Raúl Monsalve, the groove of the future

From Malembe, a preamble built from a recording by Vasallos del Sol, a Venezuelan collective that has been plowing folklore for ages, the stakes are raised. Beating drums, heady incantations, roaring bass are intermingled in a maelstrom which blurs all dating. And Calf, the hectic Afro-Latin jazz-funk trend, traces the same objective: to demonstrate the modernity of the Afro-Venezuelan tradition, an essence that allows us to go beyond, and to dismantle by example the clichés that condemn it to no to be at the museum.

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What Raúl Monsalve sums up with a slogan that echoes the work of the Art Ensemble Of Chicago: «Ancient to the future», adding “And at the same time” Future to the ancient “”. The inversion makes sense for this bassist who had already experimented quite a bit in Caracas, notably with kRé, an ensemble halfway between post-rock and Afro-Latin, while attending the percussionists of the Sarria district where he could touch the sounds of Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Venezuelan. So much baggage that will weigh in the balance when he landed in Paris ten years ago.

A graduate in ethnomusicology, Raùl Monsalve has never ceased to question this tradition that he had the leisure to test live during these back and forth trips in the Afro-Venezuelan region of Barlovento, striking it with the many other sound sources that feed the music. abundant thought of this researcher of sounds coupled with a practitioner without chapel spirit. To be well known to the shelves of record stores, since his arrival in Europe he has continued to expand his area of ​​influence, whether with the Nigerian Orlando Julius, or Maria Fernanda Ruette, with whom he will create the psyche-colored folk quartet Insolito Universo, in a furrow close to Los Forajidos, or alongside the Heliocentrics, starting with the boss Malcolm Catto who ensures the production of this new album. It was with the latter, at the Quatermass Sound Lab, that he laid the foundations: “We both share this obsession with groove between bass and drums. The idea of ​​a lively rhythm, not necessarily perfect, but perfectly organic. Then his advice allowed me to focus in a certain direction and his unorthodox listening was essential during the mix. ” Enough to stay the course between the canons of tradition and the freedom to part with it, in a combination that rings true, as already promised. Volume Two in 2014. If the mix is ​​broad, combining Latin-jazz in the style dear to Eddie Palmieri with afro-funk in the direct line of the Ghanaian founding peers (just as the list is long of the voices invited to share this feast untimely, along the beaches: Luzmira Zerpa, defector of the fabulous group Family Atlantica, the capital Betsayda Machado, or Rafa Pino, a young singer who also delves into folklore), the link to all of these could well be this pleasure of making dance, “A ritual connection” as he likes to say, even when the turneries make you dizzy.


This is not the least tour de force of this third disc, whose unstable alchemical formula constantly manages to keep us both feet on the trance track. Without ever forgetting to invite us to think beyond genuflections, as its title suggests, Animal, or the “bugs” which represent the wide variety of human feelings: hatred, greed, liberation, love, and so on. “Through this word, it is a question of celebrating friendship and solidarity, but also of denouncing all these mediocre people who are in power, in Venezuela as elsewhere. Trump is as much of a bicho as Nicolás Maduro. ”

Jacques Denis

Raùl Monsalve and The Outlaws Animals (Olindo Records).


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