Afrikan Sciences – Circuitous


Afrikan Sciences


1 December 2014 (PAN)

By Patrick DeBonis

Circuitous – 1) having a circular or winding course,

         2) not being forthright or direct.

            When I get into a car I have a decisive destination I am heading and I go about it in the most linear fashion possible. On foot I become even more direct, cutting across yards or going down alleys. Essentially meandering is not the name of the game, being circuitous is not a practical thing. When it comes to music, arriving at the conclusion in the most predictable fashion is something commonly avoided. Eric Douglas Porter, who works under the name Afrikan Sciences, builds his sonic landscapes in an ever-spiraling arc making the ending as obsolete and meaningless as possible, far beyond the normal surprise false ending.

Porter is renowned for his production, being hailed for having a retro and futuristic sound simultaneously, but his signature style derives from the complex, African-influenced, polyrhythmic beats. Rhythm is becoming an increasingly important characteristic of computer music, pushing far beyond the reaches of human capability. Footwork in particular relies on the intricate shifting of the rhythm and beat, using patterns that move out of the comfort of 4/4 time. Another strong surge in rhythmic importance is the rise of the use of traditional beats. In many areas of the world artists are marrying computer music with the rhythms of their culture and region. Porter happens to be particularly successful with it.

Circuitous incorporates the methodical and repetitive nature of both house music and African drumming. Both influences rely on a droning feel that is immensity easy to get lost in, and – quite expectedly – complement each other exquisitely. Porter meticulously constructs a dream world to get lost in. During any given track, much like a dream, there is no sense of how you arrived to that particular moment. You try and remember when the song started or how long you have been listening to it, but there is really no singular aspect to ground it in reality. Any change is subtle, or so well disguised, that associating a particular fragment of sound to the beginning or end is impossible.

The starch detachment of time applies to the album as a whole. At just around 78 minutes, Circuitous is on the longer side for computer music albums, but it feels much shorter and travels by unseemly fast.

Porter’s use of intricate rhythms is mirrored by the diversity of his sounds. Using nonconventional house sounds, the distinctive drumbeats appear in all shapes and forms. Circuitous would not have been able to defy a sense of time without the crucial use of rhythm, and thus it sheds light on one of the infinite directions computer music can take.

Rating: Liked It


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