Harmonic 313, When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence (Warp)

What happens When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence? A Speak & Spell grabs the mic, and all sorts of glitchy goodness takes place.
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With Harmonic 313, Mark Pritchard—the man who has had a hand in acts such as Global Communication, Jedi Knights and Vertigo—is out to deconstruct what he''s done before and reassemble the pieces into austere songs that bare their raw elements. Present are traces of hip-hop, electro and dubstep in the rhythms, but rather than break, the beats trundle along on egg-shape wheels to create uneasy pace that''s settled only by a generous supply of bass. Whether sent in waves like in “Cyclotron” or subtly bouncing beneath everything like with “Köln,” the bass lines tether Pritchard''s eclectic notions. A Speak & Spell takes the mic on the approachable “Word Problems,” but the album''s most accessible moments come from the less-robotic guests. Detroit MCs Elzhi and Phat Kat throw verses on “Battlestar,” and on “Falling Away,” Steve Spacek aids the haunting trip-hop mood. Those quality exceptions stand out from the more abstract compositions, but Pritchard actually sounds more comfortable when free of convention, having fun with out-of-shape rhythms and turning familiar styles inside out. [3.5 out of 5 stars]