Erick Sherman
contributor
April 27, 2006
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Tango Saloon Tango Saloon
April 18, 2006
Ipecac Recordings
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Rock Music Reviews
Tango Saloon

The Tango Saloon sounds a lot like it reads: sexy, retro, and classic but not completely.

What the name hints at, the massive cast of musicians (including a Mr. Bungle Alumnus) illustrates in immaculate detail. Curwin leads this auditory expedition into his Australian reinvention of tango music, employing every possible performance element to invoke the spirit of the tango.

Live the 15-member-cast of dirty looking would-be old westerners reputedly inspires Sydneys audiences to wild dance interpretations of anything from bar-brawls to classic and seductive tango. But if you cant afford to export yourself to the land down under, youd be wise to import a copy of their incredible self-titled debut.

On record Curwin fluidly leads this 60-limbed, 15-headed (and cowboy-hatted) music-making behemoth through a musical excursion totaling about one hours worth of instrumental brilliance. Every bit of ornamental musical detail fits his vision and helps create an animated picture of a genre that inspired this release.
There is not a single sour track in this collection of 14 gems. Highlights include two of the records more exploratory pieces.

Curwins compositional tip-of-the hat to Danny Elfman on March of the Big Shoe, calls to mind the devious piano clunking from the theme to Tim Burtons Beetle Juice. The groove is infectious, rowdy and silly enough to paint a mental picture of Michael Keaton abducting Wynona Ryder in order to compete in an undead dance-off hosted (naturally) in some Texan ghost town.

Every bit of over-the-top Bunglery pent up in drummer and percussionist Danny Heifetz found its place all over Man with the Bongos. Over eight minutes of bongo blasting, tromboning, and finger cymbaling crown the center of the album with non-linear, schizophrenic genre-bending genius. Consider this track a jovial musical challenge to any and every serious dancer in the world.

But Big shoes and bongos are just the swangin doors and the Stagger Lees to the saloon. Within lurk the soft delights of decadent whores, and intoxicating concoctions from these musical bootleggers. However their services cost a nominal fee: $13.99. Follow your desire: buy it.

Release date: April 18, 2006
Label: Ipecac
Rating: 8.0 / 10

[RMR]