Sofrito? Its a beautiful thing. Sofrito can only be described as a record label that consistently gets it right, at every level. Sofrito are a collective that find, edit and release what’s now known as ‘tropical’, which can mean anything from Nigeria to Haiti, from Cumbia to raw Gwo Ka rhythms.
Having spent many years searching for International musical obscurities of wonder and delight, I’m always impressed to find a label that consistently curates great music. Obviously there’s lots of great music out there, finding new material is one thing, finding exceptional new material is another. The guys at Sofrito in their short history, approximately twenty releases in, have consistently released stellar tracks.
I recently found myself in a record shop in the Little Haiti district of Miami. Whilst talking to the shop owner and getting a recommendation on some excellent local soul compilations, I found myself recommending Sofrito label, which appeared to be absent in most of the record shops I visited in the US. Rather ironically and a great example of how global music distribution has become, I was recommending a London based label in Little Haiti who’s latest release is ‘Haiti Direct EP’, not very direct as it happens.
I then moved on to another record shop just up the road whose owner was clearly insane, but that’s another story….
The core of the label is Paris based Hugo Mendez, a well travelled DJ responsible for compiling compilations for labels such as Strut, Soundway and Jazzman and Frankie Francis, a Hackney based DJ and producer, who also runs the Carvery dubplate and mastering house.
The label have had consistently great artwork that very much has its own sense of identity thanks to illustrator and designer Lewis Heriz. http://www.lewisheriz.com Being a graphic designer of a completely different style, I think this guy is a real talent. This kind of perfect combination of skills for a small specialist record label, is very rare.
The majority of their release are on vinyl. Considering that a fair few of these reissues were probably dusty records from the back of shop somewhere in the Caribbean, the excellent mastering and bright vinyl cuts make them relevant for any club DJ. With regards to edits, there is a lightness of touch with their approach, which preserves the integrity of the original sound.
A highlight from the label, my personal favourite, which is such a unique record. First time I heard it I thought I’d never find anything quite like this again, so far I’ve been right: