Review: Supreme Cape-Verdean funk from the 70s, two of Abel Lima's most distinctive cuts are re-energised by Sofrito. "Corre Riba Corre Baxo" translates to what comes up must come down... But there's no come down here; pure positivity oozes from every highlife guitar strum and the overwhelming presence of the walking bassline. "Nos Maos" is a tad more subdued as the French and Portuguese lyrics pin down a tight, horn-led Caribbean groove. Act fast: as with all Super Singles, this one is super-limited!
Review: Swiss fusionists with previous on Highlife and INI Movement, Alma Negra make the logical leap to Sofrito with three rich tribal workouts: "Mageko" squares our focus on a deep cry that punctures the snake-like percussion with a yearning soulful urgency. "Tabanka" adds more dancefloor appear with a off-beat arrangement that you could imagine eclectic acts such as Optimo utilising really creatively. Finally we hit "Ramboia", a track where Doc Martin-style pads breeze through a small African village, shrouding the percussion and chants with a great sense of mysticism. Rich.
Review: You can rely on the Sofrito label to unearth the most daring of dance music from the most obscure corners of the earth. This latest instalment lands on Madagascar's shores, a stunning landscape with relatively little known about its music from the typical Westerner; as usual, though, we are pleasantly surprised by what we discover on this totally killer two-tracker. The sound is called Salegy, a style originating from the island's North-Western quarters, and that evokes fast 6/8 rhythms accompanied by steely percussion folds and tribalistic chanting: "Mavandeza" is a deep and mystical song performed by the Vetson Androy outfit, who were famous proponents of the sound at the height of its popularity in 1978. The B-side is from tenders later, and Joajoby's "Tarantasy Maitso" is another glorious slice of vocal-led percussion in the island's loose and spiritual style. Unmissable.
Review: Auntie Flo's Huntleys & Palmers residency in London has helped the artist to both mature his sound as a producer, and get his name across to a vast house audience looking for good vibes. And it's with these sorts of release that they've found it. The man is back but this time for the incorrigible Sofrito, who are branching out with this new Super Singles subsidiary imprint, mashing up contemporary dance with something veritably tropical. "The Soniferous Garden" is an excellent warm-up tune, or the sort of groove you stick on to send your audience left of field, thanks to its slow, chuggy groove, gorgeous instrumentation, and subtle Afro lyricism. "Rainfall On Red Earth" travels at a similar tempo, except that here the mood has grown more pensive, and Auntie Flo offers another stunning piece of music that is perfect for both dancing or straight-up vibing.
Review: Destination Martinique: Sofrito's Island Series gets lively to the sound of Michel Bagoe and the brilliantly named Les Hamsters. The former lays down a sublime carnival soundtrack with relentless drums and a highlife feel to the guitars while the latter develop the street party feel with rippling drums and tightly plucked guitars. Guaranteed to whisk your dance to another world, just like the rest of the Sofrito discography!
Review: The ever-mutating twists and turns in Bolangassa's musical history continues. From his early '80s involvement in Congolese National Ballet in Paris to the roles (and instruments) he's played on various afro disco records to this new chapter. A wholly tribal affair that takes right back to his Congolese roots. Concentrated percussion where the drums sing for themselves, each of these three cuts are Shamanic in their arrangement, drive and insistency. "Disna Ngai" is the most tribal and ceremonial of the three as many hands make the rhythm work, "Rikikida" is a much slower, more rounded dynamic while "La Vie" is the peak of physical coercion as the pounding staccato hypnotises with a loopy vibrancy that most techno producers would dream of. Eye opening.
Claudette & Ti Pierre - "Zanmi Camarade" (Tropical Treats edit)
Ti Marcel - "Nan Point La Vie" (Siwo version)
Ibo Combo - "Mateau"
Les Lups Noirs - "Pile Ou Face"
Review: Killer new Sofrito 12" with hypnotic Carnival rhythms, DIY electro and vital Compas experiments from the Haitian archives! Lead in the way is a subtle edit of "Zanmi Camarade" from Claudette & Ti Pierre by Stockholm's Tropical Treats crew, this 1979 cover version of the folk song that is quite bewildering, with haunting vocals weaving a spell over a heavy polyrhythmic drum machine groove and arpeggiated synth backing. Just as impressive is the Siwo update of Ti Marcel's rugged, hypnotic Rara track "Nan Point La Vie" is dominated by the single-note 'Vaksin' bamboo flute, which Sofrito call "nature's sub-bass". Holding it down on the B Side is some untreated material, with an Ibo Combo cover of Coupe Cloue's evergreen "Mateau" complemented by a "Pile ou Face" from Les Loups Noirs which was a highlight of the Strut compilation Haiti Direct.
