Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Interview with The Gotan Project

It's like a weird underground current. With no discernible publicity or public profile, somehow the grungy Brixton Academy in London has filled up with an eclectic crowd of thousands, a crowd that ranges from greying hi-fi boffins to the scarily young and pierced, to see a band occupying a niche for electronic tango. Months later, in Munich, that current only seems to have gathered force. Are there any tickets for the Gotan Project? Am I kidding? A German shrug. "We have been sold out six weeks now."

The three musical collaborators at the heart of the Gotan Project are almost as diverse as the crowd. Eduardo Makaroff, an Argentinian guitarist steeped in the traditions of tango, is a genial paterfamilias; Christoph H. Mueller, who is Swiss but met his fellow Gotans in the musical melting pot of Paris, is a casting agency's serious musical experimentalist; and French MC Philippe Cohen Solal, true to the spirit of rock'n'roll, doesn't emerge from his hotel room until the interview is almost over.

On stage, however, he manages to be a powerful presence even from his position at the back of the stage, standing at the keyboard behind a great gang of acoustic players, a piano and the lushly glamorous vocalist, Cristina Vilallonga. Suited and booted, as they all are, in white, he conducts his own beats with a flourish reminiscent of Kraftwerk in their most cabaret moments. The weave of sounds is infectious - Gotan is, apparently, the dance downloader's favourite - but it is also constantly surprising.
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