Bio Ritmo La Verdad

Maintaining their status as one of the most groundbreaking post-salsa bands of the last decade, Bio Ritmo continue to mix clave and cascara with wailing solos, spacey synths and otherworldly percussion some 20 years after a chance encounter between three friends in a Richmond, VA art school. From the onset of "Dina's Mambo," the chugging bass line and riffing organ channel Deep Purple or the Doors, before a heated Fania-esque montuno, topped off by Tobias Whitaker's monumental trombone solo. "Carnival" is a nod to famous Puerto Rican composer Rafael Cortijo, a childhood favourite of Bio Ritmo's two founding Puerto Rican members. A wailing horn section smoulders over "Verquenza," trading bars with the coro vocals, while Giustino Riccio's stellar timbale fills affirm his "street salsa" roots. While the synth keys heard on "Caravana Del Vejigante" border on cheesy, stellar conga and bass playing make up for it. "Lola's Dilemma" finds the group revamping their hit cha-cha-cha with a snaking montuno that dramatically rocks out for a tenor sax solo. When the song transforms into a washed-out dub-stepper groove it works surprisingly well; it's a perfect send off from a group who know exactly how to push the boundaries of salsa to forge their sound. I'd expect nothing less from a band who seemingly don't fit under the modern salsa umbrella. (Electric Cowbell)