Review ·

One of the young Argentines who's caught up in part of the tango renaissance, songwriter/guitarist Federico Aubele creates distinctly Latin rhythms that incorporate the sounds of the 21st century --namely electronica -- without losing touch with their roots. Grand Hotel Buenos Aires perfects this approach in songs such as "Mona," which has an international-spy-movie feel to it, with its low-level repeated bass tones and political spoken-word.


The idea for "Mona" originated when Aubele's friend, author Gonzalo Garces, visited Buenos Aries and read Aubele parts of his new novel, El Futuro (The Future). Garces, who explores what it means to be young in the '90s, has been awarded recognition for his poetry and short stories. Aubele took a radio-theater approach to "Mona," turning Garces's text into not just a recitation but "a sonorous element" of the song, according to a rough translation of the liner notes.

Guitar lines carry most of Aubele's songs, because, like many of his North American and Western European counterparts, Aubele grew up listening to the sounds of the 1960s. When a friend asked him to pretend they were the Beatles, Aubele's long-term love affair with the guitar began. But he soon shifted away from a strictly pop sound and began incorporating native styles, such as flamenco and classical guitar. The various styles make the album multicultural without the inaccessibility that sometimes comes with a purely traditional folk album. Aubele worked with Thievery Corporation to mix his songs, and they, in turn, hooked him up with their label, Eighteenth Street Lounge Music. "Diario de Viaje" works particularly well in this collaborative context, successfully fusing dub electronica with Argentine folk songs.

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