I came up in the mid-nineties jungle scene, going to parties every week back when Toronto had the biggest rave scene outside of London. From that entry point I worked backwards, musically speaking, with my taste diversifying into The Orb and Basic Channel until I eventually arrived at reggae and dancehall. Caribbean music has been entrenched within the club culture in Montreal and Toronto for a long time because, demographically, these two cities are the most popular destinations for Caribbean emigrants after the UK. This combination of my hometown’s cultural history and my own personal musical narrative ensured that it was Mala, of all the dubstep originators, who resonated with me. Listen to his early Digital Mystikz records like “Anti War Dub” and you can hear how he wears the reggae soundsystem history and drama on his sonic sleeve.
Maybe it was because of my roots background, but my excitement about this record was tempered by concern when I read about the concept of Mala travelling to Cuba with Gilles Peterson to collaborate with local musicians. I actually envisioned an Indiana Jones style map in my mind connecting musical bloodlines and you can clearly trace a path from everything that is happening within electronic dance music directly from the Caribbean; from when islanders first heard American R&B on the the radio, creating their own version, embedding the source code into their culture, exporting it with immigration to the UK, and having it mutate as it spreads across the continent and eventually return to the US. It’s like a low-speed one-watt modem intercontinental exchange. That said, while cross-pollination is a key part of any sound’s development, we can all think of examples where the signal is jammed; where poorly implemented cultural tourism forces roots music into a dance context and leaves us with horrible things like Gotan Project.
Thankfully, on Mala in Cuba, you hear both sides of the equation. Mala doesn’t sample distinctive percussion or melodies only to dump them in a square electronic framework. It’s more symbiotic than that. I find myself drifting away in the music, drawn into an acoustic element, only for the horns to burst into a massive delay cloud. Or I would be zoning in on this half-step beat, when suddenly a flourish of real instruments would emerge from this robotic soup. In some songs you can isolate individual voices that are being fed into the overall conversation between production and instruments: it’s physically impossible, for example, for somebody playing acoustically to generate frequencies at a high volume at 10 Hz – 20 Hz where all of the sub bass happens, so that’s Mala’s doing. He produces the extremely rigid “motorik” rhythms that shape the percussion; listen closely to the inky malevolence of “Cuban Electronic” and you can discern how straight the musicians are playing—or being cut up. On the kinetic “Tribal” however, it works the other way around, with the musicians finding rhythms and tempos Mala probably never would have arrived at on his own.
Listening to the record late one night, it occurred to me that this is the first album since Roni Size and Reprazent’s New Forms that I’ve heard differing influences become so brilliantly amalgamated. To me, this album is the first time that this generation of dubstep producers have really touched on and worked with original soundsystem culture. In short, it feels like the circle is complete. ~
Canadian Scott Monteith, aka Deadbeat, is a Berlin-based deephouse and dubtechno producer. In 2011 he founded his own label BLKRTZ. His latest album, Eight, was released this September. Mala in Cuba is out on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings.
This text appeared first in Electronic Beats Magazine N° 31 (Fall 2012). Read the full issue on issuu.com:
Here’s the latest dose of cool new music videos from around the globe. This week with Lunice, Animal Collective, Mala, Ital and many more …
#0 XXYYXX – ABOUT U [REMASTERED], directed by Lucciana Nicolle
Finally XXYYXX gives us ‘About U’ in all its glory; the old style to the footage as well as the girl sits well with the vibe of the song, right?
#1 Lunice – Good Kids, directed by JFK
Montreal’s next up-and-comer Lunice introduces his clothing with this video. If you haven’t heard him via TNGHT, his project with Hud Mo, then you should probably accept how out of the loop you are.
#2 Unicorn Kid – Need U, dir.?
Unicorn Kid goes completely piano house all over this one. Which is always a plus for me. Video pleasure? Checked.
#3 Animal Collective – Today’s Supernatural, directed by Danny Perez
Looks like the video budget is back in town. After releasing some crazy computer-made visual music videos, Danny Perez had some killer props to shoot with.
