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Untold's Guaguanco Beats

Dubstep crossover producer Untold writes his own rumba rules for the Bacardi Pioneers project

Taking refuge from tropical rain in a ramshackle bar in Puerto Rico, dubstep producer Untold was soaking up a lot more than just the deluge. The purpose of his trip was to take in some of the city’s most authentic rumba sounds, and in the square opposite, a street festival was packed – despite the downpour – with people dancing enthusiastically to live rumba and salsa. Let's face it, in the UK the whole event would have been a damp squib. Whenever he found himself in such situations in the streets or clubs of Puerto Rico, Untold would whip out a complicated-looking recording device and capture the sounds around him: “I got crowd noise, a street party… it really captures that flavour.”

Now back in London, Untold, aka Jack Dunning, has been working on his own rumba-inspired track, which is now available to download on the Bacardi site. With a working title of Molasses Guaguancó, it references the molasses in the rum sampled at the Bacardi distillery, where Dunning had a go at mixing Cuba Libre and Mojito cocktails. “The track is quite technical. With the rumbas there’s a specific pattern, with high-pitched, clicky percussion. A pattern that’s just one note different equals a samba pattern. The style that resonated most with me is one called guaguancó, which is really fast drums, a lead vocal and a backing vocal. It’s quite dark because it’s all in minor keys.”

“I’ve taken that style of rumba which is drums and voice, but I haven’t got access to a vocalist. So I’m mimicking the voice with synth phrases. There was a bunch of grime that came out between 2003 and 2006, I s’pose Wiley led it, and there’s a main synth line that sounds like Japanese music. Some called it sinogrime. This was my Latin version of sinogrime.” The result is a cultural mishmash that plays at dizzying speed, with aggressive bongos, clicks, percussion and synthesised steel drums vying for attention.

It’s easy to imagine this going down well at the club Untold played in on his final night in Puerto Rico. Accompanied by MoShrum of Puerto Rico Dubstep Cru, Untold entered The Vatican, which appears from the outside to be an old block of flats in a residential area, to find a punk band playing. “I went on and played 20 minutes’ worth of London bass music. Some people looked liked they’d never heard anything like it,” he says. “Others were jumping up and down on tables!”

Click here to download Untold's track Molasses Guaguancó.