Review Bio Ritmo – La Verdad
This is salsa, though with a difference. The instruments are the same, the rhythms the same, but there’s a difference in the attitude and confidence. It’s clear that Bio-Ritmo are taking salsa in a new direction.
Opening track “La Verdad” is a six and a half minute indication of what’s to come. All starts relatively straightforward and salsa-like, albeit with a funk wah-wah riff leading the way, but then something magical happens, tropical horns and an organ suddenly battle it out before a short bridge dominated by a hallucinatory keyboard pattern shifts the song somewhere else entirely for just a few seconds. Then the original riff comes back, though this time the guitar has been replaced by a Brazilian cuíca, and a call-and-response routine between horns and vocals are now getting all the attention, and there’s still two minutes to go.
As an introduction to what Bio-Ritmo are capable of it doesn’t really get much better than the title track… except it does. “Dina’s Mambo” is seriously funky with a series of highly percussive horn and organ jabs punctuating an incessant groove, one that slips between bombast and quietude yet always remaining delightfully, danceably sublime.
“Carnaval”, which also makes good use of the cuíca (and which is the only massive deviation from typical salsa instrumentation), is the kind of track that you know would blow you away live. It mixes a ridiculously high tempo groove with a fluctuating keyboard groove and exaltative spoken-word vocals. The moment when the horn section cuts in halfway through the sax solo before speeding off into some strange Arabic shapes is one of the many delights of the album.
There are only eight tracks on La Verdad but within those tracks are packed more quality salsa grooves and innovations than many bands will ever accrue in their careers. Most importantly, it also manages to be an album that can be enjoyed via headphones or with your feet on the dancefloor, and this is something that many dance-orientated Latin albums miss, too often are they slaves to the rhythm. Give me La Verdad any day of the week.
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