Mala "Cuba Electronic" b/w "Calle F"
Mala's highly anticipated Mala in Cuba LP is still more than a month away, but the dubstep don has elected to let loose a couple of tracks ahead of its release. Crafted after the veteran producer traveled to Cuba and worked with local musicians while visiting the island nation, both "Cuba Electronic" and "Calle F" find him trying on a new sound palette, one that's certainly more Latin, obviously, but could also be deemed more organic than past Mala efforts. That being said, the man's talent for weaving together infectious drum patterns hasn't dissipated, nor has his penchant for underpinning his tracks with heavy layers of sub-bass. In short, Mala may be trying some new things here, but he's still Mala, and it's hard to find serious fault with that.
Of the two selections, "Cuba Electronic" is the vaguely clubbier offering. It's definitely the more dramatic number, pairing stop-and-start arrays of rolling tribal drums over a dense soup of low-end rumblings. Aside from some light synths, there's not much in the way of melody, but there is one particularly unnerving element that repeats throughout the track; it could be a tweaked drum or horn sound, but in Mala's hands, it's more like the bellowing of a rudely awakened prehistoric beast. Combined with the song's intense percussion and pulsing bass notes, it gives "Cuba Electronic" an especially dark and moody edge, and cements the song alongside some of Mala's best work.
"Calle F" is much further afield, reflecting the track's Cuban roots while also indulging in some distinctly jazz flavors. Punctuated by syncopated piano melodies and kinetic trumpet bursts, the production is built atop a jazzily swaying drum pattern, ultimately coming across as a smokey and soulful song that's surprisingly relaxed, even with its subtly chunky bassline. While it's unlikely to surface on many dancefloors, it's not hard to imagine groove-oriented heads enjoying "Calle F" while tracing its roots back through the decades.
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