Daniel Melingo’s tango can be compared to a pitch black comedy play. With his dark, versatile voice and his unorthodox pick of instruments, Melingo creates a sound which in itself is visual enough to create shadowy, bittersweet pictures in the mind of the listener. Even when the lyrics are so heavily seasoned with Argentine backstreet lingo that they are incomprehensible to foreign listeners, the emotive feel of the music can not be mistaken.
Melingo grew up in the 1960s with a musical interest influenced by his grandparents’ love for tango and classical music, and his cousins’ discovery of Rock. A talented musician, young Daniel learned to master different instruments, and featured as a guitarist in rock act Los Twist and a saxophonist in the legendary Los Abuelos de la Nada. In the early Eighties, while the Argentinian creative society was pressured by the military dictatorship, Melingo was involved in the independent theatre scene. He spent a few years in Spain, picking up an interest for electronic music and beginning to feel “musically restless”. Moving back to Argentina, he started to develop his interest for tango and paying attention to this musical form, going back to its roots. His first take was Tangos Bajos, a 1998 album taking tango back to where it was born and raised: the back alleys and seedy bars – the Buenos Aires of sailors, thieves, and prostitutes. Writing lyrics in Lunfardo, the slang that developed with the lower classes involved in tango music, gave Melingo’s songs more of their seedy authenticity.
In the course of the following five albums, Melingo’s music developed into an entity of its own and has started resembling a musical theatre in which every tune is a Pandora’s box of rich melodies, weird, Lunfardo-esque lyrics and an almost visual sound that changes from warm and consoling to dark and desperate.
With his newest album, Linyera, the 57 year old artist and performer has proved once again that he adds new life and popularity to Argentina’s most famous musical genre. A multi-talent, Melingo plays several instruments, and is said to give live acts resembling Charlie Chaplin’s melancholy comedy. Melingo’s soulful music performed on stage, where he can reach the audience, will be a mesmerising experience.
Text: Kristian Krogh-Sørensen