Several years ago, Argentine musician and composer Gustavo Santaolalla, together with Uruguayan musician-producer Juan Campodónico, conceived of a group that would be a collective of Argentine and Uruguayan artists dedicated to creating “contemporary music of the Rio de la Plata,” the body of water that separates the two countries. The project, which debuted under the name Bajofondo Tango Club, was an alliance of producers, musicians, and singers that took shape in the recording studio, resulting in an inimitable tango-fusion blend. The group’s first album, the self-titled Bajofondo Tango Club (2002), won a Latin Grammy for Best Instrumental Pop Album in 2003 and sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide.
Since this inception, Bajofondo has toured nonstop, performing at major world and electronica festivals, and making appearances in 15 European countries, as well as in the US and across South America. What began as studio-based project combining programming and samples with acoustic and electric instruments gradually evolved into a band that plays live with a minimal amount of electronica. Today Bajofondo is an eight-member group, with seven musicians and a VJ who triggers images in real time along with the music. As a result of the band’s musical expansion, Bajofondo has liberally added elements of Latin American roots music, moving its sound beyond “tango-tronica” and leading the group to drop “Tango Club” from its name before releasing its latest effort, Mar Dulce, in 2008.
At its core, Bajofondo is a collective of artists. Although the group was co-founded by Santaolalla, the Academy Award-winning composer of the scores for the films Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Babel (2006), the group is also comprised of several younger members, several of whom have released solo recordings under the auspices of the collective. Despite the group’s diversity, there’s something that unifies these artists of such a variety of origins, nationalities, and generations, and it’s a feeling that is very difficult to translate into words. It’s something intangible, a certain melancholy that has something to do with existential issues and also with the old traditional barrios of Buenos Aires and Montevideo – what Santaolalla likes to call “cosmic tango.” Whatever it is, it makes for damn good music.
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