Africa Hitech 93 Million Miles
To date, the pairing of Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek as Africa Hitech has been an odd one, with the duo previously dropping two EPs on Warp of prickly robofunk hopelessly tangled up in disparate influences. It's a thicket so obscured that it's hard to figure out what, if anything, to call this music, and the duo's debut album, 93 Million Miles, doesn't get us any closer to the answer. Pritchard and Spacek filter all sorts of ideas and structures through their uptempo dance machine, tickling the Chicago-inspired title track with a downpour of phased handclaps, placing elegant string melodies on top of stomach-churning basslines on "Spirit," and exploring sunburnt vocoder grime with "Do U Wanna Fight," a song in which gaudy, synthetic cello stabs duel with blown-speaker snares and bursting bubbles of throbbing LFO. Best of all is their carved-in-stone take on massive, towering juke, as "Out on the Street" quakes mightily in staccato waves of sub-focused energy, its instantly recognizable vocal sample blurring into a screeching alarm. The duo's immaculate production occasionally comes off as academic and stuffy, however, and when their grooves aren't cooking, they tend to plod along lifelessly. The problem is exacerbated on two experiments with slower tempos: the robot elegy "Our Luv" and closer "Don't Fight It," which both recall old, tribal-esque Cadenza grooves, only with all the fun sucked out. That said, over most of the album, Africa Hitech's quirky sound is rarely less than intriguing, and these expert musicians offer up some impressive synthesis.
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