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Mala Announces Cuban Album
The Quietus , June 7th, 2012 06:47

One half of Digital Mystikz to release an album of music recorded in collaboration with musicians in Havana

Mala, one half of Digital Mystikz, dubstep figurehead and all-round sub-bass alchemist, is set to release his long awaited album of Cuban-inspired music through Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label on 10th September. There's been talk of the record emerging for a while, though details have been few and far between, save the odd segment played on Peterson's radio show. The project had its origins in a trip that Peterson and Mala took to Havana in May 2011, where he collaborated with local musicians. Once arriving back in the UK, he set about working the recordings he'd taken into album form.

“This is the record that reevaluates and realigns the dubstep movement within sound system culture," says Peterson of Mala In Cuba. In advance of its release, you can listen to two tracks - 'Cuba Electronic' and 'Calle F' - below.

To accompany the announcement, Mala spoke to FACT about the project's genesis. “I was a little bit unsure about it, to be honest with you," he admitted. "It felt way out of my comfort zone. You must understand – I’m pretty low-key, I do my thing in a particular way, and I’m happy doing things that way, because it’s right for me. But when Gilles approached me it did seem like a serious offer – you know, I’ve had many offers over the years from a vast range of many different people and companies to do all kinds of projects, but usually I shy away them because they don’t feel right. Something about this felt right.”

“We just kind of jammed,” he explained of the collaboration itself. “We ended up working with a guy called Roberto Fonseca and his band. It wasn’t until the very morning that we went into the studio in Havana that the concept came about – which is that they were going to record traditional Cuban rhythms for me, but at the tempo I enjoy writing music at… around 140. Just watching them attack that tempo with what they do was just… it’s just something you can’t put into words. I’ve never been around musicians of that calibre – all of them were phenomenal. They’d set up, literally practice for five minutes and then bang, knock out a five minute improvisation for me to take home. I ended up coming home with about 60GB worth of their playing, just from the first trip.”

“I like to think that it was interesting for [the Cuban musicians] to hear what they do in a completely different context,” he continued. “I wanted [the album] to feel Cuban in a way, to respect the musicians and the culture, but at the same time I still wanted to make music that I could play to my audience, and in my environment – on a soundsystem. It’s Havana meets South London, you know?” Read the full interview here.

For more on Mala and Gilles Peterson, the pair recorded an excellent podcast together a couple of years ago where they listen to some of Mala's favourite and most influential records - as well as some of his own - and discuss his musical career so far. You can listen to it here.