A third, sprawling double LP from Eric Porter Douglas’ Afrikan Sciences, and his first for PAN. Jim’s review describes this man as a “rhythm visionary” -- hard to contest with even a cursory listen to Circuitous. On CD and vinyl, some seductive, minimal artwork, and fourteen tracks from New York via all kindsa sonic places.
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- Circuitous by Afrikan Sciences
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The man behind the Afrikan Sciences alias, Eric Douglas Porter, has built a reputation in electronic music as something of a rhythm visionary, an innovator who manages to fuse the kinetic pulse of house and electro with the fluid spontaneity of jazz. True to that reputation, this sprawling LP features an abundance of idiosyncratic rhythm experiments paired with an equally questing use of melody and atmospheric textures. In many ways his approach reminds me of Jamal Moss (aka Hieroglyphic Being) in that, apart from the fact that they’re both obviously schooled in Afro-futurist aesthetics, their respective production styles sound so open and free; feverishly taking risks with their material to reach sublime levels of complexity. It’s an approach that serves as a refreshing antidote to the excessively refined sound design of a lot of so-called IDM.
The album covers a lot of ground, constantly moving and blending styles, atmospheres and emotional referents. The opener here ‘Two In The Chamber’, nicely sets the tone for what comes later. It begins with some field recordings of mystical rattles and exotic microtonal harp-like string runs, all panned for psychedelic effect while a dreamily exploratory electric piano forms the atmosphere. Then we get the pulse of an African tinged house rhythm, but with the kick playing an offbeat- just to keep you in your toes. Over this a deep, abstracted bassline slides as the piano is ghosted by some interstellar synth rays- before it all comes to an unexpectedly sudden finale.
There are times on the album when the fusion of disparate elements is a bit baffling and other times when, like when two very different personalities meet, the fusion is a bit tense and scary at first but generates a special magic when they somehow work together. A good example of that would be my immediate fave track ‘DBC’, which couples a Seefeel-esque exalted loop with an unusual beat that is then swamped with a cosmic synth lead that raises everything to a spiritual oneness- or at least something that gives that impression.
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