A member of The Tango Saloon, an experimental tango band (that’s a thing) from Australia, Julian Curwin has taken a step back with his solo outings and the result is perfectly cinematic, fit for a noir western. The fourth volume of his series The Mango Balloon features guest keyboardist Matt McMahon.
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“If anyone can do this, you can!” Well… I believe that challenge has been accepted, Clint. So Mr Curwin takes a step or two back -- and then a step sideways -- from his other day job as an experimental tango-ist (with The Tango Saloon) to compose and perform on this set of Morricone-esque instrumentals. As Curwin does so, he seems to have scored an alternative Aussie Western; one which has nothing to do with Nick Cave nor any of his Bad Seeds.
Curwin leads his sextet of able players on guitar, piano and sometimes melodica. ‘Assassins’ takes us on a horseback detour through the streets of Buenos Aires with its pavement accordion and clip-clopping hooves (or probably coconuts). On ‘The Return’ they trot proudly into a Mexican town (wait, are they lost?) to a solo muted trumpet and 3 / 4 time bandoneon. The guitar and double-bass on ‘Drifter’ would not be out of place on a Tarantino soundtrack. Throughout this review, just picture me wearing a poncho and with a piece of straw protruding through my clenched teeth.
It’s pretty good -- not bad -- and never ugly. That's all I've got.
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