Review: Valses by Romantica Milonguera

Review: Valses by Romantica Milonguera

You can depend on Romantica Milonguera in many important ways.

One is the frequency and volume of their output. Every couple of months, there is a new release - a single, a short album, or at least a video on YouTube. And that was true even when COVID locked the scene down for months at a time.

Another is consistency. There is no experimentation, no navel gazing: all their tracks are made for the dance floor.

This consistency also applies to their arrangements. Those who are not fans might say that all their covers sound the same. And they are right, in a way, but remember: their music is not meant to be consumed by your ears alone. It's supposed to shine a bright light on the dance floor so that people can be happy for twelve minutes or so.

Their latest contribution to the Global Tango Happiness Index (GTHI) is called Valses. Them having no ironic bone in their bodies, you will get exactly what you would expect. Six of them, to be exact.

The music in detail

Pequeña was recorded by Maderna and De Angelis, both in 1949, and it's probably the latter that you have met at a milonga. The version by Romantica boosts the optimism and tempo and oozes happines all the way through.

The one and only definitive version of Paisaje was made by Pedro Laurenz with Alberto Podestá in 1943. It surely needs no introduction. As such, it gives stiff resistance to its re-interpretation.

Romantica took a smart way out and casted Ximena Gimenez to sing in its cover. That way, a comparison to Podestá is less likely to come up, and the cover stands on its own legs.

There are several versions of Tu olvido available in the classical repertoire, e.g. Tanturi's. Romantica made theirs a duet, their singers Roberto Minondi and Ximena Gimenez taking turns in driving the narrative. I think it worked out great!

Sueña is a captivating, dreamy vals only ever recorded by Miguel Caló with Alberto Podestá back in 1954. It's a nightmare to compile a tanda around it since Podestá recorded no other valses in that period neither with Caló not anyone else.

Romantica's version attenuated the dreamy qualities of the song, favoring a more direct, celebratory approach. You can still dream along but it will be a very vivid, action-packed affair!

The popularity of Bajo un cielo de estrellas is hard to overstate, and Romantica Milonguera adds their contribution to the growing list of its contemporary covers. The band exploits every phrase to its maximum potential and Roberto Minondi is forceful, operatic but does not dominate. Only a curmudgeon would not approve.

The closing track is Pobre flor, best known from the 1946 version by De Angelis and his singers Dante and Martel. It is a duet here, too, and I was blown away how tighly were Minondi and Gimenez locked together when singing the unisono passages; their precision is incredible! This is not a small feat and they made it look easy.

In closing

I meant to write this review as soon as the album came out mid-February, and then history intervened. Three weeks into the war in Ukraine, I still find it hard to dance, hard to enjoy tango as it's meant to be enjoyed.

Of course, this has nothing to do with this album. I write this to explain the state of mind of this reviewer.

Despite my ongoing reluctance, I forced myself to write this, to listen to the music, to remember what it's like to dance with not a single worry clouding your mind.

Which is what this album can give you. If and when you are open to the experience.

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