For its seventh offering, Sol Power Sound taps into the pulse of the French Antilles for Tambours de Martinique, a blistering EP of original and remixed versions of rare, drum-centric dance floor workouts. Licensed directly from the legendary Martiniquan label Hibiscus Records, the EP features cuts by Eugène Mona and Max Ransay, two of Martinique’s most storied musicians. With reworks by Spanish DJ and producer Kiko Navarro and the Sol Power All-Stars, this one will be in the record bags of discerning DJs all summer long.
The A side features ‘Lizo’ by Eugène Mona, an essential figure in the folkloric music of Martinique based on the bamboo flute, bèlè drums, and the island’s specific variant of Antillean creole. Lizo was originally released in 1990 on Mona’s Blanc Mangé Blan Manjé? LP and is anchored by frenetic percussion, a driving bassline, and house-evocative key stabs. Mona’s flute kicks off the tune which then jumps right into a call-and response vocal barrage. In the lyrics, Mona warns a local political figure to watch his back because he’s surrounded by an untrustworthy crew. Kiko Navarro’s remix takes an already dynamic cut to deep Afro-space with thumping drums and a bubbling synth-bass groove that will put dancers through their paces.
With its powerful combo of urgent brass and ensemble vocals, Max Ransay’s 1988 recording of the traditional Martiniquan folk song ‘Ti Kanno’ fills the B-side. ‘Ti Kanno’ was previously recorded by Ti Émile, Ransay and Mona’s legendary forebear. Full of surprises, Ransay’s version is a sonic melting pot of hand percussion, horns, unexpected synth lines, and bass. The Sol Power All-Stars edit fills out the low-end thump and teases out the groove for maximum impact.
Q&A’s with Marc Meisnere & Rhome Anderson
1. Best club in the world:
Despite a fair amount of travel and gigging over the years we haven’t seen enough to answer this definitively but partying with the Disko Afrika crew in Bali has to be top 3. Their sonic approach is similar to Sol Power, except we can’t set up booming speaker stacks and a full stage on a beach and rock for eight hours until sunrise with an after hours party consisting of snacks cooked over a bonfire in the sand. So they win.
2. Worst travel story while working:
This is either the best or the worst depending on which of us you ask. A couple of months ago we had a gig up in NYC. Marc (Meistro) drove up the day before the gig and Rhome (DJ Stylus) took the bus up from DC the day of. The bus between the two cities is super cheap, but not always the most reliable and traffic can be terrible. Sure enough the bus took forever and while Marc spent the afternoon digging through a goldmine of African records, Rhome was sitting in traffic on I-95 and almost didn’t get to the gig in time. We also once got stuck in a huge snowstorm travelling from NYC back home to DC, but that is a story for another time…
3. Favourite sandwich?
Marc Meistro: Tacos Arabes are a new favorite. It is a taco / shawarma hybrid invented by Lebanese immigrants in Puebla, Mexico in the 1930s. I recently had it on a trip there and it’s amazing fusion of the two foods. The pork is cooked on a vertical spit like shawarma, the tortilla is very pita-like, and it is served with a yogurt sauce and some salsas that channel the middle east as much as they do Mexico. It’s a delicious example of adaptation, assimilation, ingenuity, and acceptance of outside influences.
Stylus: I never get tired of a proper banh mi but if I’m keeping my local loyalties intact, gotta go with the crabcake. Shoutout to the Chesapeake Bay.
4. Selectors travel tip?
Ask you local connects for the best digging and eating spots before you arrive. More importantly, try to spend an extra day or two in whatever city you are playing in if possible. We don’t hit the road too often, but it is a real privilege to travel the world and play records for people and we always try to make the most of it when our passports do get stamped.
5. Three fav tracks you’re playing right now.
Heads Records South African Disco Dubs (SOUNDWAY)
Soul Jazz Orchestra – Sorrow Fly Away (STRUT)
K15 – Sunbeams (EGLO)
Chris Dave and The Drumhedz – Black Hole feat. Anderson .Paak
Thornato – Back It Up feat. Zongo Abongo (WONDERWHEEL)
6. 5 records you never leave home without.
Sol Power All-Stars – Catch Monkey EP
Kerri Chandler – Coro
Whiskey Barons – Stevie Edits
Fela Kuti – Shakara
Boogaloo Assassins – No, No, No
7. What’s your worst moments behind the decks?
DJing off of USBs is more prone to fuck-ups than the vinyl days and we have had a few. And going b2b can also make it easier to lose track of which deck is actively playing, especially after a few drinks…We were playing a festival a couple of years ago and we had to play on some gear that we had not used before. We had a great 1:30 – 4:30 AM time slot and the floor was chugging away. At about 3:30 Marc ejected the track that was playing and it went silent except for the very audible groans from the festival goers. He frantically loaded up a new tune and the dance floor recovered pretty quickly, but it definitely threw us off.
8. 5 records you wish you’d released?
Detroit Swindle – Figure of Speech
Masters at Work – Backfired
Michel Cleis – Mir a Nero
Afefe Iku – Mirror Dance
DJ Gregory – Block Party
9. What was on your best rider ever?
We keep it simple — as long as the gear is right, just give us a nice local meal and some drinks and we are happy.
10. Favourite festival you’ve ever played at?
Nomadico Festival put on by the Meso Creso crew out of DC. Super creative, intimate, and a very open minded crowd that is ready for anything.