They formed in 1999. Their first release was Vuelvo Al Sur/El Capitalismo Foraneo in 2000, followed by the album La Revancha del Tango in 2001. Their music is clearly tango, but also uses electronic elements such as samples, beats, and breaks.
Live material was also broadcast on Gilles Peterson's world music show Worldwide on BBC Radio 1 in May 2004. Philippe Cohen Solal has also released a DJ set: Inspiración Espiración - A Gotan Project DJ Set Selected & Mixed by Philippe Cohen Solal (2004). This album is a compilation of classic tangos from the likes of Anibal Troilo and Ástor Piazzolla and Gotan Project remixes. The album also includes a bonus CD with the track "La Cruz del Sur" - which was meant to be included on La Revancha del Tango, but didn't make the cut in 2001.
Before Gotan Project Müller and Cohen Solal formed a duo called Boyz from Brazil.
The song "Santa Maria (del Buen Ayre)" from the La Revancha del Tango album was featured as the music for the main dance sequence in the 2004 movie Shall We Dance?, with Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere. It was also featured in the tango sequence of Take the Lead in 2006. Their music has been featured in American television shows Nip/Tuck, Sex and the City and Chuck, as well as the 2003 Swedish documentary on consumerism, Surplus, and the 2004 documentary on worker-led factory occupation in Argentina, The Take. In 2004, they recorded a little-known Piazzolla piece with Brigitte Fontaine: Rue Saint-louis-en-l'île. In late 2006 the track "Epoca" from the La Revancha del Tango album was featured in a UK television advertisement for Boots, directed by David LaChapelle. Epoca has also featured in commercials for Finish dishwashing detergent in the United States and Australia, and for the portuguese Fox Broadcasting Company series commercials. Their music has also been featured on several episodes of the UK hit TV show, Top Gear.
The name of the trio is a play on the name of a famous Tango compilation album that featured several American classical musicians who came together to record a tango album, originally released in 1982. This album, called the Tango Project, includes a rendition of Carlos Gardel's and Alfredo Le Pera's "Por Una Cabeza" which had been featured in movies like "Scent of a Woman" and "True Lies." Following the renewed success of the "Tango Project" album, the modern trio then decided to give themselves a name that paid tribute to the "Tango Project", this time using a form of wordplay called "vesre" that is very common in Lunfardo, an argot of Rioplatense Spanish. This wordplay involves the reversal of syllables ("vesre" itself is "reves"—the Spanish word for "reverse"—with its syllables reversed). Thus, the word Tango becomes Gotan, the name the trio have chosen for their project in reference to the hugely-successful Tango Project album which helped popularize tango music once again.