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Guest Playlist: Raúl Monsalve (Insólito Universo)


Colectivo Futuro have been plugging music and culture from across the globe and inspiring us as much as anyone in their approach to cross-cultural collaboration. You only have to go on the ‘digs’ section of their site to find interviews with record shops in Sao Paolo (Goma Gringa) to Radical Geometry and Modern Art in South America.

Having recently launched their label, Olindo Records, with debut release featuring the heavy jazz-funk of Monsalve y Los Forajidos, Colectivo Futuro are taking over Camden’s Jazz Cafe on 23rd August with a special showcase, Música Infinita: New Venezuelan Music. The event will shine a light on ‘Venezuelan music for the 21st century’, curating the point at which traditional meets the contemporary. They’ve picked two outfits that are doing just that - souping up the musical traditions of the South American nation for contemporary audiences.

Opening proceedings will be Paris-based Insólito Universo, the act behind Olindo’s upcoming release, whose psych-chanson-jazz combines traditional Venezuelan rhythms and instrumentation with contemporary electronics. Listen to the uplifting Pajaro above. Second up are Telajeta, who ‘rearrange and jazzify’, traditional Venezuelan folk into warm, late night ballads. ‘Sabana’ is especially soothing…

To get us warmed up, Raúl Monsalve of Insolito Universo has gifted us with a playlist of influences. Monsalve is bassist for Insolito and also leads Monsalve y Los Forajidos. An eclectic player on the scene, he’s currently playing with Orlando Julius and toured with the Heliocentrics across Europe last year. Raúl’s selected an assortment of tunes, including key artists in the history of Venezuelan music such as Cecilia Todd, the trip-hop fantasies of Portishead, and the pioneering electro-acoustics of Delia Derbyshire. A playlist packed full of sweet discoveries.


Aldemaro created a new style, called Onda Nueva, that made an indelible mark in Venezuelan music. Using bossa nova as a base, he made it his own by mixing it with more traditional Venezuelan styles such as Joropo. We're heavily inspired by his contribution to Venezuelan music and particularly by his drummer, Frank "El Pavo" Hernandez, who is basically a demi-god to us, having also contributed heavily to the local salsa scene in the 60s, 70s, and beyond. The arrangements on this track also remind us of Ennio Morricone's music.


Sonically this connects quite nicely to our previous selection. We love most of his output, specially that of the 60s, and his taste for harmonies and psychedelic guitars. Aside from this particular tune, Morricone is such an inspiration as an individual due to his incredibly varied and eclectic repertoire; he's worked loads with free improv, electronic experimentation, large orchestras, rock, psychedelia – he is basically unclassifiable.


I was introduced to Josephine Foster's music by our vocalist, Mafe, which is not surprising as they both have a similar background as lyrical singers who then moved towards folk music. Josephine's lyrics are also very poetic, similar to what Mafe does for Insólito UNIVerso. But we also dig the music behind it.


Another big influence on our singer and one that we were all familiar with growing up in Venezuela. The sort of thing you only start to appreciate when you look back and revisit it at an older age. She's been one of the main exponents of our country's music since the 70s until today and she has dedicated her life to researching the various styles and genres within it, which is one of our goals as a band.


To us they are one of the most advanced bands in Venezuela to this day. Their style is closer to Joropo Tuyero, which is more rhythmic and minimalistic than Joropo Llanero. One of they reasons they sound so different to other bands in the same genre is that they replaced the harp with crazy synthesizers, which gives their music a very psychedelic feel. They also replaced maracas with drums and their rhythm section formed by the Blanco brothers is one of the strongest ever in Venezuela in my opinion. Their music has similar principles to that of Aldemaro Romero, but the end result is more rootsy and direct.

Stereolab - Banana Monster Ne Répond Plus

Laetitia Sadier is also very significant to us for her style of singing. She immediately came to mind when I first heard Mafe singing. Stereolab's use of farfisa organs and other retro-sounding instruments to come up with dreamlike soundscapes is very much connected with our intentions as a band.


Our connection to Delia Derbyshire's music comes from our search for unique sound textures and electro-acoustic experimentation. We love her playful approach to making music and the way she explored the possibilities of the studio to come up with new sounds.


Here is another unique individual who took the traditional music of his country and made it his own. It only takes about five seconds as a listener to recognise his music. Hermeto and other fellow Brazilians like Os Mutantes or Caetano Veloso are prime examples of the Manifesto Antropófago applied to music, whereby they absorb many influences to create something new. This to us forms the basis of being Latin American and is a main influence for our band.


Portishead have been an inspiration from the moment we started the band. In particular for Edgar, our keyboard player, and myself. We love their use of synths, Beth Gibbons' unmistakeable voice, the way their recordings sound, and their somber aesthetic. It was important for us from the get-go to show that we grew up surrounded not only by Latin and Caribbean sounds, but that we were also listening to The Cure, Bauhaus, and Portishead among others. It's not all partying and guaguancó in Caracas, the city also has a dark and melancholic side.


I have been following Tortoise for close to 20 years now. Their music has been quite significant because of their two bass players, which was something quite striking for me when I first heard them. That's something I always wanted to apply and with Insólito UNIVerso, while there's only one bass player, we try to reach a similar sonic aesthetic by exploring all of the opportunities the electric bass has to offer.

Insólito UniVerso play the Jazz Cafe on 23 August alongside Telajeta as part of Música Infinita: New Venezuelan Music - a celebration 21st Century Venezuelan music, presented by  Colectivo Futuro and Olindo Records.

Tickets and more information here.