By Ben Parrish
Bonifrate is Pedro Franke, the Brazilian artist best known for his work in tropical psychedelic outfit Supercordas, and as one half of the the duo Guaxe. As a solo artist he’s blazed his own trail since 2011, with a series of critically-acclaimed releases including Museu de Arte Moderna (2013) and Mundo Encoberto (2019). Now, after our global COVID pause — which hit Brazil particularly hard — Bonifrate returns with Corsico, a brand new album that tackles old philosophical questions — with a particular, post-pandemic existential urgency.
Recorded in Franke’s home studio, the album’s first single, “Rei Lagarto” (Lizard King) was born out of lonely sound experiments in the rural area of Paraty; a coastal town in the state of Rio de Janeiro, where Franke grew up, and where he returned to live in 2012.
“I stumbled upon this song a few years ago,” Franke says, “when I was messing around with the Casio MT400v, trying beats and basses through a delay pedal and looping it and adding that heavy guitar riff.
“I went out for a walk and there was a huge lizard crawling around the house. They are usual visitors where I live, but suddenly that old feeling struck me: ‘What does it all mean? Why are we all living and dying on this weird planet?’ The lyrics went on from there. I had this sense of feeling lost, seen from a philosophical distance but not without melancholy, and it somehow fit our current state of uncertainty in the world. Enough to make it the first single.”
The video for “Rei Lagarto” was also filmed and edited by Franke, using footage from a visit to Rio’s aquarium with his family, blended with layers of textures and lo-fi visual effects. The video debuted with Popload.
‘Rei Lagarto’ was mixed by Diogo Valentino in São Paulo, along with the other tracks on Bonifrate’s upcoming album, Corsico, which will be released on Overseas Artists Recordings on July 9th, 2021.
Bonifrate is the musical moniker of Pedro Franke, born in Rio de Janeiro and grown up in Paraty, a small coastal town where he began his adventures in sound after acquiring an old 4-track machine. His first EP, the lo-fi Sapos Alquímicos na Era Espacial, was recorded in 2002. The following year in Rio, Pedro formed the psychedelic band Supercordas (2003-2016), while still recording and performing as Bonifrate. The first full length Os Anões da Villa do Magma came out in 2007 through legendary underground São Paulo label Open Field/Peligro.
The 2011 album Um Futuro Inteiro had a warm reception from press and audience, and had Pedro playing even more gigs as a solo artist than with the band. He moved back to Paraty in 2012 to start working as a historian in a public museum.
Since then, he’s released the albums Museu de Arte Moderna (2013) and Mundo Encoberto (2019), and the EPs Toca do Cosmos (2014) and Lady Remédios (2017), all recorded and mixed at home by himself.
More recently, Bonifrate formed the duo Guaxe with Dinho Almeida (Boogarins). Their first LP came out in 2019 through OAR, and garnered critical praise in North America from Stereogum, Bandcamp Daily, Brooklyn Vegan and more.