Bio Ritmo have been in the game since 1991. Their legacy continues to grow and they receive praise from around the world for being one of the hottest salsa groups around. While they tap into vintage Nuyorican salsa, they are not limited by being an imitation of sounds from the past. They honor tradition but are not stifled by it and continue to push the boundaries on their latest release on Vampisoul.
Puerta del Sur follows their successful 2011 album, La Verdad, which marked the band’s 20th anniversary in style. The acclaim led to them playing European festivals, taking their blend of salsa to far reaches of the globe. This is because the music doesn’t lie and the only thing better than a Bio Ritmo album is a live performance by the group. They’ve taken all of this energy and applied it to one of their finest records to date.
Mighty horn stabs, impressive arrangements, energetic acoustic piano and tender, calculated electric piano fill Puerta del Sur with the sort of lifeforce expected from a band whose name translates in English to “biorhythm,” the cyclic pattern of activity that occurs during a person’s life. Lead singer and composer Rei Alvarez knows what it takes to get the music across to an audience and his steady vocals take the charge with the ensemble in support. Marlysse Rose Simmons is the leader/acting manager of the group and her keyboard work serves as the glue that binds the groove together. The horns and rhythm section are locked throughout the release and their strength builds the intensity of each composition. Soulful, harmonized backing vocals are the icing on the cake.
“La Vía” is an energetic song about the spontaneity of things. It leads down the unknown path ahead, taking life as it comes. Funky keyboards dig deep while Alvarez darts and dashes his lyrics between the supporting vocals. Horns and percussion lively up the track with abundance. “Picaresca” is a deadly instrumental descarga that paints the picture of a crooked hero who is appealing but dishonest. The piano dances up a storm on this one while layers of horns ascend towards the sky.
“Motocilengua” is a made up term for a motor-mouth. Get a dose of that baritone sax joining the horn section before the verse kicks off with some slinky electric piano underneath Alvarez’s vocals. The horn attack on this number is out of sight. “Codeína” is the real surprise of the record. The band has always enjoyed Middle Eastern music and took the opportunity to write a bolero with a Middle Eastern melody about a woman named Codeína. This amazing song reveals how far Bio Ritmo has come over the years. It is their willingness to evolve and adapt that keeps them at the forefront of salsa music. May Puerta del Sur bring them legions of new fans.