Mala – Mirrors (2016) [7Digital FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Mala – Mirrors (2016) 
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 54:19 minutes | 540 MB | Genre: Dance
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: 7Digital | Front cover | © Brownswood Recordings

Mala’s first new album in four years, Mirrors, is effectively the Mala In Peru to his previous LP’s Mala In Cuba session, and again enabled by Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings. Working with native musicians in Lima, including Asociacion Juvenil Puno, Danitse, Colectivo Palenke and Sylvia Falcón, the DMZ don gorgon traces rhiozomatic binds and faultlines between South London and South America via seismic bass and plasmic dub contrails, shaping up as a much darker, spirit-haunted sound than its predecessor. It’s identifiably Mala music, at once rooted and forward-leaning; trampling zones close to his ground-breaking early DMZ emissions and yet keenly compatible with the sci fi-esque Afro-Latin styles currently sprouting up across a diaspora located between London, NYC and South America.

As with his 2012 debut full-length Mala in Cuba, Mirrors finds the dubstep originator taking up residence in a different land (namely Peru) and integrating its musical traditions with his own style. As ever, his productions are vast and spacious, letting the bass flow out over the carefully paced beats. These tracks incorporate native instruments created from animal bones and dried pumpkins. They also incorporate pan flutes and acoustic guitars, and they manage to completely sidestep any resemblance to the unforgivably corny fad known as “tropical house.” His excursions seem like the product of a genuine quest to return to his roots, not an attempt to be trendy. Therefore, his old-and-new blends seem natural and fluid, and the songs are spirited and graceful. Two songs forgo beats entirely, focusing on impassioned female vocals as well as sweet acoustic guitar (“Cunumicita,” with Danitse) and rippling flutes (“Sound of the River,” featuring Sylvia Falcón accompanied by a running stream). Many of the songs feature sparse beats and sinister melodies, building up to an impact at just the right moment without getting too aggressive. “4 Elements” starts off with a slowly paced roll call, and explodes with broken drum beats once it gets to “fire.” “Looney” features suspenseful horns that sound straight out of the original Godzilla soundtrack as well as a bit of dubby echo, and it’s basically a classic Digital Mystikz track. “Take Flight” features a dusty, twangy guitar riff atop a 3/4 beat, and basically sounds like a younger cousin of DJ Shadow’s “Dark Days.” Not all of the tracks sound so heavy and serious; opener “Kotos” has a bit of a festive, carnival-like feel. The fusion that Mala achieves with this album isn’t without precedent; it particularly brings to mind Ninja Tune alumni Up, Bustle and Out’s melding of breakbeats with flamenco guitars and other Latin influences, dating back to the ’90s. Still, nobody else creates contemplative bass music quite like Mala, and Mirrors sounds fresh and inspired. ~~ AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson

01 – Kotos (feat. Asociacion Juvenil Puno)
02 – Dedication 365
03 – Cusco Street Scene
04 – They’re Coming
05 – Shadows
06 – Cunumicita (performed by Danitse)
07 – Take Flight
08 – The Calling
09 – Inga Gani
10 – Looney
11 – Markos Swagga
12 – Zapateo ( feat. Colectivo Palenke)
13 – Sound Of The River (feat. Sylvia Falcón)
14 – 4 Elements