Dengue Dengue Dengue! – La Alianza Profana

I am back from the land of the incredibly busy and catching up on the mountains of great music that has been awaiting my ear for the past month. Near the top of the list was the debut album from Peru’s masked cumbia viajeros Dengue Dengue DengueThe duo have been causing waves, not just in Peru, but internationally for their fresh take on digital cumbia and performances at Lima’s TOMA! fiestas. Their two mixtapes (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2) set a precedent for their fresh digital cumbia explorations, showcasing the producers’ talent for a good remix alongside their burgeoning production/dancefloor-science skills.

The culmination of these explorations is La Alianza Profana, one of only a few independent albums to emerge from the mass of tropical / digital /cumbia productions floating around Soundcloud these days. As much as I’d like to throw away the “digital cumbia” association, DDD’s album is threaded together with that rhythm in digital form making it hard to judge it as anything else. The album however shows why DDD stand out as two of the most interesting producers of their ilk, skilfully mixing influences from electronica, dubstep, dub, cumbia (of course) and god knows what else.

While El Remolón crafts multi-coloured ice cream nu-cumbia and Chancha via Circuito sounds like he’s drifting down a foggy rainforest tributary, DDD twist nu-cumbia into a much darker place. The basses are crunching, heavy and tight while the melodies are haunted and black. Simiolo and Chacalom (two peas in a pod) are stand out dancefloor killers while Chichon (personal favourite) is a hands in the air, heavy hitting slice of digital villera. Como Bailar la Cumbia manages to weave Funky House rhythms into cumbia, layering it with a floating melody that makes it sound truly fresh.

The album is clearly leans more towards the digital side than to rootsy cumbia but this is not to its detriment – it is DDD’s sound. It is clear that La Alianza Profunda is an album conceived, tested and made for the TOMA! dancefloor. It is also bluddy good ammunition for any budding digital cumbia DJ from Buenos Aires to Stockholm.

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Mala in Cuba

This has to be one of the most anticipated releases this summer (if you can still call it that?) Jet pioneering bass scientist Mala to Cuba, stick him in a room with hugely talented local musicians (who provide him with 60GB of original material), fly him back to London, put him in a studio and wait for the end result. The end result? One of the most interesting and exciting albums of the year.

The whole thing was instigated by Gilles Peterson, forming part of his Havana Cultura project, and facilitated Mala to head out to Cuba and work with pianist Roberto Fonseca and a host of musicians.  The producer laid down simple 140bpm tracks over which the musicians would improvise, he then took these recordings back home and crafted the 14 tracks that make up the album. The end product is not however a simple transformation of Cuban music for the sound systems and dancefloors but rather a thoughtful homage to the island, its culture, its rhythms and melodies – as Mala puts it:

“I just had to make music how I feel it and this is how it came out. I can only bring what I do, so I guess the record is really me trying to translate my experience of Cuba.”

Mala in Cuba swings between Mala’s trademark heavy sub-laden tracks, incorporating driving Cuban percussion such as Changuito and The Tunnel (an absolute dancefloor killer), and more reflective pieces. For example, Tribal is more akin to the sound of Murcof’s classical-electronica than DMZ, its haunting piano echoing through dusty, forgotten Cuban ballrooms. Noches Suenos has a more stripped down dub leaning with great overlaid vocals from Danay Suarez meanwhile Como Como lowers down the tempo, incorporating thick bass, trickling snynths, echoing pianos and foggy vocals. The album has so many great tracks on it it is hard to pick out your favourites.

Since his early days as one of the dubstep pioneers at DMZ, Mala has always been a master of low end theory and this pitch perfect control of the sub frequencies is present throughout the album. However, Mala in Cuba pushes in a new direction and in doing so affirms Mala’s place as one of the UK’s most exciting and talented electronic music producers. I will leave you with this from the man himself:

“I felt really at home in Cuba, I really did. The people I met there do music for the same reason I do it—because they love it. They don’t do it because they think they’re going to be successful or famous, they just do it because its something within them that they have to do. That’s the beautiful thing for me about all of this. It’s not about finishing music or being able to sell a record. It’s just really about exploring and discovering new things. For me, that’s really where the joy is in all of this.”

