Rara Riot: Hear a Funky Cut from Strut’s ‘Haiti Direct’ Compilation
Les Fantaisistes de Carrefour (and others) showcase a musical world beyond the carnival
The crate-digging archivists of Strut Records are preparing to release a two-disc set of Haitian dance music sourced from the ’60s and ’70s. Dubbed Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini-Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds 1960-1978, the January 28 compilation was overseen by DJ Hugo Mendez of the Sofrito collective, and focuses on a handful of styles that emerged at a key moment in the island’s cultural history. “At the dawn of the ’60s, as Jamaica twisted American R&B into ska and reggae, and musicians from Cuba and Puerto Rico codified the sound of Salsa, Haiti gave birth to Compas Direct, an updating of the traditional meringue rhythm, adapted with a new swing and complex arrangements.” Below, you’ll hear Les Fantaisistes de Carrefour, a group from the suburbs of Port au Prince, performing “Panno Caye Nan Bois Chêne,” a funkily shuffling number whose slinky rhythms sometimes recall the groove and pulse of krautrock. Arcade Fire, take note.