Argentinian electronic-rock hybrid Altocamet has been a successful band in Argentina and South America for over twenty years. On their first U.S. tour and their first ever performances in Miami, the members of Altocamet see themselves as ambassadors for the sound of the seaside town from which they hail.
The band originated in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1995. Its name is derived from a neighborhood in their beloved hometown.
Altocamet’s six albums run the gamut from 1998’s trip-hop- and drum-and-bass-inspired Velada Bristol Casino to their latest release, 2014’s Más Allá, a synth-driven dream-pop record. Songs like the standout track “Somos Tornado” begin with hushed, airy harmonies backed by sparse keyboard taps rooted in a driven dance bassline, descending into a gorgeous haze of gleaming guitars. “Tensión Eléctrica,” sung by keyboardist and occasional lead vocalist Mariana Monjeau, slants toward bubbly synth sounds that wouldn't have seemed out of place next to the Buggles on MTV in 1981.
Since its inception, Altocamet has tested the limits of what’s expected of a band and blurred boundaries between genres. “Basically, we try to do new things with every album,” says drummer Pedro Moscuzza. "The influences are a lot of bands from the '80s, especially the Cure, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, Siouxsie and the Banshees.”
Altocamet’s absorption of rock and electronic influences has shaped its ability to blend the two oft-opposing musical worlds. As lead writer and vocalist Adrián “Canu” Valenzuela puts it, the group's music sounds like that of a rock band composing through the filter of an electronic band.
“The recording process is almost simultaneous with the composition process,” Valenzuela explains. “We don't go into the studio with completed songs. We build them in the studio as we go along. The composition process is open, and everyone participates and offers their opinions. Many traditional bands rehearse their songs and then record them. We record them first, and then we play them. It's a concept a bit like electronic music when it comes to composition, though we're a rock band. In this latest era of the band, we're much more ‘rockers,’ but we still have that form and structure of electronic music to compose our songs.”
After twenty years of success in South America, Altocamet is ready to conquer their neighbors to the north. “It’s our first time in the U.S.,” says Moscuzza, “but of course we did other tours in Latin America. We've been to Peru many times; Chile, Colombia, Uruguay — but in North America it's our first time.”
The band's current tour includes a second visit to Mexico and stops in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, along with two shows in Miami — the first Friday night at Kill Your Idol, and the second the following night at the Bar at 1306.
“For us it's a dream playing here, and everything that’s going on right now with the band is amazing,” Moscuzza says. “We're definitely thinking of coming back as soon as possible. As soon as we finish this tour, we are trying to [plan] a new [tour] next year for the new album.”
While the tour marks the first time Altocamet has performed in Miami as a band, its members are familiar with the Magic City, having mixed some of their records here. Moscuzza also backed the late legend Gustavo Cerati of Soda Stereo on drums on tour here, including a performance at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards Latinoamérica at the Jackie Gleason Theater.
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Encouraged by the positive response from U.S. audiences familiar with their work as well as those who only recently became fans, Altocamet continues to follow the momentum of two decades’ worth of albums and tours, celebrating accomplishments while aspiring toward a new set of goals.
“Step by step, we have a lot of dreams to realize. We go slowly, but we're finally making it.”
Altocamet. 9 p.m. Friday, July 22, at Kill Your Idol, 222 Espanola Way, Miami Beach; 305-672-1852; killyouridol.com. Admission is free.
Altocamet with Millionyoung, Jean Jacket, and more. 8 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at 1306, 1306 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-377-2277; 1306miami.com. Admission is free.