As one half of the production pair Digital Mystikz, co-founder of club night and label DMZ, and head of Deep Medi Musik, Mala is an essential hero of the dubstep genre, growing the sound past its South London roots.
Yet nine years later, Mala has continued to venture into fresh territory. In April 2011, Mala headed to Havana with DJ Gilles Peterson, collaborating with local musicians, recording their traditional Cuban sounds to his traditional 140 BPM. Following the trip with a year of exploration back home, Mala makes his 2012 solo debut, Mala in Cuba on Brownswood Recordings, pushing the focus from dubstep’s future to his own.
“I was totally out of my element, but you have to do these things in life to change and grow, to learn about yourself and to learn about other people as well,” he admits to FACT.
We all dream of Cuba, but some of us are not allowed the reality, yet we can choose to learn through music. The album teaches us to appreciate the influence of cross-cultural interaction as a foundation of minimalism is saturated with color, deep basslines get swept away by the lightness of jazz keys, compressed moments pump outward again, expanding into polyrhythmic percussion and punchy displays of melody, brass and timbales. Sometimes the listener is dancing in the street, and sometimes hiding in the corner of a magnificent hole in the wall, watching, as a darker digital reality meets the lively chatter of narrow cobblestone streets.
The album is more or less two surprising friends hanging out together while one directs the conversation. As an artist who wishes to a create a sound that “blissfully, powerfully and peacefully unifies all those who listen,” Mala does just that.