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7 June 2011

Africa HiTech: 93 Million Miles (Warp)

Africa HiTech is the ultra-smart collaboration between electronic producers Mark Pritchard (Harmonic 313, Troubleman, a numerous other aliases and projects) and Steve White (a.k.a. Steve Spacek). This meeting of the minds yields some pretty fantastic and varied results. In fact, the variety on 93 Million Miles would be distracting if the sounds didn’t complement themselves so well, marrying different styles and sensibilities in vibrant harmony. There is a draw from tribal polyrhythms as well as traditional dub, but just as much there are references to grime and hip hop, minimal techno and breakbeat as well as even a tinge of singer-songwriter on a few tracks. The production is clean and balanced, allowing sounds to breathe in the mix; there’s no furious dubstep snarl to be found here, which allows me to breathe a sigh of relief. “Spirit” makes more obvious references to African influences with its layered hand drumming and more organic polyrhythmic sound, but as a healthy counterpoint there are some synthy weird ones to be heard here too, such as the bulbous and wet mix of “Future Moves” or the monotone computer vocal of the title cut that kicks things off. “Cyclic Sun” veers into a slightly more jazz direction, incorporating saxophone and odd stereo percussion tracks alongside woodwind arrangements, but yet again there is contrast, with a track like “Footstep” serving up a dose of bleeping, frenetic Zomby-esque synth patterns. Vocals, human or synthesized, break up the playlist nicely, often in fragments or phrases rather than lyrics necessarily, but still giving it a human touch at times that is welcome. “Don’t Fight It” is a really handsome closer to the album, yet another sound in the melange, combining White’s sleepy vocal with a relaxed shuffle beat and generous spring reverb, making the leap from dub to techno and back with what appears to be relative ease. It’s scattered in a way that shouldn’t work, but it does, and surprisingly well. It’s grown on me since I started listening, and has made its way into regular rotation. Recommended for those interested in the continually evolving post-dubstep sound, as colorful and multi-faceted as its cover art.

Buy it: Bleep | iTunes | Bent Crayon | Amazon | Boomkat

Get a free download of “Glangslap” on Africa HiTech’s website

Africa Hitech – Sampler by Warp Records

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