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!