#4 Afterhours – Salt On The Wound, directed by Victoria Cheong
“This is the Toronto I remember from childhood,” says Victoria Cheong. “The footage is from a show that was on Global late at night before the colour bars kicked in and the signal went to sleep.”
#5 Ital – Culture Clubs, directed by Chris Byler and Sam Adams
New Ital video from last year’s Hive Mind album, out through Planet Mu Records. One of the most influential albums of last year.
#6 Azealia Banks – Van Vogue, dir.?
Not so sure about Azealia anymore, what has happened with XL? At least she knows how to manipulate the internet, which means – today at least – dropping a new video.
#7 Mala – Cuba Electronic, directed by Teddy Fitzhugh
Mala is set to drop his awaited new album Mala In Cuba via Brownswood Recordings in early september. Try this first appetizer from the the acclaimed low end theorist.
#8 ASAP Rocky – Purple Kisses, self-direcetd
The video is dope as usual. A little drug trip anyone? And stay tuned for more A$AP Rocky goodness coming eb.net very soon.
#9 Twigs – Ache, directed by Grace Ladoja
Twigs, the moniker of a mysterious female vocalist from the UK, delivers the goods with ‘Ache,’ a sexy, experimental, genre-defying track.
#10 Y.N.RichKids – Hot Cheetos Takis”, directed by 13twentythree Photography
These kids, known as the Y.N.RichKids, are part of a YMCA in Minneapolis. Here they serve a 5min rap about Hot Cheetos & Takis. Thanks internet.
Brownswood Recordings’s new ace Will Ozanne aka Gang Colours has some serious champions in his corner. From Gilles Peterson and Ghostpoet to Laurie Anderson it’s no wonder his debut The Keychain Collection sounds so self assured.
Releasing on the 27th Feb, you can stream the whole album below. Dreamy, spacious production and deep cavity bass with a hint of R&B will make this a quintessential early morning listen for 2012, not unlike label mate Flako’s The Mesektet. In the most non-incriminatory way one can say this; should you by any chance be in to “purple kush” you’re probably going to need this record … just saying.
Eliphino. LF. I know. The moniker of 23 year old Tom Wrankmore who looks set to be the next bright young thing to break out of the post-dubstep ghetto with his gorgeously crafted beats, rich with emotion and longing. Sketching a neon line over dense, buzzing drums and nervous percussion his sound sits somewhere in between the best bits of bass and something far more ethereal.
Marking the edges of his own sonic universe with deft use of repetition, sampling and locomotive beats Eliphino first caught our attention when he appeared on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Electric compilation with ‘Let Me Love You Forever’. A toy-town melody reduced to a simple refrain join vocal samples atop frantic drums. The song moves along on a barrage of repetition and yet never becomes boring. It simply buries the feeling deeper into your mind with every listen. Quietly releasing music for over four years, first with his Out Of Phase EP and later his Made Seasons EP –a selection of strung out instrumentals – it was his inclusion on the Brownswood compilation that bought him to the attention of the wider world.
Moving from Leeds, to Manchester and now to London Eliphino began DJ’ing at 15, and was crafting beats on an MPC not long after. He was a resident DJ at Drum Major in Leeds, playing host to Hip Hop’s great and good including slots with Madlib and Q Bert, before taking a residency at Hoya Hoya when he moved to Manchester. It was in Manchester that he also supported Flying Lotus and Tokimonsta and playing alongside these beat pioneers he picked up a production tip or two utilising the experience to forge his own distinct sound.
Now residing in a Seven Sisters (London) warehouse, he is about to drop the record that will tip him into the stratosphere – the Undivided Whole EP. Released on new label somethinksounds, the four tracks touch on everything from the emotion of Sasha, to the disembodied nervous beats of post-garage London. The Undivided Whole is a journey through a post everything club landscape where all that matters is the feeling distilled in the music. Having had his four latest tracks on constant repeat, I have no doubt that measured against the barometer of ‘good music’ Eliphino stands head and shoulders above the copycat beatsmiths.