Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Mala: Mala in Cuba (Brownswood/Southbound)

Mala: Revolution
Mala: Mala in Cuba (Brownswood/Southbound)

When UK DJ and Cuban music aficionado Gilles Peterson went back to Havana in May last year to record local musicians (who have appeared on his excellent on-going Havana Cultura series), he took with him South London dubstep pioneer and producer Mala (aka Mark Lawrence of Digital Mystikz) who set himself up in another room beside Peterson's studio and recorded various passing-traffic musicians.

Taking the recordings home, Mala reprocessed them and -- while keeping the integrity of music by such wonderful artists as pianist Roberto Fonseca, singers/world music hotties Sexto Sentido and trip-hop vocalist Danay Suarez -- pulled out this album which bridges contemporary Havana, dub-conscious Jamaica and urban London clubland.

It's a heady if sometimes highly restrained tonic of retro-Seventies keyboards, classy but constrained electro-beats and everywhere a very subtle insinuation of Cuban sounds . . . but fractured through a prism if your knowledge begins and ends with Buena Vista and its offshoots.

It isn't world music as some might know or prefer it, but the world expands and contracts with technology, access and cheap airfares.

This is the Cuban shakedown of the 21st century, inna dubbed-up electronica style.

Maybe a bit safe in places for some, but a different view of Havana for sure. And one which just grabs and holds on.

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Tags: best of elsewhere 2012