Review Gilles Peterson — Havana Cultura Remixed (2010)
Today, you may think of Gilles Peterson as a DJ. A DJ yes, but he has helped launch the careers of some of the best musical artists of our generation; not to mention the joy he has brought to thousands of beat hungry ravers back in the 90’s, bopping out to Gilles’ perfect tunes.
It is with his love of music and his quest for the perfect beat, that the music of Havana took centre stage. During his time in Latin America, Gilles wound up meeting some very gifted musicians indeed and with no further a due, he assembled his new Cuban kids on the block and began recording Gilles Peterson Presents: Havana Cultura.
The record starts off promisingly, with first track “Mami” using repetitive sound bites to give a distinct feel of Cuban street life. The keys and guitar are simplistic yet effective enough to keep your feet tapping for the entire tune. Second track “Roforofo Fight” (a Fela Kuti cover) heats things up, with booty-shaking rhythms and enough brass to mock Mark Ronson with.
The album then moves into a more minimalistic approach on “Rezando,” using modest piano parts as the main feature. However, it doesn’t stay quiet for long as “Chekere Son” pumps up a bassline that many an old skool raver would salivate for. This track is a particular highlight, as Gilles has managed to craft Havana culture into a somewhat ‘dub-style’ genre – a perfect mixture and a perfect example of just what this man can do.
Peterson’s knowledge and skill is what has pulled this album to the front of the line. Yes, the musician’s incredible talents shine through but it is how Gilles has produced each song that allows “Havana Culture” to stand on its own two feet. “La Revolucion del Cuerpo”, for example, oozes ambience and integrity with the effortless vocals adding the cherry on top.
Each song continues to impress and as the album plays on it becomes clear that Peterson has found another calling. As remix albums go (and they can go terribly), this is up there with the best of the bunch. Of course the Cuban influence pours through the speakers on each track but Peterson allows for uniqueness and dodges the doom of cheesiness that can often attach itself to remix albums. At eleven tracks, the album is long enough to keep you groovin’ but just short enough to keep you wanting some more of that Cuban fever.
This is indeed, Havana culture, but not as you know it.
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