The latest edition has given ten emerging producers from around the world the chance to travel to Havana to produce original music in collaboration with Cuban musicians. The result is an album which not unsurprisingly has Gilles' trademark sounds all over it: dreamy keyboards, danceable beats, jazzy vocals and instrumental solos. The difference here is that the ‘beats' are often superb live Cuban rumba or batá drumming and the singing and rapping is by some of the best artists currently working in Havana. The 12 tracks contain many exciting surprises: the soca influenced ‘Traigo' by El Niche, the fabulous tribute to ocean goddess ‘Yemaya' by Coki y Yeni, the fascinating Havana soundscape ‘Soy Cubano' by Sexto Sentido and the stunning freestyle hip hop of El B on ‘Mañana?'- as profound a reflection on Cuba's current position in the world as any heard recently – all these ensure that overall the balance between producers and artists falls firmly on the side of the Cubans. This album represents a brave experiment on the part of Havana Cultura and reveals an admirable spirit of experiment and openness, resulting in a collection which bears repeated listening and will liven up any dance party.
Dave Willetts for Cuba50/CubaSi magazine
Havana Cultura Mix: the Soundclash!Various artists, 2014, Brownswood RecordingsBuy here