Parisian production team the Gotan Project may have brought the combination of tango and electronic music to the world stage, but their take is best described as electronic music with tango references.
For the inverse of that equation, look to Buenos Aires group Narcotango, created by Carlos Libedinsky at exactly the moment when the rest of the world was warming to the idea.
"The first big reaction came from outside Argentina, partly because we're more traditional there," recalls Libedinsky in heavily accented English from his hotel in Montreal. "The DJs at home told me they liked it but that they couldn't play it at the milongas (tango dances). I made some demos and gave them to friends. Some of them teach classes outside Argentina, and played these songs at them. Because of that, many people around the world were asking for this album more than a year before it came out."
In the two years since he officially released his mission statement, the hardcore tango audience in Argentina has embraced these experiments. This fusion has become the standard for TV show theme songs and commercials and is heard in most bars. According to Libedinsky, the shift was inevitable.
"People are really open to this sound. It was necessary; something new had to happen. I started to make this music because I like to dance tango but felt like I needed to move my body to something more modern. Tango dancing has been changing over the past 10 or 15 years, but the music wasn't changing with it."
After travelling around the world playing traditional tango on solo guitar, he returned home to his studio and set about turning his desire for change into reality. It took two years to finish the album independently, and soon the solo project grew to a full band concept.
"I didn't know how people would react, but when I started playing it for my friends in my studio I opened up the doors to the patio and they started to dance to it, so I knew something was there."
Now that there's a solid live lineup, Narcotango has been able to develop songs in a more natural way, and are scheduled to release a follow-up album in November. This isn't just a house beat with some accordion - these musicians are steeped in the tradition of tango and are trying to update it with respect and without losing touch with the rhythms and moods at the heart of the dance.