“There was this series I really liked called ‘The Singing Detective’’”, says Salvador Rey, a.k.a. Mister Furia, the musical counterpart to Professor Manso, a.k.a. Alex Llovet. Together, the duo from Barcelona, Catalonia formed The Pinker Tones in 2001, taking their name as a homage to that BBC series by using a tongue-in-cheek reference to “Pinkerton,” the famous detective agency founded in the mid 19th century. They then chose their individual names, “fury” and “meek” in Spanish, explains Rey, to indicate that they were complementary elements.

Much like their choice of names, their music blends wildly disparate styles and sensibilities. With Mister Furia on keyboards, samples and drums and Professor Manso on guitar, keyboards, flute, they touch on funk, soul, bossa, lounge and psychedelia adding their own vocals with lyrics in Spanish, French, English, and German. The result is an eclectic mix of upbeat, retro pop sounds that are firmly stabilized by super-danceable rhythms.

Their sonic landscape emerged in the context of the rich and fertile Barcelona arts scene and in 2006, they happily brought it to the U.S. as part of the Latin Alternative Music Conference followed by a series of SXSW showcases the next year. Their success opened the door for many more artists from Barcelona to travel here, and Rey comments that they are proud to have been the some of the first to introduce the U.S. to an arts scene where multidisciplinary projects are much more the norm than the exception.

In fact, The Pinker Tones have often collaborated with Barcelona artists such as visual artist Conrad Roset and designer Custo, and the cover for their recently-released, latest and fifth studio CD Life in Stereo was created by graphic design studio Lo Siento. The album was also recorded in a specially designed portable studio made of recycled wood. “Life in Stereo” is labelled as a soundtrack for a script written by Llovet and Rey about an adventure of Professor Manso and Mister Furia’s in Los Angeles. The movie doesn’t exist. At least, not yet.

It’s just a part of experiencing fully every aspect of the arts, says Rey: “We are very curious individuals, cultural devourers of art, music, literature.” And they love sharing this vision with the world:  “We have handfuls of fans but everywhere, all around the world! It’s much better to have less fans in lots of places, instead of a lot of fans in just one place. And we want to continue making music as long as it makes sense to the people that are listening.”

The Pinker Tones play at the Empty Bottle on May 22. Free with RSVP to rsvp@emptybottle.com.

Check Catalina’s blog and the archives of Beat Latino  (like Beat Latino on FB  too!) to explore the roots as well as trends in Latin musical arts.

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