The Blues of Bogotá is on the rise in our latitudes? Sounds a bit crazy, and it is. Direct from the Colombian capital penetrates – amongst all the salsa, rock and electronic sounds – a raspy voice, that causes the ground to tremble. Daniel Restrepo causes with his combo fatsO a leverage of Latin clichés, and offsets the Andes to the middle of the southern continent. Celebrated in their home country, the exciting septet is preparing to make their leap to Europe.
Amongst the few true trends that the world music scene has brought forth in recent years, is the topic of Colombia piercing through lively and turbulent. In a topographically rich country, with the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, the Andean mountains and tropical jungle, is an equally multi-faceted music scene: Salsa, Cumbia, Latin Rock, Afro-Caribbean roots, the hip electro-trend – the wealth seems inexhaustible. Colombia hides amongst this richness completely unexpected sounds, which, when first listening to them seem to have nothing to do with South America. One of these surprising treasures is Daniel Restrepo from Bogotá: a singer/songwriter and bass player who so convincingly steps into the scene with Blues, Jazz and Soul, one might think he absorbed them in his mother’s milk. A guy, who with his scratchy, inspirational voice can bring the audience to throb in rows, and we aren’t just referring to the female part of his audience.
Daniel Restrepo has titled his band project fatsO – the affectionate name derives from the fattest “band member”, his double bass. Daniel is bound by a lot of passion to the deep sounder. He found it while travelling in Havana, Cuba. Yet, when he had it shipped home it arrived broken into three separate pieces. With dedication, sensitivity and months of work, Daniel repaired his wooden pal. He then went into seclusion in an apartment in the district of La Macarena, and wrote songs and arrangements with the help of the restored fatsO.
The fact that they drew their inspiration from Colombian vices as well as from overseas, of course, has its reason. Considering that Daniel Restrepo is a jack of all trades: first of all he spent many of his formative years in the United States. He then molted in Colombia into a much talked about sheet in the music business. After his composition degree at the University of Javeriana, he founded the label REEF Records, which dedicated itself to the preservation of intangible cultural heritage of Colombia. He also helped the publishing company ¡BULLA! along the way, which specializes in independent bands. As a musician Restrepo himself played a role in the bands Tekeyé, Asdubal and Seis Peatones.
Until he found his ultimate calling with fatsO, thanks to his fat companion. After the emergence of the songs Daniel gathered six colleagues around him, who are among the leading musicians from the capital city scene, all belonging to very different worlds of sound. There is the clarinetist and saxophonist Daniel Linero, who already blew with the cult band La Mojara Elétrica, his instrumental colleague Cesar Caicedo has however a classical background and has earned numerous awards in his field. The fat fatsO horn section is completed with the saxophonists Pablo Beltrán and Elkin Hernández, whose playing is nourished from the Afro-Pacific tradition. Guitarist Santiago Jiménez has played the stages from New York to Tokyo, coming from a classical training he veered electrified into Salsa and Cumbian realms. Drummer Cesar Morales grew up swimming the seas of all styles.
After six months of polishing, the debut album was a hit amongst the Colombians when Restrepo and his men presented it at the Bogotá Jazz in the Park festival. The nine songs in English plus a Spanish interlude on the debut album encloses rattling Blues, old Jazz and hard-edge Rock, bringing up for split seconds memories of Tom Waits, Joe Cocker or Leonard Cohen – and yet it was all filtered through the pulsing climate of the Andean metropolis.
In “Out Of Control” a leaden rebellious Blues Rock breaks through the fence, with “Hello” one is given a merry, cross beat, approachable serenade. “Brain Candy” evokes with uncanny chromaticism the sultry atmosphere of a South American hole in the wall, and “Pimp” leads with rumbling drums even deeper into the musical den of iniquity, somewhere between archaic Swing Explosion and Proto-Rap. In the melancholy of “Crying Out”, one genuinely worries about the vocal chords of Restrepo’s desperately bellowing voice, while a clarinet, one of the national instruments of Colombia, exultingly fights its way to the forefront. All the while in “It’s Getting Bad”, the ballad of a couple drunk on love, the electric guitar has its moment of glory. With “Oye Pelao” the combo finally appoaches in the mother tongue the unmistakably traditional Cumbia and Vallenato colorations. And on the foundation of all these hymns of outlaws, outcasts or possessed is “fatsO”, Restrepo’s inseperable companion with his boastful, bone dry grooves.
The raspy bassist and his wild six want to take Europe by storm. With their raw Energy emerging from the midst of a cauldron of 8 million, it should be no problem. The first indications of this were at their concert at the trade fair Jazzahead in Bremen last spring, where the Latinos were celebrated with standing ovations.
Official Website: www.fatso.com.co