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Mixed in Berlin, February 2020
(71:48, 164 MB, 320 kbps mp3)
Direct link to the mix:
- Mala – Word & Sound ft. Natty & Benjamin Zephaniah (I&I)
- Mala – Curfew (Brownswood)
- Mala – Don’t Let Me Go (Soul Jazz)
- Dubkasm – Victory (Mala Remix) (Dubkasm)
- The Last Poets – Understand What Black Is (Mala Remix) (Studio Rockers)
- Digital Mystikz – Ancient Memories (DMZ)
- Mala – Maintain Thru Madness (DMZ)
- Mala – Cusco Street Scene (Brownswood)
- Mala – Blue Notez (DMZ)
- Digital Mystikz – Return II Space (DMZ)
- Mala – Miracles (Deep Medi Musik)
- Mala – Looney (Brownswood)
- Mala – Changuito (Brownswood)
- Digital Mystikz – Give Jah Glory (Tempa)
- Digital Mystikz – Awake (Rephlex)
- Digital Mystikz – Misty Winter (Soul Jazz)
- Mala – Hunter (DMZ)
- Digital Mystikz – Eyez (DMZ)
- Digital Mystikz – Eyez VIP (DMZ)
- Mala – Lean Forward (DMZ)
- Digital Mystikz – Guilty ft Sgt Pokes (Soul Jazz)
- Mala – Forgive (Deep Medi Musik)
- Digital Mystikz – Walkin’ With Jah (Soul Jazz)
- Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – Like The Way You Should (Mala Remix) (On-U Sound)
- Mala – Alicia (I&I)
Almost exactly five years after my first Mala tribute, Pearsall in Berlin, I’ve decided to record a second one, as part of the year of tribute/concept mixes that I have planned for 2020 (as mentioned in the post to accompany Super Rhythmic Facts).
I’ve been toying with the idea for a follow up for literally years without making any progress, but the impetus to actually go and do it was seeing the man himself at a Deep Medi night at Gretchen in Kreuzberg back in September – it was so much fun that as I walked out of the club at about 4am I thought, “man, I really need to do another Mala tribute!”
Of course, it only took me six months to actually get around to recording it, but sometimes that’s life …
Since I am 39 and I have two kids and I work full time in a reasonably mentally demanding job, obviously I don’t go to clubs all that often any more, which is why it was so much fun to go out and see Mala, even if it was totally on my own.
It was a perfect reminder of just how physical dubstep music is. Maybe this will sound weird, but I’ve always thought of electronic music in terms of shapes and colors, like acid lines are yellow tendrils that spread out, or trance arpeggios are blue or purple and fan out in waves, Amen drums are jagged like a mountain range replicating itself over and over.
Dubstep, on the other hand, is solid blocks of rhythm, like large concrete slabs, inserted over solid glacial blasts of bass, as if you built a sonic temple deep in the Antarctic wastes. When you have the experience of hearing this music on a powerful soundsystem you really understand the reality of this, how the interplay of the drums and (especially) the bass can be so physically powerful, to the point where you feel it throughout your body.
It’s not to be trifled with! So I walked out of the club going “wow! that was great …” and resolved to pull together another Mala mix from my extensive collection of his released tunes (sadly there is a big back catalogue of his stuff that only exists on dubplate that I will never get my hands on).
This mix, therefore, pulls together tracks from throughout Mala’s career, from some of the earliest releases as Digital Mystikz through to his most recent single, Word & Sound. It’s not in any particular chronological order; instead I tried to navigate through vibewise, moving in a logical way between the tracks. And I think it worked – although I wish I had found a good point to insert the mighty Changes into the mix.
I’ve been listening to this mix a lot over the last week (and greatly enjoying it!) and one thing that really struck me is how even though Mala’s music could be said to spring from a singular vision (heavy bass, percussive beats, thick roots reggae and dub influences), he has the vision and creativity to express this core idea in so many different ways – rhythmically alone the tunes on this mix cover so much ground, from lurching half-step to garage-style flickering two-step to earthquake bass laced with Cuban and Peruvian percussion patterns, classic Jamaican-style rocksteady beats and beyond, all coated in a wide range of sonic moods, from aggressive to contemplative, and with a full panoply of sound effects such as guitars, trumpets, synths, bells, and more.
Lots and lots of reverb.
And not to mention the bass, which is the foundation of this music after all. The bass on these tracks comes in all kinds of different flavors, but always with one thing in common … heaviness.
If you have a chance to listen to this mix on a decent stereo set-up, please do! You won’t regret it …
The other inspiration for this mix is actually Mala’s social media presence. There’s always a risk when you follow some dj or producer via social media that they will turn out to be a total dick (although that shouldn’t affect your opinion of their music, it does leave a sour taste in your mouth when it does happen), but fortunately Mala seems to be a genuinely good dude, with a positive outlook on life and music!
The specific thing he has been doing on social media which I have found quite inspirational has been his running. He posts short clips of himself running literally every day, and he shared some more detailed thoughts about his running every day for a year here:
Seeing him doing this so consistently and offering words of encouragement helped inspire me to try to better my own health situation. So for me at the moment the situation is that I am going to be 40 later this year and as of Christmas I was up to my highest ever weight – I had a stressful year last year, with very intense working days that left me mentally exhausted, extensive sleep deprivation due to my youngest child’s bad sleeping patterns, and combined together I basically stopped exercising and I was keeping myself upright with a lot of caffeine and sugar and carbs. Unsurprisingly I piled on the pounds, which is not an ideal long-term solution.
Mala’s inspiration for me was to take control of your health and do it via something you love, so I spent some time thinking about how to be healthier in general. Given his love of running, maybe it sounds a little weird that my decision has been not to run, but that’s because for maybe like ten years I have run on and off without ever really liking it, and it just doesn’t make sense to do something in a half-hearted way that you hate. So what I am doing is combining weight training several times a week (with a focus on the Happy Body method, working twice a month with my friend Billy Blackwell of Happy Body Berlin to improve my strengh, speed and flexibility) and long walks (which I have always loved) – so taking several very long walks per week and trying to generally walk about 12-14,000 steps per day. I am also rethinking The bigger thing, of course, is to rethink my approach to eating, by rebalancing my meals to be more veggie-heavy as opposed to carb heavy. This also means more meal prep and planning on weekends so that in the week I already have healthy options ready and I don’t need to rely on my wife to cook for me.
We’ll see where it goes from here, but I’ve lost 10 pounds in the first two months of the year, which is a good start.
As an example of such a long walk, here are some photos from yesterday morning when I walked from the south of Wilmersdorf (where I live) to the east of Kreuzberg (where I work) – this is just under two hours of walking, or 8.6 kilometers of distance. I set a timer on my phone to take a photo every ten minutes, just to give you a sense of the city.