So it has been a long minute since I have conducted an interview, or a review for that matter, but in this case I was compelled due to a cornucopia of sounds coming from Eric Douglas Porter aka Afrikan Sciences.
Afrikan Sciences has put together a album that is an attack on the senses, one of the few people who chose to make music that does not focus a kick drum on the one or the backbeat on the two and four. Circuitous on Pan is what I would call an avant-garde LP that could someday in the future make its way into becoming a movie score. Really impressive use of sounds, full of many layers, meanwhile the arrangement moves around so subtly that your senses feel the difference but your eardrums are confused. So besides writing a review of the LP I wanted to see what makes Eric tick:
So where did it all begin? It meaning your love for making music.
Afrkian Sciences: It started in the crib, literally, well at home you know, pops was into music heavy like. I can remember him bumpin Eddie Harris and Les McCan, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the Beatles, and King Crimson. I remember that 21st Century Schizoid album cover bugged me the hell out. Later on in my youth, the pause tape loops were jumping off, then the Casio sk1, and then dj bug bit me and its been a wrap since then.
Sounds like a good introduction to music, did you take music lessons at somepoint in your life?
I took a few piano lessons as a child. Also I used to stick around the family church which had a piano there and I would spend hours just noodling. When I decided to pick up the bass, basically I was self-taught I Studied theory but for the most part I’ve been self taught.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Brooklyn, the Flatbush section to be exact, but then ended up moving down south to Alabama as a kid. I wound up going back and forth between the East and South throughout my childhood so it instilled in me what I like to call Roots (southern) and Culture( NYC).
What is your day job?
I’ve held down many jobs in my days, telephone man, cable guy, always something technical, right now music is my focus, day and night and raising my son, thats my full-time gig.
That’s cool I can respect the that, we all need a job to eat from time to time, really cool you are exploring your art and making a family. When did you first start using Ableton? Did you record any music before this, you have some old cds/dats/tunes laying around somewhere?
I started using Ableton early on around version 2 before they even implemented MIDI. And before that yeah there are tapes that go all the way back to 1989, there’s a trunk in storage somewhere
I have used Ableton with the APC-40 very sparsely but I think you have taking it to a new level. What is your mindset before starting a tune?
I try to approach music from an painters POV, here is my blank canvas ,will the colors insight movement? Will there be a sense of depth? What do the overlapping hues produce? Where is the focus? Calm or busy?
Nice very cool, I think it really shows in your work, the senses are really worked when I listen to your tunes. How you ever been interested in making more “traditional” tunes, like stuff with four on the floor kick drum?
I have some straight ahead stuff but more often than not, when I try to do that I wound up making a left somewhere. I do have some more dance floor friendly related stuff slated to come out this year under different aliases.
What do you hope to incorporate into your set up in the future?
I’d like bring in more hardware into my live rig, nothing over the top, I believe in getting more out of less, but there is certainly some gear out there that I lust over.
If money was not an object what gear would fulfill your gear lust?
A Moog System 55, would be the business, most of Dave Smiths stuff too like a prophet 12, a Korg Odyssey too, I can geek out all day about gear!
Would you be interested in working on developing some new controllers for Ableton?
No doubt, I think performing artist are in the perfect position to advise companies on what it is we feel would accommodate performances.
Do you think the album format is better for what you are presenting?
Tangible is always better in my opinion, it bonds the listener closer to the music.
Have you scored any film projects?
I haven’t done any features yet. Its on my bucket list. I’ve had a song or 2 featured in this or that but no scores yet.
When performing do you use different set ups?
I don’t perform with my full studio set up, i usually streamline it to Ableton Push, laptop , iOS devices, and a few other bells and whistles. I leave the Moog and bass at home.
What is the most minimal set up you could do a live set with and feel that you could express yourself?
I think its not far fetched these days to come off with an iPad and Korg Volca or 2, properly routed, you have all the necessary tools to rock.
Do you incorporate any hardware into your set up?
My Moog is indispensable, and Waldorf Streichfett, as I said earlier i got my eye on some other bits. What up Elektron?!? :-)
Yeah, the Elecktron stuff is super nice, I have my eye on that Octotrack. Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing more music from you in the future.
