Reggae, punk, jungle group Fosforo adhere to own style

Daily Sundial

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If there was ever a time that an eclectic band would make it into the mainstream of popular music, Fosforo, a punk, reggae and jungle conglomeration, has the best chance to do it.

The group reunited three years ago after about nine years of separation. Despite school and work commitments, these four talented members have come together to produce a sound worthy of not only praise, but also undivided attention, the latter being the most important element to any band.

On a Sunday afternoon at the Second Annual Echo Park Festival with numerous bands playing before them, Fosforo, which is Spanish for Matchstick, appeared to be the only band that managed to pull in a visible crowd that was either standing in awe or swaying complacently to their beat.

The band was highly energized and enthusiastic. Rafi Benjamin, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist, kept the crowd hypnotized and immobile with his passionate guitar playing and singing, and by communicating with the crowd between songs he maintained their interest and attention.

During a 30 minute set, they played four songs. Agave Ocotillo, which means native plants in Spanish, was an infusion of reggae and jungle with lyrics in Spanish and English. With the instrumental solos, this first song really pulled the crowd together.

The song Amapola, which is Spanish for the flower that heroin is derived from, is about everything a person will do to get a girl or a drug. The lyrics were in Spanish and they implemented the use of Indian sounds along with their reggae and jungle style.

After Benjamin confessed to his protest against the Iraq war, the band covered War by Bob Marley. While leaving the basic elements of the song alone, they tweaked the instruments to have an essence that was more familiar to their own style.

Benjamin really conveyed his unique talents in the last song, when he wrote the lyrics for Give Thanks in Hebrew. The crowd seemed mesmerized by not only the lyrics but the calm reggae flow that supported the song.

Fosforo is a definite crowd pleaser yet undoubtedly has their personal creative style of music and inspiration. Unlike most popular mainstream music, which may sometimes lose creativity for the form that sells the most albums, Fosforo is a genre all to itself that can keep a crowd in tune.

By not adhering to just one language, one style of music, or a certain theme, they cover a lot of musical boundaries while maintaining their unique sound.

Fosforo has a tentative date to play on CSUN’s campus through SPACE in October.

After three years of dedication to perfecting the elements of Fosforo, the band will be ready to release their first album in November. They will also have their first tour in January in the southwest.

Three of the members of Fosforo met while attending Van Nuys High School. They had started a Red-Hot-Chili-Pepper like sounding band, but when it was time for college, they split up. Benjamin went to Harvard to study Chinese literature and later teach English in China.

Cesar Ventura, drummer and vocals, enrolled in UCLA for his undergraduate studies to later become a 3rd grade teacher for Los Angeles School District.

Edwin Moses, the bassist, synthesizer bassist and vocals, moved east with Benjamin and attended Boston University.

Moses went on to be a government contractor for FEMA.

When Benjamin and Moses came back to the San Fernando Valley, they reunited with Ventura to create Fosforo, which also included Benjamin’s younger brother, Gabriel Zeke, on the keyboard, synthesizer, and vocals.

While each member of the band has an important job in society separate from one another, the success of the band will play equal importance to benefiting society, said Moses.

This is a band whose music is worth listening to. Their website is fosforo.net. They can also be found at myspace.com/fosforo, where three of their songs are available on audio.

Michael Sullivan can be reached at michael.sullivan.843@csun.edu.