Africa Hitech – 93 Million Miles (2011)
Coming from the same act who released the frenetic single Blen, 93 Million Miles could seem like a surprisingly meditative album. Only if you didn’t already know, though, about Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek: the two producers who comprise Africa Hitech. In guises like Troubleman and Harmonic 313, Pritchard has always taken an idiosyncratic approach to a multitude of genres (funk, Afrobeat, hip hop and way more). Spacek, meanwhile, worked with the late J Dilla and was also a third of the group Spacek, who produced sexy, sleek soul – best heard on their 2001 album Curvatia.
So Africa Hitech was always a project qualified to take you there. Blen landed from the leftfield, a knowing intervention on UK grime. It had said genre’s irascible energy, but was more sophisticated, referencing dancehall history while cleverly tweaking its bleep-riddled rhythms into a classic of alien ragga. As 93 Million Miles begins, underground club music is instantly relocated further back in the past, as tracks in the vein of Blen (Do U Wanna Fight, Glangslap) and a juke rework of Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock (Out in the Streets) are sandwiched between the title-track and Our Luv, which effortlessly integrate grime tropes and the kind of mesmeric production perfected by classic Detroit techno outfits Underground Resistance and Drexciya.
The Drexciya-sourced strain progresses in the reverberating hypnotism of Footstep, while grime dynamics are relinquished in Spirit, Light the Way and Cyclic Sun in favour of more traditional African beats, over which jazzy instrumentals dance in entranced circles. The whole effect feels like a spiritual trip back through dance and techno to the soul of Africa, concluding mellifluously with the balmy Don’t Fight It.
Africa Hitech have described themselves as being about an ‘ism’, an African connection between rhythm and machine. Running through everything they do is a vibe that exceeds genre, a captivating fusion of Pritchard and Spacek’s musical sensibilities. bbc