Around a month ago Diggers` Digest gave us the absolutely essential “Digital Zandoli” (1), a collection of Zouk from the French Caribbean of Guadeloupe. `80s productions bolstered by the use of 808s, 909s and synths. Now, for the second instalment in their “Percussions Series,” Sofrito have a four track E.P. that focuses on a more traditional Guadeloupean music, Gwo-Ka, but plunders a similar time-frame, again for tracks toughened by machine. Zouk is song. Carried by significant rhythm yes, but accompanied by melody, keys, horns and guitar. Gwo-Ka is the drum. Nothing but the drum, save a call-and-response. Shouts of encouragement from the players.
While contemporary machine-less Gwo-Ka has been documented by the Tradisyon Ka collective (on an album released by Soul Jazz in 2014)(2), Sofrito have accessed the archives of Erick Cosaque, and his group Les Voltage 8. Erick`s career encompassing five decades, and more than 20 albums, recorded largely for his own own Pawo’ka label. The pieces here dating from between 1988 and 1993. Think the skill and joy of Tumblack (3), or Algerian master percussionist, Guem (4). Their Trance Dance with a kick.