Last year I reviewed a 7'' single by Bio Ritmo and I didn't know it back then, but that tune, "Dina's Mambo" soon became one of my favorite warm-up tracks in permanent rotation in my vinyl DJ sets and still remains in that status today. I don't know exactly what is it about it but I love it.
Bio Ritmo is essentially an alternative salsa band from an odd place, Richmond, Virginia. If you know me or read my blog, you know as a DJ I don't like playing salsa in my sets. Not only because of my aversion toward salsa dancers and their lack of understanding/respect for DJ work, but also because I tend to DJ at mixed crowd events and playing a salsa in your set can be a risky show-stopper. You have the crowd dancing to everything else, you play a salsa (usually because some annoying Venezuelan is busting your balls all night begging you to do so) and all of a sudden the dance-floor gets divided between those few who know how to dance salsa and like to show off their moves, and the rest who are intimidated/alienated into becoming simply observers. Soon after that it's your job as a DJ to try to pick up the party and reunite the crowd with something the majority can relate to.
Now regarding the music itself, I have nothing against it per se. I don't like the modern, cheesy, mainstream pop salsa, of course (my DJ-for-hire contract states that money being provided I'll play anything the customer wants... except Marc Anthony). But I have lots of respect for the old school, from the times when salsa was more street and more afro. I have the feeling that the Bio Ritmo guys share this view with me and that's the sound and aesthetics they're trying to recreate here, but with a modern twist. Breaking with all the clichés of the typical salsa bar band that plays covers of classics and standards simply to make those mentioned annoying fuckers dance, Bio Ritmo does their own thing, in their own style and play good, original music that can be easily appreciated by open-minded people who are not necessarily into salsa at all.
Fuck those salsa orthodox fans anyway. Bio Ritmo plays salsa but leans heavily on the funkier side of it, and has no issues blending in some Brazilian samba or dub, and that's the main reason I love them. Oh and there's another reason: their album is getting pressed on 12'' vinyl (and distributed by Fat Beats). Right, bitches! The only current salsa band in the US releasing vinyl! Learn a lesson or two from these guys all you clowns out there with the silk shirts and shiny shoes doing your choreographed ballroom dance twists and turns and making DJ lives impossible. Bio Ritmo rocks and it's the only salsa band that gets a free pass here in The Hard Data.