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29 juillet 2005

Echoes from the end of the world

Argentine accordion player Chango Spasiuk, one of the stars of this weekend's Womad festival, talks to Mark Hudson

'Imagine a pot that's been bubbling for 400 years," says Chango Spasiuk,
"with different musical influences being thrown in - African, baroque, Indian, Eastern European - but everything going on simmering together. That's the way music has developed in the tierra colorada - the red land."

Chango Spasiuk: 'If you're born in Argentina, you grow up in a certain air, with a certain rhythm'

A dashing figure with flashing eyes and a long red-gold mane, the 36-year-old accordion virtuoso about to appear at the Womad festival this weekend is the musical figurehead of Argentina's extreme north-east - the vermilion-earthed badlands of Misiones province. It's a place where life, culture and even music have been moulded by back-breaking agricultural labour - cultivating the leaves for the national beverage, mate.

While the character of Argentine music remains rather elusive in the eyes of the rest of the world, the status of its one great musical export - the tango - has been given an enormous boost by Gotan Project's stylish digital fusion. Yet the country also has a wealth of regional folk music, of which - according to Spasiuk - his own chamamé music is both the most distinctive and the most marginalised....

Womad is at Rivermead, Reading, from tomorrow until Sun.

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