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Paris has long been a musical, as well as an artistic, melting pot, earning itself a reputation as the global center for world music. The city’s central and North African population have long been the main source of spice, but recently some new flavors are coming through.

For decades now, Paris has been home to a significant number of tango musicians in exile from the political turmoil in Argentina. Four years ago, one such group of musicians joined ranks with the sharpest of the city’s cutting-edge club music producers to form the Gotan Project, which will be bringing its infectious neo-tango to Roppongi Hills Arena, Nov. 15-16.

In the late ’90s, the phenomenal success of dance groups like Daft Punk, Air and Cassius turned club culture’s eyes to France for the first time, and during this period one of the founders of the Gotan Project, Philippe Cohen Solal, was busy producing compilations of French house and techno, as well as his own music. He took a break to work as music supervisor for various film productions, working with the likes of Lars von Trier (director of “Dancer in the Dark,”), but it was hooking up with Eduardo Makaroff and other tango musicians that inspired his return to the studio and the launching of the Gotan Project.

A little bit later, Christoph H. Muller, came on board. Having relocated to Paris from his native Switzerland, Muller had done his South American groundwork producing various techno/ethnic projects like The Boys From Brazil, before joining Gotan.

“It was a double inspiration,” Solal explains, in an e-mail interview. “On the one hand, bringing the emotion and rhythmic diversity of tango and Argentine folklore to electronic music and, on the other, bringing more modern, contemporary elements to tango, in order to take it [back] to the dance floor.”

It’s certainly not the first time that “world music” forms have been fused with electronics, but only rarely has it been accomplished with such panache. Such collaborations can often come across as gimmicky, but that’s not the case with Gotan, who obviously have a deep understanding of each musical element they work with.

As their debut album in 2001, “La Revancha Del Tango (Tango’s Revenge),” testifies, the Gotan groove is as diverse as it is ground-breaking, recasting tango’s dance-steps with hip-hop and breakbeats, house and reggae rhythms and propelled by restrained piano, dramatic violin, the bandoneon (a raunchier, sexier kind of accordion) and the vocals of Veronika Silva. Dub is also crucial to the fusion, helping to blend the electronic sounds of dance music and the acoustic instrumentation of tango, and enveloping the whole in a smoky haze.

While being truly 21st-century dance music, it also re-injects the original spirit of danger and passion that was blanched out of tango in the course of its gradual gentrification. It may have been associated with polite social dances for longer than we care to remember, but tango was born in the brothels and slums of Buenos Aires early in the 20th century, and derived from African rhythms — the word “tango” itself coming from an African dialect. It was originally energetic, working-class rebel music — as radical in its day as punk was in the ’70s. Acknowledging these roots, the band take its name from early Argentine street slang for tango, derived from switching the letters in the word around, in much the same way as 1950s Japanese musicians took the “ja” and “zu” of “jazz” and reversed it to make “zu-ja.”

“Paris is the second capital of tango, where in the 1920s tango became glamorous, and was then globally accepted,” says Solal. “Gotan Project could probably not have been formed in Argentina, because the tradition of tango is too strong and musicians wouldn’t dare touch the tradition in the way we did. Often, radical change in a musical style comes from the outside. Also, the best exiled tango musicians from Argentina live in Paris.”

As for the reactions of tango traditionalists to Gotan’s fusion, Solal says: “It’s astonishing, but we had very few negative reactions, and those were not founded on good arguments. Fundamentalism of any kind makes no sense and doesn’t make the world evolve. This is true also for music — traditionalism kills the music in the end.”

It’s not only tango that Gotan is turning on its head, but also the modern club experience. Dancing in night clubs has been a solitary experience since the rise of disco, but not when Gotan play — the room, and often the streets outside after the show, are filled with young couples dancing together. Solal’s stint as film-music supervisor seems to have seeped into the presentation of Gotan’s live shows, which often start off with the musicians hidden by a large screen on which images of dancers are projected, presumably to get the audience in a dancing mood, before the veil is lifted to reveal the musicians, with Muller and Solal working their decks at the back of the stage.

“We wanted to give something more than a traditional concert — something like a real visual and musical trip, a sort of video installation, arty and poetic,” he adds. Gotan also have an arty and poetic Web site to boot, and are signed, not to a frumpy world music company, but the long-standing dance-music label XL.

So, has tango had its revenge?

“Yes, luckily tango took its sweet revenge with the international success of Gotan Project; and we hope that many people who loved our album will discover our tango heroes like Anibal Troilo, Osvaldo Pugliese and, of course, Astor Piazzola.”

With the buzz about their live shows spreading like wildfire, Gotan have taken the tango gospel on tour across Europe and America, and now Japan for the first time (though not, as yet, to Argentina).

So, could we see couples dancing in the streets of Roppongi? Considering the Japanese flirtation, since the ’50s, with all things Latin, and seeing as Tokyo is a city where anything can happen, that may just happen.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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