Urban Ethics Urban Ethics


Digital Mystikz Digital MystikzUrban Ethics

6.9 / 10


Coki and Mala went to school together, exchanged music tapes and kicked each other playing football; they started to produce, set themselves up as a group, then a label, and suddenly, they started to create (but not release) separately. The moment of the split is unknown. The reference prior to “Urban Ethics” might provide a clue about the couple’s separation (not an annulment of the marriage or a divorce, as Mala made clear to us some months ago in this interview ). “Education / Horrid Henry”exemplifies in a summarised version what happens to “Return II Space” and this “Urban Ethics” if you contrast or compare them. They aren’t like water and oil, because in spite of being very different, they don’t go so far as to repel each other. But they are like honey and vinegar: brutal contrasts that can be mixed together for a joint presentation. Neither “Education” nor “Horrid Henry” appears on the respective LPs of Digital Mystikz, but they synthesise the stylistic line that the duo has adopted when it comes to working separately. And although they insist on keeping Digital Mystikz as an unbreakable entity, although they maintain links in the creative background, the imaginations of the two artists, the fields that they explore in their productive processes and the results are in totally different orbits.

“Horrid Henry” was the expectation of “Urban Ethics” made into a song. With DMZ’s 21st reference, Coki reappeared to add the dose of aggressiveness and psychosis to the musical entity that Mala had forgotten in “Return II Space”. In a year in which wobble has been vilified practically from the speakers (justifiably in most cases), Dean Harris was called to be one of the few people capable of giving it back some dignity. And this expectation is partially met, although not all of the cuts on these three records follow in the brilliantly savage wake of “Horrid Henry”. “Old Hope” and “Serious” appeal to the extreme love of Jamaica that Harris has always displayed (what led him to go to Jamaica to bring the vocal for “Anti War Dub”, a real hymn). With a concept of the song that is closer to smoking a bong at the Rototom Festival than to breaking your neck in a rave, the line that these two songs take within the LP as a whole almost screeches. If what Coki wanted to do was show that like Mala, he can also be abstract and go beyond productions intended for the dance floor, he has done it. But the result, as far as quality goes, is far from Mala’s, as neither “Old Hope” nor “Serious” manages to catch your eardrum’s attention, remaining easily ignored music (unless you are a hopeless dub fan).

Aside from these two rocks, Coki repeats Mala’s success in the sense that he has managed to keep the sound as close to 2003 as to 2015. Songs like “Shock It” or “It” are worthy of the pearls of “Return II Space” like “Eyez” or “Mountain Dread March”. Although less mystic than Mala, Harris is also able to dominate the low notes to slide them in between your chest and your back, distancing himself from the hardcore continuum, bringing out pieces that are as extraterrestrial as they are enjoyable. And in this sense, the high point of the album is “Animal”, an exercise in the mastery of distortion and the segregation of adrenalin. It could well be the bird of prey on the cover, beating its wings and chasing after prey in the middle of the night. Nevertheless, unlike the preceding album, this one feels too short, too brief, not only in quantity—and not in quality, since that isn’t it either—but rather in message, in contents, emotional charge, or however you want to call musicians’ ability to crystallise the intangible. Digital Mystikz, as Mark Lawrence said, is a faith, and the entity is unbreakable. If they were a couple playing doubles tennis, their understanding of each other on the court would be magnificent. Nevertheless, Mark Lawrence would never have his serve broken, while Dean Harris would miss a few balls when he comes up to the net.

Mónica Franco

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