Coming soon to a Starbucks or French Connection soundtrack near you: electronic tango. That's right -- Argentina's new musical express isn't revving up with rock `n' roll guitars; it's exalting traditional tango tweaked with warm electronica. Evidence of the trend is everywhere, from the Gotan Project to Bajofondo Tango Club to even a redux treatment of the genre's granddaddy ("Astor Piazzolla Remixed"). A glut of these albums has saturated the market over the past year, enough so that it's difficult to muster interest in another electronica effort. Thankfully, multi-instrumentalist Federico Aubele breaks the mold with his solo debut, a supple homage to his urban Argentine roots spliced with samples, reggae and dub, Latin guitar, and crisp, female vocals. It's no wonder the album was released on Thievery Corporation's ESL Music label; like those electronica provocateurs, Aubele creates an ambient sonic palette that transcends the music's humble origins. Whereas recent tango albums have glorified the bandoneon (tango's accordion-like linchpin), Aubele focuses on the guitar, layering gliding vocals over shimmering guitar chords. His vocals on "Salvacion" are otherworldly, dripping off the faint accompaniment like hot wax. It's tempting to brand "Gran Hotel Buenos Aires" the ultimate chill-out album, but that's shortchanging it. Aubele makes an old art form viable and even alluring to a new audience, especially an audience outside of Argentina.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.