all my points of least resistance. Restrained production, with a less-is-more attitude, giving plenty space for acoustic guitar, punchy accordion, and a surprisingly deep electric bass. Short tracks (the whole album last little more than 35 minutes) that trick you into playing them again and again. And a subtle sense of humour, partly in Melingo‘s mildly theatrical gruff singing, partly in the heavy breathing noises between some tracks. There should be a government health warning on this heart stopping stuff.

After a couple of weeks, I’m still Melingo malingering. I’ve not managed to shake my addiction, but I’m learning to live with it. My name is Gordon and I’m a Tangoholic.