First impressions: Algo contigo by Romantica Milonguera

First impressions: Algo contigo by Romantica Milonguera

Romantica Milonguera has a new album out: Algo contigo. Swift, melodic, naturally danceable. You'll like it!

This release features 10 songs: 7 remakes of popular tango classics, 3 covers of pop-music remade with tango beats. All of those performed with the unique flair that makes Romantica who they are.

Here's Remembranza that opens the album:

What I noticed

New singer!

This is only news to me, obviously, since I don't live in Argentina and don't know for how long has Ximena Gimenez sung with Romantica.

Nowhere could I find her name on Romantica's Facebook. Finally, I found a description on an Instagram post that named her. I hope I got it right; if not, a further edit will make it right.

She has a gorgeous, warm expression that serves the music beautifully. There's no pretension and no drama: she's calm, very clear and always on the beat. ❤️

In other news, the Romantica has sped up! [EDIT: this is old news, Tom, you dummy! Their album "Siga el Baile" from May 2019 already did that, but you missed it...]

Their earlier releases rarely went over 60 BPM. That's fine, of course; 60 is pretty comfortable. It's just that I could not use their music when I needed faster tempos in my ronda.

Algo contigo only has three slow songs: Yesterday, a remake of the Beatles' annoying hit piece, crawling at 40 BPM; Mariposita, the loveliest cover I've heard in a long time, moving along at almost normal walking beat, and a moderately timed Rebeldía.

All the rest is pretty swift. Good!

The songs

Remembranza is solid, starting with the typical enthusiasm and omnipresent embellishments that are Romantica's signature. Some dancers might prefer slower renditions that are closer to Malerba's original from 1943. I'm agnostic about that; a well-planned tanda can make this shine, too.

Dime mi amor is a welcome remake of the tune we know from Juan D'Arienzo con Héctor Mauré as they recorded it in 1941. That's a long time, and the song did benefit from Romantica's fresh makeover.

What may trigger some people is Romantica's rendition of Hasta siempre amor. At 67 BPM and featuring relentless  beats, it's by far the most energetic and swift of those I have in my library.

Forgotten are Salamanco's prolonged violin legatos. You won't have time to rotate ever so slowly and place your feet deliberately in slow motion. No, no. This Hasta wastes no time: get moving and save your amor for later!

Rebeldía avoids such controversy: it flows in pretty much the same tempo as Caló's and does not depart from its esthetics.

I have already hinted how much I loved the Mariposita as recorded on this album. It is, without question, most unlike what you would expect from Romantica. Ximena Gimenez takes center stage and enforces the discipline of the orchestra to the level we haven't heard before.

The instruments are gentle, accompany without ever competing for attention, and provide just the beat. And the beat is regular and comforting. It is not solo piece for the singer, it's still a danceable tango. Somehow, though, the flow is very calm, lyrical, and never overbearing in the sense that Romantica often is.

Considering Magdala, I often think about D'Arienzo's rendition with Laborde, and I do so with mixed feelings. There were times I loved it, and then I fell out of that love, and I've never played any tunes with Laborde since.

I would say that Romantica's cover made me think about this tune with a newly found fondness, and I do appreciate Roberto Minondi's performance a lot more.

Gone is the darkness of Laborde's expression. Minondi is operatic, as usual, and the overall feeling has the right energy without the unnecessary despair. If you opt for Biagi with Ortiz, I won't blame you. Still, I will insist that Romantica's version goes in the right direction.

This being "first impressions" instead of a full-blown review, I will reserve my judgement of the remaining track for a possible future apropos. I am not a big fan of Vida mía, a remake of which is present on the album; I made not have made this very clear before, but I despise Osvaldo Fresedo and his work with so much determination that I am unable to be a thoughtful critic here. Other than to say that I prefer pretty much any cover to the original.

The three covers of pop-songs included here perhaps deserve more of my attention. Regrettably, I do not really know the originals, other than Yesterday. Having searched for those on  YouTube and being comfortable with only considering the first few search results, I conclude that Romantica's tango remakes are intensely more satisfying to me.

On a second thought, I think that these tango covers of non-tango songs are more important that they could seem to be. Romantica has already made two such mini-albums: one featuring Beatles covers, another featuring boleros. Both made for the milongueros, in the right rhythm and with the right accents. I don't yet know what to make of it, really, other than to say that I see some potential here.

Final impressions

Romantica Milonguera has a solid track records of music made for milongueros. Their style is very energetic and highly stylized; it's not made for any occasion, and that's a good thing. Each band needs to have its purpose, its unique style and energy, and Romantica most definitely does.

Whether or not this album breaks any new ground is not nearly as interesting as the fact that that it did come out and added ten new songs to the modern repertoire. I am grateful that when I dj, I have 1-2 new tandas at my disposal right away. That does not happen every day, or even every month. Thank you, Romantica!