This weekend, we take a look at one of Argentina’s most influential rock bands, Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricotta, or ‘Los Redondos’ for short. Active between 1976-2001, Los Redondos’ impact lies not only in the enigmatic quality of the band’s music, but in their independent approach to the industry and fans.
Formed in La Plata, Los Redondos’ leading members were Carlos Alberto “Indio” Solari (vocals), Eduardo “Skay” Beilinson (guitar), and Carmen Castro (manager and muse, also known as “The Black Poly”), who had previously played together in the collective La Cofradía de la Flor Solar.
The band’s early days were notable for experimentation, incorporating poetry, theatre, and ballet into their live acts. Their full name, in fact, came from the donuts served with ricotta at the Lozano de La Plata theatre, where Los Redondos held many of their early performances. “Patricio Rey” came to serve as a fictional group consciousness for the band, channelling many of the themes in their music as well as the mystique of the members’ personalities.
Notably, Los Redondos’ understated response to their early success, playing independent theatres in Buenos Aires and eschewing traditional routes of commercial exposure, helped them amass an intensely devoted, cult-like following of “ricoteros”. By the time they released their first EP with RCA in 1982, after a hiatus beginning in 1979, Los Redondos experienced a boom in FM radio play, including singles such as ‘Nene, nena’ and ‘Superlógico’.
Defying prevailing methods of publicity, Los Redondos’ fame stemmed largely from word of mouth, as news of their performances spread among fans rather than the media. Even the band’s first full-length album, 1985’s ‘Gulp’, was financed primarily from a share of the proceeds earned through live performances, frustrating producers looking to market Los Redondos more aggressively.
The band’s sound – dark and driving with intricate guitar and saxophone solos – captures the feverish spirit of the 1980s, from rock excess and new-wave euphoria to the culture of drugs and deep introspection. With lyrics examining everything from global politics to love and sexuality, Indio Solari’s sharp, raspy delivery tackled ideology from a philosophical, often metaphorical viewpoint.
With the release of Los Redondos’ second album, ‘Oktubre’, in 1986, their status in the Argentine rock world became undeniable. Featuring what is perhaps the band’s best-known song, “Jijiji” (listen below), ‘Oktubre’ is a conceptual take on the Russian Revolution of 1917, drawing parallels to the political tension and social strife of the late 20th century.
As Los Redondos soared to popularity, their independent scene gave way to teeming football stadiums and frenzied fans. After the death of a fan at a concert in 1991, Los Redondos wrote a song alluding to the incident, and the alleged role of the police in it, called “Blues in the Artillery”.
As they grew in mass appeal, the band increasingly found themselves the subject of conversations and comparisons that didn’t suit their approach to (or reasons for) making music. Fans and media, polarised between Los Redondos and Soda Stereo (the other premiere rock group in Argentina at the time), insisted on advancing the legend of a bitter rivalry between the bands, musically and commercially.
Ten years after Los Redondos’ break-up in 2001, Indio attempted to dispel this notion, acknowledging the talent of Soda Sterio’s Gustavo Cerati.
“I feel pain and shock about this, more often then people think,” Solari told culture magazine ‘La Garganta Poderosa’ in 2011. “Many people think about this famous rivalry that in my case did not exist, and I suspect it didn’t for [Cerati], either…I think he is one of the best musicians, the most prolific, hardworking, and meticulous in Argentine rock culture. I respect him because I try to do the same with my work.”
Though the band maintained its “word of mouth” marketing approach throughout the 1990s, the size of their following often led to venues exceeding capacity and, in one case, an intervention on behalf of the mayor of Olaverría in 1997.
“These quilombos do nothing but hasten the end of the band,” Solari said prior to another 1997 show in which violence erupted among the crowd.
While some of Los Redondos’ best records came in the 90s (the double album ‘Lobo suelto/Cordero atado’ and 1996’s ‘Luzbelito’), the band began to come apart near the start of the new millennium. Citing both artistic and proprietary differences between Skay and Indio, Los Redondos dissolved in 2001, paving the way for popular solo careers among several members of the band.
Today, Los Redondos remain one of the most widely celebrated and, deservedly so, classic bands in Argentine rock history. Between the powerful, existential pulse of the music and the band’s staunch refusal to be swept up in appearances, Los Redondos are a mainstay in Argentina’s musical culture.
Genre: Argentine Rock
Dates Active: 1976-2001
In their own words: “When you are permanently serving the necessity of opposition, you are dead, because you only react but you don’t create.”
Most famous song: “Jijiji”
Best Lyric: “Life without problems is to kill time, to fool.”
Famous for: Developing alternatives in Argentine rock and musicianship, as well as popularising the genre.
Best to listen to: in potentially epic situations.