Mala ‘Mala In Cuba’ (Brownswood)
The long awaited album Mala In Cuba finally dropped last week after months of expectation & the slow drip feed of teaser videos, interviews, streaming video’s & etc. Hec, so well promoted has the album been that it’s even got a website all of it’s own, unsurprisingly called “Mala In Cuba“. Phillip Neeson got his hands on a copy last week & after listening to it a few times filed the report below.
The story I’m sure you have already heard is the one about Mala (one half of production duo Digital Mystikz) visiting Cuba with Brownswood boss & 6music DJ Gilles Peterson, hitting some clubs & absorbing the countries music, then making an LP that mixes his dubstep or drum’n'bass means of production with Cuban club themes and musical flavours. Mala In Cuba, dear friend, is the result.
Undoubtedly it’s an album that works well, that flows along in a steady and fluid manner. Yet as good a job it is regarding the production and the way none of it appears awkward or out-of-place, the record also has a tendency to go down the heard-it-before, electro-jazz route too often, which is going to be a problem for those of you who prefer something more industrial and challenging. But I guess when you take the record’s premise on board, this sound was always likely to feature heavily.
Cuba Electronic is one of the better tracks here as it offers up less of the club-jazz. Instead we have Mala picking up the beat and running with it, including what sounds like some sort of animal-type sample helping it along. Calle F is another, where dusty piano dips in and out as Mala does his stuff, rattling together his breaks and beats, the track sounding quite like something the excellent Funki Porcini would come up with.
The darker Curfew isn’t bad either, beginning by teasing the listener into expecting some sweetness and light with its Caribbean piano touches, before something more tense and tricky takes hold.
Thematically, Mala In Cuba works fine and is to an extent an enjoyable listen, despite those moments where it is prone to drift. It is going to be held up by some as something special because of the, rightfully, well-respected individual behind it as well as the story of its making, but it must be pointed out that it’s a ‘good’ record, not a ‘great’ one.