It pays to heed recommendations. Today I clicked on an artist that my last.fm decided I should hear. Afrikan Sciences turned out to be a grand adventure, filling my Saturday afternoon with some kind of space-age techno funk. I fell in love.
I’ll get this out of the way: I love this album, Circuitous, already. It combines so many favorite elements in a fresh way: weird jazz, alien techno, Afrofuturism, synthesizers, sci-fi atmospherics, and a radical approach to percussion and rhythm. Most of all, I’m reminded of a purely instrumental cousin of visionary hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, one of my favorite projects on earth – and creators of the best album of 2014.
The titular single is easily one of the most approachable tracks on the lengthy album, but perfectly showcases the quicksand-shifting drum sampling and humming analog synthesizer patches. It’s only a hint of how far deep the material goes. Try for yourself; click play below:
Afrikan Sciences – aka Eric Douglas Porter – might share more texture and tone with out-there electronic artists like the warmly uncompromising Autechre or prime 90s-era Carl Craig, but the structures ring with the echo of Sun Ra‘s interstellar excursions in the 1960s and 70s. The percussion winds up and races in fits and starts, rarely settling into a comfortable groove for long. When it does lock into some pure rhythm, the chilly atmosphere ensures you don’t get too relaxed.
This is fundamentally groovy music that nonetheless keeps you on your toes for the entire 80 minute duration. There are surprise shifts in tone, diversions into prismatic clouds and dark hallucinations.
There’s an odd sticking point about this discovery: I came SO close to hearing the album last year, but failed to do so. Ciruitous was released by incredible German label PAN, right around the time that the label’s very own KOCH (Lee Gamble) became one of my favorite albums of 2014. After just two listens, I feel confident saying that this album would likely have shared a place on that list.
For fans of: Aphex Twin, Actress, sci-fi movies, weird beats, and yeah Sun Ra, or Ornette Coleman even.