Review: Mala - Mala In Cuba


Fri, September 21, 2012  
On Mala in Cuba, an album by UK dubstep producer Mala, Cuban's intricate rhythms converge with South London's bass culture.


For the next instalment of Gilles Peterson's ongoing "Havana Cultura" project, UK dubstep producer Mala (Digital Mystikz, DMZ, Deep Medi Musik) travelled to Havana to record Cuban artists and presents an admixture of two decidedly different musical heritages. Guests include acclaimed pianist Ruben Fonseca.

The music on the album is a cross-section of fluttery, lighter sketches and heavier low-end rumble. Examples of the first: "Como como", a jazz-infused, mid-tempo track graced by the vocals of Dreiser and female vocal quartet Sexto Sentido. On "Calle F" (included on the album's vinyl teaser), the chattering percussion, augmented by warbling piano patterns and dubby trumpet flares, create a beautiful track. The album's swan song "Noches Sueños" feat Danay Suarez (also an artist of Havana Cultura roster) is a laid back, echo-drenched reggae stepper. Tracks like "Changuito" (named after the famous Cuban percussionist) represent the bass department: a growling bass line and hefty beat structure intertwine with nervous rattling timbales and looped trumpet pattern. On "Revolution", a broken rhythm underpins a widescreen melody and humming bassline.

A common factor of the majority of tracks: Mala's characteristic deep production style and dramatic chord progressions with a Cuban twist. A prime example is "The Tunnel" where massive bass line, clicking percussion and meditative melody ride the Havana-South London axis with flair. Standout tracks are: "Ghost" where a throbbing bass, breezy piano and percussion add up to a vertiginously deep track. Another fav is "The Tourist" a rumba flavoured track with glissando guitar licks.

Overall, Mala's spacious South London bass sound synergizes very well with Cuban instrumentation and vocals. It's a clash of cultures that complements each others signature sound wonderfully.

8/10 - Patrice Knap

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