Now that we know a little bit more about Afrikan Sciences, let’s get to some music:
Two in the Chamber///Vibes began as disjointed percussion comes in, meanwhile many sounds in the background. A bass line arrives to add some meter to the tune. Polyrhythmic as the tune moves through time, the percussion sounds and sounds the synths keep moving forward into a wash, a palette of many things, the arrangement movement is very surprising.
Reddin Off///The meter here is more pronounced as a breakbeat dominates at first, the sound, suddenly more percussion drops as the full avante-garde experimental beats hit. Chords ring out in the background as the closed hihat keeps the tempo steady. Several kick drums steadily move around in a 180 degrees motion ,like taking a walk in a park with heavy thoughts on your mind.
Transient Authority///Beginning reminds me of some downtempo joints from the late 2000’s, with voices and sprinkling keys in the background. The snare is the most pronounce instrument here, the sound at some points are very dissonant, making good use of the word transient as a metaphor. Meanwhile a bass line sneaks around in the background as a fm synth becomes harsher as time goes by.
Evolved Twists///Shuffling beats begin to disorientate a listener, then soft melodies and harmonies step up as the calm before the storm. Followed by a base line and more melodies in a very straight swing, which is like an oxymoron, but the tunes pulls you into different directions.
Circuitous///Rolling drums begin as the bass bins rock, melodies and bass hit hard. At this point the most palatable tune so far in the album and my personal favorite. The melodies really speak to me as everything rolls forward, sounding deep like riding on a boat for open water fishing. Triangles come to change up the timbre for a bit.
Kae///Industrial sounds as the kick drums hit, dramatic stings sparsely play a melody. Which turns into a full melody and harmony as an acid line rides out in the background, the sounds is like a film score that leads up to a final showdown. Tense as the textures keep moving throughout the piece.
Feel///Piano riffs are abundant as the melodies hit and the time signature seems to switch, many sounds arrive and cause confusion to the eardrums. Meanwhile the kick pulsates as the sounds continue to swish around. The tune continues to develop as the melody changes, causing a bouncing sensation.
Swash///Jazzy riffs begin as the syncopation grows into many sounds. Super feeling here, as the broken beat breaks through into slightly dissonant chord tones. Seems like the entire frequency spectrum and note possibilities are full as the tunes moves through space.
The Image///A running synth sequence begin, giving a dystopian feeling as melodies rain out. Car racing is the main feeling of this track as the toms hit, they blend into the background as the synth sequence continues to modulate causing tension. Later ‘The Music is the Image’ is spoken and the tune swells like thick split pea soup.
Group Home Reality///8 bit reality, the drums are crunchy and the pad behind it is very fuzzy, meanwhile the tones become very dissonant. Causing some uncomfortable feelings. Very emotive, ufo sounding synths wobble around and then change in tone, force feeding your eardrums with waveforms.
Alibi II///Retro sounding synths make a melody line meanwhile the beat is broken and a flurry of waveforms are sounded with Jazzy syncopated chords in the background that is promptly joined by bass line, the chords cause a floating feel as the arrangement subliminally changes.
DBC///Strings lead into pulsating synth sounds, the kick drum never sounds on the one. A lead comes in, very fuzzy and sounds some long notes as the percussion picks up speed. The feel is of straight syncopation.
I’m asking you KB///Very interesting drum loop going to begin this tune, long synth lines come out cause great emotion and take attention away from the the loop. Later the synths open up creating resolution, as the main loop goes, subtle sounds move in and out.
Tell Me Who Like That(Beside Manner)///The adventure ends with a tune that is full from the beginning and offers a nice compliment of horns, strings, and effects. The beat continues to break as the it moves through time. The melody lines switches between strings and horns and aliens voices are garbled in the background. Yet with so much going on, the tune can be describe as majestic.
More info about Afrikan Sciences:
The term House has undergone many changes since its inception so many years ago. Splintering into many genres, deep house is born, also obscured throughout the years and really the one description should be; music that resonates with a listener’s soul.
