Ancestral Afro-Venezuelan rhythms meet futuristic Latin jazz, raw funk and Afrobeat on Raúl Monsalve y Los Forajidos’ exhilarating new ‘Bichos’ album for Olindo Records. Venezuelan bassist Raúl Monsalve leads an all-star ensemble of musical trailblazers including “the voice of Venezuela” Betsayda Machado, singer Luzmira Zerpa (Family Atlantica) and drummer Dave De Rose (Agile Experiments, Moloko, Mark Ronson).
Raúl Monsalve has dedicated much of his life to understanding and learning traditional Afro-Venezuelan music, and studying under some of its greatest proponents among the percussionists of his home country, whilst at the same time taking as much interest in the sounds emanating from the fearless edges of jazz, rock, African and early electronic music.
With producer/engineer/drummer Malcolm Catto (Heliocentrics, Quantic, Yussef Kamaal) behind the recording and mixing desk, Raul brought together a like-minded cast of friends from Venezuela, Paris and London, to help him create a fresh sound, capturing the essence of both the African and indigenous roots of Venezuelan music, and the forward-looking sounds of afrobeat, gritty Latin jazz and experimental electronic music. ‘Bichos’, Spanish for ‘vermin’, ‘bugs’, ‘beasts’ but also used in Venezuela to refer to someone as a “nasty piece of work”, draws all these strands together. The album uses a variety of animals, such as the mosquito, butterfly, pig, snake, rooster and flea, to represent a wide range of human qualities, like greed, hate, love & compassion, and their impact on Venezuelan and worldwide corruption & division, the strengths of friendship, family, collaboration, rebellion and survival.
“Bichos” is not only a superb introduction to Raúl Monsalve, but also to a swathe of incredible musicians you might still be unfamiliar with. It’s also a brilliant window into the rich musical seam of Venezuelan music, and an excellent look at how it might interconnect with wider musical parallels.
released October 16, 2020
Music composed by Raúl Monsalve except Palo de Agua by Daniel Núñez
Recorded by Malcolm Catto at Quatermass Sound Lab (London) and Benjamin Leherissey at Studio Blinc (Aubervilliers)
Additional recordings at Cannalatino Studios (Denver), Pararrayos Studios (Caracas) and Red Castle Studio (Paris)
Mixed by Malcolm Catto at Quatermass Sound Lab. Except A2, A3 and A5, by Fidel Goa at CCS Mix & Mastering
Mastered and lacquer cut by Frank Merritt at The Carvery
Illustration by Gustavo Dao
Graphic design by Abraham Araujo / Bestialo Culapsus A+E
All compositions have enormous contributions from Juanma Trujillo, Daniel Núñez, Edgar Bonilla, Marysol Gomez, Andrés Sequera, Luzmira Zerpa and Jesús Rondón
Raúl Monsalve: bass, guitar, FX, moog minitaur, micro-korg, quitiplás, culo e’ puya, vocals
Edgar Bonilla: korg ms-20, FX, electric pianos, electric marimba, farfisa, FX
Dave de Rose: drums
Daniel Núñez: guitar
Nando Guerrero: flute
Julien Matrot: trumpet
Andrés Vela: sax tenor, percussion
Christine Roch: baritone sax
Ernesto Marichales: cumaco, mina, quitiplás, timbal
Baldomero Verdú: clarín, culo e’ puya, mina, quitiplás
Joel Arriaga: cumaco, culo e' puya, mina, quitiplás
Yves Prud’homme: congas, bongo
Afla Sackey: maracas
Norman Miranda, Marcos Espinoza, Manuel Lara: cumacos, clarín, shekere (palo de agua)
Mónica López, Rafael Mejías: chorus singers
Luzmira Zerpa: vocals (‘Bocón’), maracas
Betsayda Machado: vocals (‘Mosquito’)
Lya Bonilla: vocals (‘La Mariposa’), chorus singer
Jesús Rondón & Vasallos del Sol: vocals, percussion (‘Malembe’)