Antilles Percussions: Gwo Ka and Bèlè
Ahead of our One Night in Montreuil party during RBMA Festival Paris, Sofrito boss Hugo Mendez digs deep into his records from the Antilles.
Presenting a selection of classic and deep gwo ka, bèlè and jazz tracks from Guadeloupe and Martinique (gwo ka and bèlè are traditional percussion styles from Guadeloupe and Martinique, respectively). Traditionally, gwo ka is just played with two different-sized drums, while bèlè is played with one drum and a ti-bois (length of bamboo). Today’s selection, in anticipation of the Une Nuit à Montreuil event during RBMA Festival Paris, brings together traditional and jazzier experimental tracks from the ’70s through the ’90s. As one of the men behind the Sofrito collective and label, which grew out of the Tropical Warehouse parties of East London, Hugo Mendez has a keen ear for a variety of sounds from all around the world. Nigerian acid boogie, raw gwo ka rhythms, futuristic sounds from new European producers, heavy Latin vibes from the Pacific coast of Colombia — it’s all about tropical rhythms for a modern dancefloor. Born in London but based in Paris, Mendez has traveled widely in search of these sounds, and has produced compilations for labels such as Strut, Soundway, Jazzman and Nascente. His DJ sets and productions reflect this diversity, as do his producing edits with Blackjoy under the name Siwo. Nouvelle Ambiance, his new label project, continues the work of Sofrito, celebrating cross-cultural collaborations via reissue projects and contemporary productions with a geographically diverse group of musicians. The first release, which celebrates the work of Congolese musician Albert Siassia, is due in November 2017.