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Two great new releases: tango pop and a dubstep reggae Bolero.

A pop tango and a dubstep Bolero. Fun!

Two recordings came across my desk this week that made me stop, smile, and tap my toes and even pound out a few beats on the desk.  One is in Spanish, the EP  Cross A La Mandibula, and the second is the song/video  Kingston Bolero in…well, you will see.

 Cross A La Mandibula  (Cross To The Jaw) is a 7-track EP by El Italiano, the  nom de plume of Ale Giannini, a 3rd generation tango composer and musician from Buenos Aires and the grandson of famed Argentine tango composer Jose Lanzo. El Italiano lives up to his grandfather’s chops in this EP,  producing a sonic novel that takes you a journey of urban/pop tango  that evokes the imagery of Buenos Aires, the place he calls a “monster of a city”.

El Italiano, delivers each song with the power and passion of classic tango, complete with castanets, but with modern trap drum hits, full orchestration, and sophisticated production found in the latest pop. The final effect is hypnotic, gut-grabbing, and totally unique. The fact that it is in Spanish adds to the power, and even non-Spanish specking listeners will understand what is going on as he steers you through the streets, emotions, history and music of Buenos Aires.

The EP starts with three previously released singles, “El Mito,” “La Primavera” and “La Reputación,” all streaming now on Spotify and Bandcamp.  In each, El Italiano uses his flexible, breathy but very masculine voice, strong drum signatures and soaring orchestration undergirded with synth effects to tell the story of Buenos Aires. He then moves to the new songs,  “La Reputation”, “Toro”, “El Pecado”, and “Redencion” , each a stand-alone work but all brought forth with pronounced tango beats, full orchestration, and pop touches that make them unforgettable.

Where El Italiano is “fuerte” – strong –  and serious and passionate,  Kingston Bolero takes one of the most serious and passionate songs in the English classical music lexicon and turns it on its head in a Jamaican  dance song.  Producer Emanuele Della Valle assembled a superb group of local Jamaican musicians at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studios to record a dance-inducing dubstep reggae underneath the classic “Bolero”. Originally composed in 1928 by the French composer Maurice Ravel as a ballet for Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein, it not only contrasts with the reggae, but adds energy and sensuality to the short, jerky moves of dubstep.

Accompanied by a Della Valle/Randi Malkin–directed video montage of the streets and beaches and parties of Jamaica, Kinston Bolero flowed from Della Vale’s childhood when his grandfather played the song for him. But the vibrant street life and dance world of Jamaica inhabits every minute of it in a perfect blend of classical and modern.  The contrast works so well  it may replace the original as the preferred teen bedroom music.  Of the many, many remixed versions of the classic original, I think I like this one the best.

Check them both out – they make great playlist partners.

Patrick O’Heffernan

Cross A La Mandibula by El Italiano . First three songs on Spotify; full EP available September 24, 2021.

Kingston Bolero by Emanuele Della Valle, released July 30, 2021 by Hen House Studios. Stream of Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp. Video on YouTube.



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About Patrick O'Heffernan, Music Sin Fronteras (471 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is also edits a local news website and is a subeditor of a local Spanish language newspaper. Check out his weekly column Music Sin Frontera on Sunday nights.

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