TF Archives

Mark Pritchard - Artificial Intelligence

Author: Cyclone
Monday, March 2, 2009

Mark Pritchard may have made Sydney his home, but his latest album explores the sounds of the UK, Germany and Detroit, past and present. 3D’s Cyclone speaks to the Brit producer.

The Brit expat has issued When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence as Harmonic 313 on the fabled Warp – and it’s a Warp album through and through.

Pritchard has always been a chameleon and, fittingly, WMEHI moves from squelchy club tracks to spacey ambient to experimental hip hop. Another expat, Steve Spacek, sings.

Pritchard started producing in the early ’90s, establishing a high-profile partnership with Tom Middleton. He transplanted to Australia around four years ago to join his girlfriend. Pritchard has since successfully created his own identity in the Sydney scene, but not without difficulty. “When I first came here, I found it quite hard to find the right places to play ’cause I was known for doing a certain type of music,” he says, “but I always play what I’m interested in at the time. So, the first few times I played here, I was playing some early dubstep and hip hop, [but] the people booking me were maybe into stuff that I did in the ’90s – more house-based stuff. I think anywhere you go there’s people doing different styles of music that you may be into, but it takes time to find those people.”

Pritchard didn’t want to be like other UK expats who are dismissive, even patronising, towards Australians. He believes that they must be prepared to forge alliances and foster underground movements.

Regardless, Pritchard, never “a crowdpleasing DJ”, is content to play niche venues. “I’m lucky that, ’cause I produce music, I’m not as reliant on DJing to make money, so I can be a bit more hardcore about it.” The eclectic producer is expected to be a risktaker.

Harmonic 313 incorporates Detroit’s area code, but any techno influence is sublimated on WMEHI. Pritchard isn’t attempting to revive “soulful” techno but, bored with minimal, he would welcome its return. “I think, with my album, I was taking influences from [Detroit] and trying to do something different,” he says. “There’s hints of the fact that I was massively into Detroit techno back in the early ’90s, but a lot of that reference is just the sounds I’m using. I’m using the keyboards that they were using at that point, but I’m trying to do something at a slower tempo... Every now and again I’ll do something that has an old school flavour, but I’m trying to put something new into it.”

While these days Pritchard DJs on the dubstep tip, as a producer, he’s more fascinated with “UK bassline music” – the bass being the common denominator to jungle, two-step and broken beat. For him, dubstep is one facet of something bigger. “The album’s got that thread in it more than it has a dubstep influence, although I have been buying a lot of dubstep and playing it,” he explains. “[But] I love [dubstep]. It reminds me of when I was playing drum n bass back in the ’90s. It’s got the same excitement about it – and it’s also got the same openness to it where you can take it in any direction.”

WHO: Mark Pritchard
WHAT: When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence through Warp / Inertia
WHEN: Out now