Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More Sounds from Sofrito

Posted By on 07.24.12 at 06:09 PM

sofrito-promo-front_st_540.jpg
Just about any DJ worth his or her salt is a crate digger in one way or another. In my mind getting folks to dance is one thing, but getting them curious and excited about something they've never heard before is just as or more important—obviously I'm not talking about the kind of DJing that happens in overpriced nightclubs thick with the odor of Axe. British crew Sofrito seem to be especially good detectives, uncovering all sorts of funky beats. These days DJs spinning international sounds are pretty common, but Sofrito distinguish themselves with a catholic sensibility, drawing connections among musics from Africa, the Caribbean, and South America.

On the Sofrito website you can download a handful of cool, free mixes they've put together, and they've also been assembling collections on CD and LP. I loved Tropical Discotheques, the first anthology they compiled for Strut Records early in 2011. It mixes vintage cumbia, highlife, and soukous (from Sam Mangwana, Gnonnas Pedro, Victor Uwaifo, and many more), but for me the real discoveries are the tracks from the Caribbean, most of which I knew nothing about. Today is the official release date for its follow-up, International Soundclash, which digs even deeper and sounds just as good. I've never heard of any of these 15 artists, but the songs are uniformly excellent—the mix has got me eager to look into just about every act on it. There's Trinidadian calypso from Lord Shorty & Vibrations International, a clomping Guadeloupian mashup of compas and gwo ka from Sartana et Son Groupe Mistral, and a Congolese spin on the Afro-Cuban standard "El Manisero" ("The Peanut Vendor") by Afro Festival, to name just a few.

International Soundclash also includes new tracks that fit seamlessly with the older material, most of which comes from the 70s and early 80s. Owiny Sigoma Band, for example, is a London combo of British and Kenyan musicians mixing dub, traditional Luo sounds, and funk in a fresh way that sounds ancient and modern in equal measure, and Colombian group Grupo Canalon de Timbiqui practices its own variant of the marimba-driven music from the country's Pacific coast.

On Wednesday night the collection will be featured as part of DJ Joe Bryl's Diggin Dusties night at Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar—Bryl will play the album in its entirety beginning at 8 PM, and he promises to give away some copies as well. Admission is free.

Below you can listen to "O Ti Yo" by Midnight Groovers, an example of cadence-lypso (a fusion of a specific strain of Haitian merengue and calypso), a style indigenous to Dominica, a tiny island in the Lesser Antilles with a population just over 71,000.

Today's playlist:

Eliza Carthy, Neptune (Hem Hem)
Joni Mitchell, Clouds (Reprise)
Ingrid Laubrock Sleepthief, The Madness of Crowds (Intakt)
Fennesz, Seven Stars (Touch)
Ben Hall, Ben Hall! (Tompkins Square)

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