Review: From Cuba, Mala heads south for another mystic adventure in international cross-pollination on Mirrors, the Deep Medi man's latest LP-length bubbler for Brownswood. Fusing inspirations, energies, talents and techniques from Peru - and working with some of the country's most respected musicians - it's another immersive body of work that genuinely sounds like no other. From the pensive tribal march of "Cusco Street Scene" to the shimmering twangs and dusty, languid claps of "Zapateo" by way of demented insistency of "Looney" and the muddy cosmic textures of "The Calling", Mala has once again immersed himself so deeply into a culture and musical discourse that he not only speaks it fluently but has added to its rich vernacular. Vinyl was invented for albums like this.
Review: Mala's album project comes to light with a healthy amount of expectation. The DMZ / Deep Medi Musik main man has always carried a reverence amongst the dubstep scene for his unfussy approach, staying true to the sound he helped forge in the nascent days of the genre while avoiding over-exposure or buckling to hype and trend where so many of his peers succumbed to change. As such this project sees the man well outside of his comfort zone as he tackles a specific album project whilst sticking his head more clearly overground to work with Gilles Peterson on an adventure in Cuba working with local musicians. This is most definitely Mala's music, and the spiritual, tribal nature of his productions to date only gets enhanced by the influx of Cuban folk sounds. This is no simple case of ripping samples and dropping them for token effect though; the percussive patterns and licks of piano, guitar, horns and voice are completely interwoven into the South London pressure as if they were always meant to be. It's testament to the pure approach Mala takes in the studio that he manages to balance these unlikely bedfellows to such fluid effect. Undoubtedly there will be naysayers who will argue that in doing an album of this nature Mala is diluting his purist vision for dubstep, but in truth the approach and end results he has managed to conjure up bring a revitalising, fresh angle to the genre, which is what it needs in abundance. There's maybe a lack of the "shock of the new" factor as Cubano music is not exactly a stranger to UK dance music forms, and Mala isn't exactly switching his own stance too drastically, but ultimately that doesn't matter. The whole album is direct and immensely satisfying to listen to, capturing the alluring spirit of South American folk tradition and empowering it with the transcendental nature of dubstep in its finest form.
Review: Unlike Mark Lawrence's previous releases, which are primarily expressive of the UK urban environment, Cuba Electronic relies on Latin American influences to delve deeper into the artist's own personal take on dub music. The title track on Side A sees Mala bring out his trademark percussion but this time it's more grounded in tribal roots, where skipping bongos and heavy hi-hats collide with his well-known love for subbass levels. Up next, "Calle" is further based around Cuban musical heritage, where a fast, progressive percussion makes way for stunning trumpet samples and shiny melodies. Another fine instalment of UK-flavoured electronic music from the gifted Mala!
Review: Fiery beats from authoritative YouTube-rooted trap connoisseurs All Trap Music. Ranging from the most respected names in the game (UZ, Buku, 8Er$) to exciting up-and-comers (Capsun, Malanoche), it's a smouldering four-track document that clearly details trap's creative state of health in 2015. UZ goes for the Halloween, haunted arpeggio vibe (great for moody set openers), Buku embraces the rave with a pacier, gritty twist, 8Er$ and Malanoche play the perfect balance of gangster beats, dreaminess and subverted electro elements while Capsun brings the show to a lush beat-style finale with a little nod to the likes of AWE and Terrorrhythm's output. Feel the heat.
Review: It's always a good sign when a label reaches its celebratory 100th release compilation. So yes, Giles Petersen's quirky label is indeed 100 releases old and collected here are some of Brownswood's best regarded remixes. Highlights include "So Good Today (Osunlade's Yoruba Soul remix)", "Wires (Theo Parrish remix)" and "Desire (Moodyman remix)". Also featured are very early reworks by SBTRKT and Joy Orbison as well as one brand new tune, the sizzling "Noches Suenos" by Mala.
DJ Madd - "The Life You Chose" (Distance remix) - (4:38) 140 BPM
Stinkahbell - "Film Noir" - (5:37) 140 BPM
Sleeper & Thelem - "Arrakis" - (5:15) 140 BPM
Kryptic Minds - "The Divide" - (5:32)
Various - "This Is Dubstep 2013" (continuous DJ mix - part 1) - (1:13:24) 140 BPM
Various - "This Is Dubstep 2013" (continuous DJ mix - part 2) - (1:09:30) 140 BPM
Review: Sixth in the series, This Is Dubstep is one of the more comprehensive, on-point series the scene has given us (ie: many!) Across the 40 tracks every single shade is covered; from rave-tinged (Noisia's remix of "Smack My Bitch Up") to all-out technicolour bass (Drumsound & Bassline Smith), This Is Dubstep 2013 pays respect to all corners of the dance - including the really far-out experimentations of Mala and his Cuban project. With exclusives such as V.I.V.E.K's "Barcelona" and Killawatt's "Single Entity" thrown in for good measure, this isn't just a summary of today's dubstep; it's a slice of the future too.
Review: As January nears its bitter end, it seems this the time to release mega compilation albums. AEI, the company behind Get Darker, UKF and D&B Arena unveil their next project: Get Darker Presents: This Is Dubstep 2012. And what an album it is. Bringing in all the flavours of contemporary dubstep, it succeeds in providing a sweeping panorama of an increasingly fractionalized scene. From the deeper sounds of Author, VIVEK, Kryptic Minds, Icicle & Distance and Phaeleh, through material from scene pioneers such as Horsepower Productions, Skream and Benga, to the more aggressive sounds of Gemini, Flux Pavillion, 16 Bit and Nero, it's all covered. A brilliant "who's who" of dubstep in 2012 - highly recommended.