Colombian DJ duo Monareta released their new album Picotero recently and I couldn’t have been more excited. Picotero is the first full length release from the Nacional artists. Their sound is unlike any other, but comparisons can made to groups like Nortec Collective and Mexican Institute of Sound. All fall in the same category of Electronic- Latin Alternative. Monareta is electronic, Latin, funky and original. Picotero exudes all those elements. I can’t think of a noise or sound they didn’t incorporate. While almost all the tracks are brilliant and funky, I liked some better than others.
“Matanza Funk,” is a great song to get you going and start your day in the morning. Throughout the song, the talking you hear (in English) is someone walking you through their monotonous daily routine of going to work. Sometime during the day at work, this person finds a radio and then all of a sudden the song becomes a rap track. Later that same voice re-tells his day to you in a nutshell to conclude “Mantanza Funk.” If only an ordinary day was so funky.
“Domingo Loving Style” isn’t one of the best songs on Picotero, but I like it because of its comical nature. Mixed in with the cumbia and electronic mambo sound is a woman, most likely of Anglo descent, speaking chopped up second semester level Spanish. Despite her accent hurting my ears, it works. I laugh when I hear her say “Monareta cha cha cha.” Later in the song she says “Entusiasmo Entusiasmo,” an expression that means enthusiastic or that is meant to show enthusiasm. Again, not Picotero’s best song, but certainly worth a listen.
Picotero’s best track, “Llama,” should be your first introduction to Monareta if you have never heard of them before. “Llama” covers all bases Monareta is known for: thick bass lines, danceable beats, Latin horns, keyboards, creative DJ sound effects and very little vocals. You only hear a few expressions such as “a bailar” or “Que dice” a couple of times. Did I mention it is very easy to dance to?
My only criticism of Monareta is at times they get too creative by trying to do so much that the music is no longer danceable. You have to remember that musicians this creative and this musically gifted forget they are not the average listener or club goer. What sounds good to them in the end is not comprehensible by the general public. However, it is only on a couple of songs that this is the case. Overall Picotero is a brilliant and funky album. Latin Alternative and dance music fans alike will dig Monareta.
The BMX DJ duo is no stranger to Austin. I caught them hanging around after SXSW last year at the Gogol Bordello concert on St Patrick’s Day. They were walking around with bicycle helmets with wheels spinning on top of them. That alone should have tipped me off that these guys were different. Monareta is returning to Austin for SXSW again this year. Be on the lookout for them, as their show is not one you want to miss.