Long before I knew I was interested in dance, all I listened to was 90s industrial metal and goth rock. Nothing wrong with that, besides being angry all the time, and there is a place for that vibe for sure but... One day I walked into the (now closed) Tower Records Classical Annex looking for something dramatic on the listening stations. What I found was unexpected, a tango CD by someone called Astor Piazzolla. While I didn't have the $$ for the CD at the time, I returned to the store for a solid week just to listen to that tango music.
Astor's genius has now been a solid staple of my music collection for nearly 10 years.
The album I love the most is Tango: Zero Hour.
From a review on Amazon:
Piazzolla (bandoneón) and the musicians he assembled for this quintet (Fernando Suárez Paz, violin; Pablo Ziegler, piano; Horacio Malvicino, Sr., guitar; and Héctor Console, bass) gave the performances of their collective lifetimes when they made this album, recorded in NYC in May of 1986. It is the zenith of Piazzolla's career - and that's saying a lot, considering the contributions he made to music in his lifetime.
The music is nuevo tango - the traditional soul of tango, full of the emotion that it has always carried (and with which it carries its listeners and dancers), charged and reborn with all of the grit and grime that exists `at street level'. Gosh - if the tangos we're used to hearing and seeing in the old films made your grandmother blush, this would most certainly put her on the floor in a dead faint. The music is intricately composed - but at the same time, it is FELT in the depths of the soul. There is nothing whatsoever cold and emotionless about it. The musicians themselves are of the highest caliber - some are classically trained, some have their roots in jazz, but they are all under the spell of Piazzolla's vision. The quiet passages purr and stroke the senses, the more strident ones will pick the listener up and toss them around. The music will make you want to close your eyes and drift away one moment, then have you sweating the next.
More on the genius of Astor Piazzolla:
The music of Astor Piazzolla epitomized our situation in the modern world with his fusion of folkloric beauty and contemporary tension. He forged a new music that challenged the traditionalist and left the adventurous craving more. He took the music of the great tango masters like Garde, ripped it away from the velvet-walled concert hall and the soft-cushion drawing room, and slapped it down on the pavement of Buenos Aires. Reviled by the critics, shunned even by the conservative government, his music spoke to the next generation, and popular and jazz musicians and listeners all over the world eventually fell under the spell of his "nuevo tango." In recent years, Piazzolla has taken the new tango back to the concert halls, composing and performing works for chamber ensembles like Kronos Quartet, larger groups like The Orchestra of St. Luke's, even an opera company. These works brought his once radical music back into the mainstream.