tue 23/07/2024

CD: Africa Hitech - 93 Million Miles | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Africa Hitech - 93 Million Miles

CD: Africa Hitech - 93 Million Miles

Bravura electronica genre-collision lets the machines sing

Africa Hitech's '93 Million Miles': A masterpiece

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, a masterpiece – but it could easily have been a bloody mess.

The team-up of Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek is the kind of thing that brings genre purists and scene snobs out in hives: Somerset-born, Australian-resident Pritchard having delved into everything from sensuous ambient jazz to bouncing booty bass, hardcore rave to exotica over his two-decade career, while vocalist and co-producer Steve Spacek formed the highly individualist and criminally under-appreciated techno soul band Spacek at the start of the 2000s. Together they have brought together umpteen varieties of hardcore street music from across the planet with rarefied electronica, cosmic jazz and all manner of other avant-gardism, and not only made it work but made it work delightfully.

Spacek only actually sings on a very few tracks, and on those is mainly heavily electronically processed. It is still, though, a song-based album, with the synthesisers doing the singing. Like the greatest electronica going back to Kraftwerk, Pritchard and Spacek are about bringing machines to life, finding variation in repetition that makes the music sound like it's emerged from natural, living processes rather than arrangements of blocks on a screen. And just as Kraftwerk took inspiration from the relentless grooves of James Brown to turn avant-garde music into something that moves the body and spirit, so Africa Hitech elaborate on some of the fiercest dance genres around now without losing their gut-level power, their influence in turn feeding straight back to the work of many of the younger producers their sounds resemble.

As with anything so complex, it won't be to everyone's tastes; for starters it certainly doesn't make sense without good bass reproduction. You may, too, at first find the jagged, hissing snare drums of “Glangslap” too harsh, or the scampering drum patterns in “Foot Step” (derived from the “footwork” dance battles of the ghettos of Chicago) too off-centre. But let yourself get seduced by the balmy arpeggiations of “Our Luv”, the hypnotic Sun Ra-influences in “Light the Way” and “Cyclic Sun”, or the loping lullaby “Don't Fight It”, and you'll begin to see how the rest of the album makes sense. Or simply turn the volume up on the monumental and relentless reggae-sampling single “Out in the Streets”, which is already a club anthem, put aside analytical thought for four minutes and just marvel at how relevant and fresh electronic club music can still sound.

Listen to "Don't Fight It"

The music sounds like it's emerged from natural, living processes rather than arrangements of blocks on a screen


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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