Bionico (Locutor Records , 2008)
Afro-Latin band Bio Ritmo has been a favorite of East Coast college students for several years. Based in Richmond (Virginia), it is one of the finest exponents of the new salsa and Latin dance music acts that have sprouted in the New South (Virginia, North Carolina). Bio Ritmo looks back to the golden age of [wiki:salsa], [wiki:boogaloo] and [wiki:disco], in the 1970s, but at the same time, adds new blood to the genre, injecting synthesizers, samples, a vintage drum machine and other electronic elements.
One of the most interesting aspects of Bio Ritmo is that they compose their own material. Puerto Rican vocalist Rei Alvarez, percussionist Giustino Riccio and keyboardist Marlysse Rose Simmons provide most of the high quality material. “Salsa is perfect for us; we’re such a crazy mix of people, influences, and styles. That’s what salsa is,” explains Alvarez. “We play on top of this foundation, so it’s a given that deep down it’s salsa. But now our other influences come through too.”
Bio Ritmo’s players range from a formerly dreadlocked dub reggae drummer, a hardcore punk rocker, jazz, rock, disco, and Miami funk players, and a classically-trained pianist. “That’s what makes us unique; there are so many influences. We come from this generation, because of our age, and where we grew up… We’re so enriched with these influences, so many different styles and aesthetics, the places we hang out at. It’s time for all this stuff to come through,” says Alvarez.