ALBUM REVIEW // Africa HiTech – 93 Million Miles
The full transcript of Africa HiTech’s 93 Million Miles review. Completed more than a month ago, it was gathering virtual cobwebs and dust due to foreseen circumstances. Alas read on below……
‘It Began In Afrika’ so said the brothers of a chemical disposition. A continent from which civilization emanated before the overarching mass jigsaw that was Pangaea detached into it’s respective pieces. Arguably the epicentre of music, It’s seismic trajectory tightly draped around the vernacular is felt from Buenos Aires to Brisbane via Bujumbura.
In the digital age, music is readily consumed and discharged in a fashion not to dissimilar to a petite model eating a hamburger (and so on and so forth). On the other hand, there are rare figures that invest in eclectic enterprise providing a bond between the analogue and digital. Africa HiTech is one such project between all-encompassing distorted bass beatsmith Mark Pritchard (whose also released material as Harmonic 313 and a whole series of aliases) and the soultronica vocalist and producer Steve White (of Spacek fame)
Released on the integral Warp Records, 93 Million Miles is the debut LP from the duo based down under and is also noted as the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Astronomical by name and equally boundless by nature on this eleven track cosmic escapade.
On title track ’93 Million Miles’ the shuddering beat ethic and pulsating strings sit firmly at home with glitch and techno sensibilities to soundtrack an epic intergalactic voyage. ‘Do U Wanna Fight’, begins horn parps similar to Sukh Knight’s Diesel Not Petrol. That’s where the similarity ceases on one of the best fine tuned riddims on an LP. Harmonized ’intergaltois’ is professed vehemently bringing callous energy on a bumping syncopated breakbeat and subterranean bass evoking the junglist aesthetic.
The most recognisable track for the dilettante is signalled by an Ini Kamoze sample and notably worn by Damian Marley on ‘Out In The Streets’. The key reggae snippet wraps itself around a scattering DJ Roc-esque filling which has the duo persist in producing hybrid juke in the methodical vein of bass luminaries such as Ramadanman and Addison Grove. A terse bell refrain; staunch warped bass stomps and crisp claps on ‘Future Moves’, induces visions of Sidewinder era Dizzee spitting 16’s and Wiley- an exponent of Eskibeat in it’s rawest element producing refined cuts shrouded in the light rather than submerged in Hade’s dark cavern.
Cross-rhythm is a principle grounded in the pastime of West African music, with secondary beats layered atop of a primary pattern and is often misinterpreted as the fundamental part. Pritchard and White have interspersed this practice effortlessly in abundance with reggae, house and dubstep (not forgetting the glut of subgenres) on the LP. Acknowledged further by the imperious Simon Reynolds who proclaimed “the link to African drumming and it’s emphasis on poly-rhythms (another term for cross-rhythm) cannot be ignored”
The longest track ‘Our Luv’, clocks in at just over eight minutes but the calculated arpeggiated synth texture; dancehall like snares and elegant soundscape make for a capacious cacophony that is minimalistic in the mind, yet futuristically funk in spirit. The sporadic female ‘bot sample of “our love everlasting/always be together” exemplifying the eternal bond of a nomadic spaceman and his ladyfriend on Earth. ‘Spirit’ and ‘Light The Way’ are both bereft of visas but bypass immigration and pay homage to the African continent. The former stirs up the political poignancy of Afrobeat with a syncopated drum reprise preceded by shekere rattles and hushed choral chants sung by a poor man’s Al Taylor in the deepest flora of Congo. Whilst, the latter is another highlight on 93 Million Miles that works around a Sun Ra vocal and contributes a jazz hallmarked riddim akin to the stirring inventory of Deep Medi alumni Silkie.
Effervescent ‘Don’t Fight It’ is one of the few moments of respite before Michelle McManus sings (don’t fret, she’s had an excess of palatable microphones and is suitably well fed) Warm, rising subbass serves as an undercurrent to the woodblock percussive stem and this leisurely ode is firmly at one with reggae ‘sensibilities’.
You could be forgiven for assuming 93 Million Miles veers off a safe trail determined to shove anything and everything up it’s nozzle like a coked up Noo Noo still coming to terms with the end of Teletubbies. However, it’s not to blotch an adventure that embodies flowing invention and experimentalism at the very core.
The Inner Functionalist professes music rather like most objects to be part of an organic process personifying elements of our upbringing and external matters that are the embodiment of what we call life. Simple as it may seem and more importantly reverberate. Africa HiTech are a couple still enjoying an extended honeymoon. Even better…we’re invited.