MARK PRITCHARD: ? / The Hologram (Ho Hum Records)


Posted on Apr 14th 2009 10:01 pm

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Mark Pritchard: ? / The Hologram

? / The Hologram
Ho Hum Records 2009
02 Tracks. 11mins23secs
Format: Digital

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Most electronic musicians have some kind of signature sound – a crunchy clap/snare hybrid, or an acid synth squelch, perhaps. It’s something to signify to listeners that, even if the tracks we’re hearing are from a new pseudonym, it’s still the same person behind the controls.

Not so with Mark Pritchard. A member of Global Communication, Jedi Knights, Harmonic 33, and his recent solo project Harmonic 313 (just to name a few), Pritchard is a true sonic chameleon. The mellotron-heavy noir-museum feel of Harmonic 33 signifies little that it’s the same person who’s behind the lush ambient house of Global Communication or Harmonic 313’s bassy tech-hop. ?, Pritchard’s latest single – this time released under his given name for a change – throws yet another curveball. Abandoning the beats and pieces of the fresh Harmonic 313 full-length, When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence, ? is all foreboding atmosphere.

Harking back to Eno’s subtle and subdued ambient bubbles, there’s an undeniable thrill I feel every time I’m listening to ?, and I suddenly notice the track. It starts with a creepy Rhodes drone which seems to perfectly blend in with the industrial sounds of walking around a city, such that it can take up to half the track’s length for it to “out” itself as an intentional piece of music. Even when this happens, it’s still not exactly an explosion; Pritchard layers a few select Rhodes lines and warped Casiotone licks, before the piece fades out just as mysteriously as it began. Admittedly, my first impression was along the lines of “that’s it?,” but repeated listens have revealed the decaying, beautiful genius behind such a structure.

The Hologram is a more tangible B-side, bolstered by an actual beat. The atmosphere of late-night studio exploration remains, as The Hologram slowly paces itself through endlessly reverberated and echoing synthesizer squeals. The beat is all syrup, dripping down slowly through a booming sieve (here it’s also worth it to point out that the mastering is an extra claustrophobic treat). The end effect of The Hologram is a Harmonic 313-style dubstep single played at 33.

To be sure, ? / The Hologram is a curio in Mark Pritchard’s catalogue, and in terms of publicity, it’s taken a backseat to the 313 full-length and upcoming collaboration with Steve Spacek. It’s a testament to Pritchard’s creative prowess that he can knock out something so engaging as a side project. Fans of music that hits the intestines, the heart, and the mind with equal force would do well to seek this out.


Icon: arrow Mark Pritchard (MySpace) | Reload Online | Ho Hum Records
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Buy: MP3 | iTunes

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