Review: Ace London tropical disco crew Sofrito return with another crucial twelve that introduces both us and you to the lesser spotted Nigerian Acid Boogie! The epitome of hen's teeth rarity, Benis Cletin's "Jungle Magic" was originally out on Afrodisia in 1979, and still sounds absolutely amazing today. A tough bassline combines effortlessly with a thumping groove that sits between Lagos and Detroit, whilst a brilliantly crazy acid synth lead lends the track a truly psychedelic edge. Add to this the vocal elements that channel the spirits of Donna Summer and Lee Perry and you cannot help but dance. The flip is just as good, "Money Makes Man Mad" launching straight into an infectious uptempo groove of percussion, funked out guitar licks and cowbell. The playful rhythmic interchange between the organ flourishes and storms of gut punching percussion lay will have explosive results. Highly recommended!
Review: Destination Guadeloupe: Sofrito Super Singles' second "Percussion Series" EP takes us deep into the legendary work of Erick Cosaque a man who began as a singer but has become progressively more experimental ever since. His work in the late 80s and 90s is especially inspiring as he combined dense layers of African percussion with subtle drum machines and folk singing. The result is a hypnotic weave of ageless elements drawn with honesty, clarity and rhythmic allure - especially in these crystal clear remastered forms.
Review: The Sofrito Super Singles series is on the cusp of double figures and this offering from collective main man Frankie Francis and the excellent Simbad might just be their best work so far. As ever with Sofrito, there's a sense of music education that comes with this record as the label shines the light on Gwo Ka - the folkloric rhythm of Guadeloupe - and one of its greatest voices in Esnard Boisdur. The focus here is Bosidur's 1991 track "Soufwans" (which translates as Sufferance for those not au fait with Guadeloupian) which in the hands of Francis and Simbad is flipped into a hypnotic house production replete with deep bassline and some killer synths. The accompanying dub mix will probably appeal to the deeper house selectors too as there's some killer drum programming on that one.
Review: They say great things come in pairs, and this is certainly true for these two new Sofrito bombs. However, unlike its companion, SSS016 is more of a boogie monster, and Gordon Henderson's "The Highest Bidder" is a tune that is just so easily hummed thanks to its inimitable vocal, while "Hard World" is more of a stone-cold floor-filler with its fast-paced groove and gritty electronic feel. Both unmissable, both total killers. No surprises here - Sofrito doing what the label does best.
Bulimundo - "Santo Antoni La Belem" (Hide & Smile edit)
Kings - "Minino Na Tchora"
Review: A brand new island series from Afrofunk specialists Sofrito, here we're zapped back to the early 80s where Cape Verde's musical community hit a rich vein of form. Alma Negra's edit of "Corpim Sabe" features an extended rhythm section where close attention paid to the wistful guitars. Hide & Smile's edit of Bulimundo's "Santo Antoni La Belem", meanwhile, accentuates the island's culture of insistent Batuque percussion. Finally we're seduced by an untouched original from Os Kings where stunning guitars shimmer atop a slinky bassline with hypnotic effect. Highly limited, grab this while you can.... And start counting down the days until the next installment of Sofrito's new series.
Review: No 12 in the Sofrito Super Singles 12" series offers up a double shot of vital Soukous / Coupe Decale hybrids out of Abidjan & Paris that will light up any self-respecting dancefloor like a stack of dynamite. First up is the mysterious Bazare D. Pablo, whose 1975 production "Nassima" dices together elements of Soukous and Highlife with brisk percussion and a solid bassline underpinning some delightful vocals. Complementing this, Sofrito throw in "Africa" from Atalaku 8, a Paris-based Ivoirian/Congolese group operating out of the legendary Kos studio whose Coupe Decale sounds would fit right into a House set for the more adventurous DJs out there. The Siwo Dub is superb too!
Swinging Stars Of Dominica - "Las Mal Parle" (3:17)
Swingin' Stars Orchestra - "Jam Jam" (4:10)
Review: The Sofrito label rarely, if ever, get is wrong, doesn't it? Once again, the London label bursts through the dance with two utterly steaming Haitian destroyers from Dominica's no.1, and these two cuts are bound to satisfy just about anyone into GOOD music. "Las Mal Parle" is a swinging, instantly hummable rhythm that you can safely leave on repeat for hours at a time, while "Jam Jam" is more of a Latino groove for the big ball dance - another stunner and a perfect companion to the beast that is the A-side. Another solid, timeless record from Sofrito.
Review: Repress of the debut Sofrito Super Singles which celebrates the Afro-disco and boogie scene of South Africa, - where Salsoul meets Soweto. Comes housed in a new look Sofrito house sleeve. The three track EP features Teaspoon & The Waves - led by veteran alto player Teaspoon Ndelu. They released one album in 1980, covering a mix of disco and funk sounds for the SA dancefloors. Oh yeh Soweto is a cheeky version of Lamont Dozier's Going Back To My Roots - changing the lyrics and toughening up the beats, but with the same killer riffs. Saturday Night Special is from the same LP, a spaced out Afro Disco groove with excellent percussion and psychedelic synths, re-edited by the Sofrito team. The B side features a track by the Nzimande Allstars - another mysterious group of session musicians. The drawn out groove of Highway Sporo Disco fuses a heavy disco backing with jive guitar and stellar horns and organ for a unique taste of the underground sound of the Cape.