Studying Afrikan Sciences

A few months ago, I saw Holly Herndon mention something on Twitter about an act called Afrikan Sciences and a song called “Circuitous” being pretty cool. I listened, I liked, and tried to remember to keep an ear out for the upcoming release. Some time later, I had naturally forgotten about the Tweet and the listening experience but saw that PAN had a new release from Afrikan Sciences: I listened, I liked, and then “Circuitous” came on and I was like DUH I KNOW THIS FUTURE MUSIC.

The act is from music veteran Eric Douglas Porter and is his third full length release and his first on PAN. When reading about him and his sound, you learn that he inhabits an aesthetic at the center of a triangle composed of faraway jazz, deep house, and science fiction tales. “Circuitious” is the best introduction to this world: it’s a chatty drum set based song that sets itself up for rocketing into outer limits but instead eases into a bassy synth as lead vocalist and artificial cascading bells. There’s a very delicate interplay between the tactile drumming and the almost intangible electronic sound.

That song in particular has the power to daze in its minutia but the release of the same name—Circuitous—features a few bright spots: “Two In The Chamber” has a similar balance of heavy and light; “Evolved In Twists” hits the more classical jazz demands; “The Image” may as well accompany the scenery for space travel; and “Feel” plucks itself along, whirs and electrical chattering competing with delightful staccato.

You may be confused on first listen as the sound can be quite dense. It isn’t quite rhythmic nor is it directly musical in the sense of being strict jazz: it’s an electronic other very necessary in the landscape right now (and what PAN does an effective job of displaying). You may have a tough time with “Group Home Reality”; yet, you should rest with it, letting its sonic description articulate the everyday psych ward he’s expressing.

If you’re already familiar with the album, cool: now you can move on to listen to his recent FACT Mix, which came out in early January. It’s a full hour of eerie post-jazz.

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