You can download the album digitally now and buy on CD from next week via Brownswood Recordings. Unfortunately, it seems the vinyl has already sold out. Also worth checking out XLR8R’s feature on the producer and the album. 

Ezekiel – Life Begins at Night (Moveltraxx)

There must be something in the water. First there was Control Machete (and of course Toy Selectah) then the whole 3Ball MTY explosion now Monterrey gives us Ezekiel. The young Mexican producer has been making waves in all the right places for his fusion of splintered “bass” styles (dubstep, trap, hip-hop, juke), creating fresh music that manages to stand out in the sea of bad imitations.

Yesterday, Paris based label Moveltraxx released Ezekiel’s EP “Life Begins at Night“. The producer has already been hyped by taste makers (including mentions from MTV Iggy and the Diplo blessing on his BBC Radio 1 show) and the EP lives up to the hype. The artwork might be questionable but the music hits the spot.

“Irreversible” is a hard hitting hip-hop with splinters of raving bass and spilling snares while hit “Drop Ur Ass” pushes the lines between Juke and Dubstep. “Last Rave” is the weakest on the EP (but put that down to personal preference) yet all is saved by final cut “Aguacate”. Lots of attitude and swagger but some quality producing to back it up. The music grabs and hints at influences from the spectrum of bass music but manages to craft a sound that is original, captivating and sure to make an impact on a dancefloor. Exciting things to come. You can pick up the EP from iTunes, Beatport and Juno.

Self Evident – Oro Corazón (Sub Klub)

Self Evident is one third of the production/DJ collective WEPA! from Vancouver. The trio, completed by Gameboy and Will Eede, have been pushing the Latin folklore/digitalism crossover, moulding folkore samples and rhythms with programmed beats and bass, as captivated by Eede’s trippy-Andino mix series.

On Oro Corazón, released through future-latin label Sub Klub, Self Evident shows more of a dancefloor leaning than his colleagues. The EP revolves around the dem-bow beat, twisting it into different variations and melting wider influences into the mix. Opener “Bendecir” is a collage of vocal snippets, synth bleeps and the odd flute with a healthy bass line sticking all the parts together. Title track “Oro Corazon” is the standout track on the EP if only for the breakdown between the vocal line and the pizzicato strings. The rest of the EP takes in Dubstep/global bass (Silver VIP), disrupted reggaeton (Reggaetone Style) and a block of sub bass. You can download Oro Corazón (MP3) from Sub Klub Records here and check out more of Self Evident‘s tunes via Soundcloud.

Mala working on a “Cuban” album

So, this is a turn up for the books. It has been revealed that one of Dubstep’s founding fathers and continuing pioneers, Digital Mystikz man Mala is working on a new album with Cuban musicians. The news (via Clash) was announced by none other than Mala’s friend and Cuban music afficianad Gilles Peterson. Apparently Mala accompanied the chamipon of global sounds on one of his trips to Cuba where he DJed and got an introduction to Cuban music:

“So I basically took Mala over there with me and we spent the first few days recording Latin rhythms and we took those back to the UK and he’s been working on that.”

So, a Mala interpretation of Cuban rhythms? Too good to be true? You will have to wait and see as the album is pencilled for a release in February/March.

Sunday Mashup – Roots Manuva vs Daleduro

I wasn’t able to get round to uploading a mashup last weekend due to unforseen circumstances. Things are back to normal this week and we present a mashup of Daleduro’s subby version of the classic cumbia argentina, ‘Bombon Asesino’:

..and Roots Manuva’s ‘Thinking’ from his 2005 album Awfully Deep.

http://official.fm/tracks/295207?size=small

XLR8R Podcast 200 – Richie Hawtin & Mala

I have featured a few mixes from the XLR8R podcast series in the past but to mark the 200th podcast the magazine has pulled out all the stops. Not content with offering an exclusive mix from one of the most influential techno DJs of the past twenty years, Richie Hawtin, the special edition is complimented with a set from one of the original dubstep pioneers, Digital Mystikz member and Deep Medi label head, Mala. The mix is peppered with DMZ’s trademark sub-bass loaded dub-plates and highlights how the original founders of the scene are continuing to push the sound in new directions with such skill and love for the music. Download/listen/subscribe.