Yayo Cáceres - Exterior
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Yayo Cáceres
Mateina (www.galileo-mc.com)

cd cover Try as I might, I've never been able to develop much enthusiasm for Argentine tango. Despite claims for its passion, I've found the form unsatisfying, cold and abstract. Such doubts informed my approach to Exterior by Argentine composer and accordionist Yayo Cáceres, but the recording won me over. The production is acoustic, dominated by Cáceres' accordion and Rodrigo Díaz' cello, and the album features powerful, dramatic songs enlivened by Cáceres' heartfelt tenor, alternated with tango-inflected instrumentals that offer punctuation, reinforcement and relief.

From the initial dramatic cello pulses of "Luna Sagrada," Cáceres' vocal compels, and as the song accelerates into a trotting waltz, the accordion and cello conspiring with the vocal in an exultant, breathless longing, an infectious, anthemic excitement. On "Rio Parana," a slow, dreamy nylon-string guitar, subtle cello, and tasteful accordion underlie another wonderful vocal performance, strong and narrative, eternity in a river. "La Calandria," the first instrumental track, is a pulsing waltz, the lead taken alternately by Cáceres' accordion and the playful, actually lilting, cello of Rodrigo Díaz, light enough to offer a needed respite from the high drama of the first two tracks.

"Yuyito" begins with spoken narration, adds galloping hand percussion and guitar beneath Cáceres' assured and passionate vocal, the first refrain conveying a thrill of immediate recognition even on first hearing, the second verse even more affecting with a staccato string backing. It ends with a conversational, uproarious, yet melodic duet with co-writer Juan Pablo Fernández, for one of the highlights of the recording.

"Ruta del Alma" sports a quiet 6/8 march rhythm from the guitar, cello and accordion, the refrain very Spanish with walking bass and hand claps. In "Franchute," one of the more intriguing instrumentals, a slow accordion waltz intro simply champs at the bit, releasing tension through reverb, with trumpet, tuba, and cello joining to form a swaying, melancholy prettiness.

Exterior contains 21 tracks and includes Spanish liner notes with lyrics and comments about the songs. Perhaps I liked this recording because it is not classic tango, but it would be difficult to resist an artist with the compositional and interpretative sensitivity of Yayo Cáceres. - Jim Foley

CD available from cdRoots

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