BY CONNOR HACHEY
Argentinian powerhouse Bajofondo just recently gifted the music scene with their fresh, new and aptly named project Presente. Featuring the production styling of living legend Gustavo Santaolalla and Latin superstar Juan “Campo” Campodónico, Bajofondo has cranked out a unique, distinct sound. Presente has secured the band’s position as king of the up and coming Electro-Tango genre of Latin-Alternative Rock; they’ve definitely made it difficult for anyone brave enough to try and usurp their throne.
Inspiration for the record’s overall sound was derived from the “Rio De La Plata,” the river separating Argentina and Uruguay, according to producer Gustavo Santaolalla. Each song harbors a distinctive Latin flare with obvious hip-hop, rock, electronic and jazz influences. I realize on paper it might sound like a recipe for disaster, but trust me when I say it definitely works.
Another thing that I really appreciate is Presente’s cinematic quality; it’s a testament to the effort and skill utilized in its construction; perhaps it’s due to Santaolalla’s influence from composing scores for film. The entire listening experience is enhanced because you can definitely gauge how much thematic value was a priority in its production.
The instrumental tracks are breathtaking and refreshing. “Pide Piso,” the album’s first single, is the definition of Electro-Tango. It’s a perfect union of traditional Latin flavor, electronic beats, and pop sensibility. The accompanying music video is also worth a watch. What’s neat about this song, and this can be said about the rest of the album as well, is that it does not sound over produced or cheap. It’s really easy when engineering music electronically to absolutely slaughter a potentially good song with flashy effects and garnishes; it’s seen all too much in the industry today. “Pide Piso” strikes a balance between embellishment and refinement that just adds to its draw and charisma.
Other noteworthy tracks include the dramatic, mysterious “Nocturno” and the manic, upbeat “Milongon.” These songs are wonderful examples of Bajofondo’s ability to set and retain a mood. Instrumentals are not the only thing offered the Presente as a couple songs with vocals complete the track list. “Cuestra arriba” and “Lluvia” are absolutely infectious and “Oigo voces” is unique in that it’s sung acapella.
Honestly, there is very little I can criticize with Bajofondo’s newest release. Presente is a solid presentation and the band did an amazing job. Although I probably wouldn’t normally hear Bajofondo while scanning through the radio, Presente is quite impressive and I’ll definitely be looking out for their future work, as should you.