Mardulce, Bajofondo’s pleasingly steamy second album, is one of those rare collaborations that manage to have things both ways, mixing tango’s hearted sensuality and the coolness of electronic dance music. And Argentinean producer and Oscar-winning composer (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Babel”) Gustavo Santaolalla and Uruguayan producer Jean Campodonico, manage to keep the results at just the right temperature — running at a lively simmer, but never boiling over.
On instrumentals such as “Cristal,” the bandoneon, piano and strings (which bring a touch of Philly soul to the mix) tease each other, seductively playing with the rhythm, while looped rhythms impassively mark the beat beneath them. It’s a dual seduction, with neither side willing to give itself to the other, resulting in an exquisite tension. The seven songs that feature singer keep the mood from turning monotonous, from an understated Elvis Costello on “Fairly Right,” to the gravelly “Juan Subira” the playful rapping of “”La Mala Rodriguez on “El Andean” to Julieta Venagas on the airy “Pa’ Bailar—Siempre Quiero Mas.” It’s a combination that makes “Mardulce” a perfect soundtrack to a summer romance.