Bio Ritmo Celebrates Its 30th Year As A Band With New Album “Salsa System”
In an era of short attention spans, its rare to see an artist have longevity with social media stars rising as fast as they fall. Enter Bio Ritmo, who have been blazing a trail playing some of the hardest hitting and far reaching modern salsa for 30+ years now. Richmond VA’s Bio Ritmo have grown into one of the most exciting and unpredictable Latin dance bands in the world. They are the true salsa rebels who have defied being pigeonholed. They keep bodies on the dance floor with a nitty gritty, vintage groove while keeping heads turning with experimental synth tones and electronic textures. They have a fierce, almost punk rock DIY ethos that pervades their attitude and style, releasing their records independently or on tastemaker labels like Merge, Fat Beats and Electric Cowbell.
To celebrate their 30 year milestone, Electric Cowbell is releasing the 4-track Salsa System EP (for the first time on vinyl) on December 9. The release was engineered and mixed by the multiple GRAMMY award winner Jon Fausty and came out in 2006 on digital platforms only. A legend in the evolution of salsa music, Fausty recorded 100’s of Fania Record’s most crucial releases for over four decades by legacy artists like Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and Ruben Blades to name but a few. Salsa System has been remastered for this limited edition vinyl release featuring original artwork by the band’s singer and founder Rei Alvarez and a wicked OBI wrap under the shrink wrap. A bonus song, “Bionic Boogaloo” (from Bionico) was added to help fill out the 10” with its cool take on the Bionic Man Theme. Pre-order the vinyl at https://electriccowbellrecords.bandcamp.com/album/salsa-system.
Bio Ritmo’s co-writer and pianist Marlysse Simmons explains how this release came about, “Gabo Tomasini, our conga player and manager at the time, had the idea. We got in touch with Jon and he was excited to get in the studio, but it was costly to bring all 10 of us down to Tampa where Jon was. It worked out when we found a studio with the gear that Jon required in Northern Virginia only 2 hours north of us. Working with Jon was surreal, because of the legend he is, we were all nervous for sure. We learned a lot during that session. But also we gained confidence in who we were. Yes our approach to salsa is probably different from the bands Jon was used to working with but in the end, we got Jon’s approval and it helped us feel more confident in our mission. He schooled us in one way – I remember Rei had to take a few takes of his sonero, cause Jon knew he had it in him to do better. And he did!”
Rei Alvarez adds to the sentiment, “Salsa System is a particularly inspiring release because it was an important milestone in our trajectory, which I refer to as our own ‘salsa boot camp.’ We had the fortune of working with legendary engineer Jon Fausty of Fania records fame. Apart from the music having been at a point where our style as an orquestra was truly solidifying, we got an important lesson as to how a salsa band’s sound is brought to life in the studio. Traveling to Florida to do the work was exciting as well, as it got us out of our usual Richmond ‘comfort zone.’
The band concludes, “The title Salsa System is quite appropriate because our sound at the time was finally being honed into something truly ours; all of our influences converging into a unique style. The process seemed more intentional and controlled than before.”
After a hiatus from performing due to COVID, Bio Ritmo is ready to celebrate their 30 year birthday and new vinyl EP on December 1 at NYC’s infamous Nublu. They are coming hot on the heels from their sold out hometown Richmond show and will bring their infectious energy and more! More info can be found at http://www.nublu.net.
Lastly, Washington DC fans can attend a vinyl listening party on December 10th at Byrdland Records (https://byrdlandrecords.com), and cop the record alongside other Electric Cowbell vinyl.