Mala In Cuba
I’m not as keen as I should be on this brave new concept from one of dubstep’s original heads, Mala. As reported, after a meeting with Gilles Peterson – and a fair amount of chasing up afterwards – Mala found himself travelling to Cuba on a project, to mix the aesthetics and styles of his dubstep background with traditional Latin sounds. On paper - and in light of the raft of dubstep-by-numbers that now populates the pop music charts – Mala In Cuba sounds like a contemporary beacon, a literal dream for the modern fan of fusion, a perfect fix for those looking for the next fresh hybrid of sound.
God knows dubstep has needed it. A vast quantity of the artists that came through some five years ago have completely disconnected themselves with dubstep, already having melded alongside hip-hop, techno, footwork/juke and most popularly, house music. The one factor remains – the use of deep, penetrative sub bass – and one that Mala and his DMZ crew take very seriously indeed. The album succeeds in ‘realigning the dubstep movement with soundsystem culture’, proving that the re-appropriated sound is one that’s completely different from the original rumblings of the founding fathers of the scene. Part of dubstep's dra as its maleable nature and dynamic use of space, perfect for blending with other styles and genres.
Where frenetic, jump-up sensibilities are king of the club - and the battle to see who can make the most punishing noise ensues – it’s back to the slow and low roots of dubstep on Mala In Cuba. Slower tempos closer to 130-40bpm, shouldering creeping, rhythmic slabs of sub bass and not a sniff of mid range in sight.Cuba Electronic sees Mala heading dancefloor abound, mixing the weighted, sermonising thunder of his early Mystikz work with dusty, driving and organically recroded percussions. Changuito's broken beat pan and pot percussion is beared by snapping, meandering drum tempos and radiating basslines. Tribal's minor tone piano notes have replaced the synthetic driplets found on the beginning of classics such as Anti-War Dub, but laced with plenty of low-end bass frequencies and connotations of Cuban and Jamaican cultre exisiting as one through musical similarities and differences.
But there's still something about this album that suggests coffee table, close to the lazy, lumping concept of 'world music'. It succeeds in reminding people of the cultural context of dubstep and its ability to mix into other forms; however, this auter's personal vision of his o Cuba sounds like its being too orchestrated, instead of it sounding like a mutual understanding of each musical and cultural form, seamlessly bleeding into one another. Its too top heavy in his favour but with moments of clarity and genius between the 2 sounds, it certainly does wonders for the future of the dubstep scene and still demonstrates Mala as one of the finest producers and craftsmen of the last ten years.
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