The versatile accordionist from Argentina delivers his most alluring set of chamamé tunes yet
If we count The Charm of Chamamé — the compilation album that sparked broad interest in Chango’s bucolic North-East Argentine folk music — as his nominal debut, this latest release represents the point at which the world music third album itch syndrome often sets in, when fickle listeners such as yours truly keep our date with the artist only to find ourselves casting furtive glances at the alluring new genre across the other side of the room. Not this time with Pyandi — Los Descalzos, his most well-rounded work yet and a further step closer to a recorded reflection of one of the best live ensembles currently operating on the scene. Chango is still at the centre of things with his inventive musicianship, contrastingly swooning, lyrical, jaunty or attacking with fiery bellowing bursts of energy. But he’s as often as not in ringmaster mode, a constant presence but holding equal billing with his fellow musicians (violin, cello, acoustic guitar, cajon, and some beautiful plaintive vocal excursions by Sebastián Villalba), who waltz around him on a suite of arrangements subtly imbued with reflective jazz and classical tones, and often reminiscent of the java/musette café music of Paris, a well as the more familiar strains of tango, ranchero and polka that blend so seamlessly with the rusticity of chamamé.
These guys can paint pictures and moods with music like no other ensemble around right now, and — like its predecessor, Tarefero De Mis Pagos — Pyandi — Los Descalzos is a real grower, and one of those rare albums that just has to be played from start to finish.