Synapsis-013 holds true, in my opinion Miltiades laced up four tracks in whole named Outermost Sensitive Paranoia that combine textures of pads, rhythms, and arrangement that you will feel deep within your belly button.
d0.5u///The journey begins through a chord progression combined with shuffling percussion as the beats pulsates. More percussion joins, and the bass line comes to fill up the rhythm. Deep and warm the tune comes to life as the bass slowly modulates, the chords sing, and the kick drops out to introduce the synth stabs that rock as the last added element to the tune. Super deep!
outermost sensitive paranoia///Track two starts with more shuffling drums and syncopated pad lines. The broken beat creates and irregular feel that is equaled out when the bass line comes in. Later more synths lines join as the droning pad pulsates in the background. Creating a paranoia effect, causing heads bouncing and subtle twitches of the ear drums that feels most sensitive.
outpostofmercy///Side b starts with low frequency syncopated chord strikes and a crunchy kick drum. The kick drum takes over the attention and the rhythm commences to build with the percussion. More synths surprise the melee, and continue to beat as the synths sound until the end.
parrhesia///Ending the project, jumping kick patterns quickly begin as a chord progression strikes with deep intent. Intent that slightly changes as the the progressions opens up with more notes, meanwhile the track picks up intensity, staying steady and later an additional synth line comes in to modulate and pulsate over the top of the chords. Solid deepness is a great adjective for this tune.
Distributed by Crosstalk
Jazz and house newcomer Kareem Ali laces up Synapsis-012, at times some trumpet, some samples, but always solid beats and melodies as Synapsis Records presents his debut 12″; Nocturnal Respiration. Hailing from the NYC, Kareem composes eight tunes that show off his imaginative composing skills.
Can you feel it///The experience begins with jazzy chords and Kareem on the trumpet. The jazzy feelings continue as the trumpet sounds over the 7th chords.
Sands of Time///Synth melodies rain out as the beat drops and builds. A bassline appears for a second to provide a groovy intermission.
Flavor///Bouncing melodies begin as percussion strikes that leads into chords. Later voices filter into the background as another melody line sneaks into the mix.
Deep Space///Flowing arpeggiations begin as a bass line and other synth lines appear to cause a mystical swelling of sounds. No beats all heart.
In Orbit///The b side begins with crunchy beats and 7th chords. Trumpet notes ring out and flow, an B section quickly appears, and then right back to the A section.
Heart///Fast jazzy sample appears as the bpm is pushed up to give a nice flavor and variety to the vinyl. Short and sweet tune for the heads.
Solid///Classic drums start the action, quickly followed by arpeggiations and pulsating bass sound. Head knotting tune.
Portal///To end this this release, a bass sound begins and quickly joined by drums. The bass melody continues to ride in the forefront meanwhile supported by a vocal sample. Later a chord progression comes in and takes it deep.
Distributed by Crosstalk.
014 materializes on Machining Dreams, this time from Chicago Skyway who is rocking with a 6 track release called EP Fall Down. Five beat tracks and 1 deep house tune that has come to be Skyway’s signature sound over the years. Classic in the sense that beat tracks have formed the glue between styles in many djs bags. Skyway use of arrangement and familiar drum kits will sure to bring the nostalgia back to the djs who were in it before the technology revolution and interest to the djs who came after it. Let’s here the jack:
Fall Down///Begins with some familiar drums, sounds that turn into distinct Skyway patterns. Moving forward, the drum tracks morphs between hard and harder with this re-interpretation the feel of the EP is set.
Ride///Uptempo arpeggiations begin as the drums sound, beating the wolfer cones more signature Skyway patterns emerge. Sustained long synth notes break the monotony, as three elements rock and the clave becomes a main focus of the tune.
Ride3///Another retake, but different sounds and percussion, and added synth parts. This time four elements are rocking as the tune continues to weave in and out, the arrangement will be working dance floors near you soon.
Leaf///Old school beats come out, beat track galore is a perfect modifier for this tune. Moving through as the toms pulsate and the wood block strikes a synth sneaks up to speak the jack. Again, three elements rock here to make your head bob.
Mosquito///A crunchy synth line and kick drum began, as more percussion sounds, then another alerting synth line sounds as the tune moves forward and through the arrangement will make you sweat on the floor.
Praying Mantis///Ending the EP is the deep house sound, the tune begins with a shuffling feel as the toms take up the focus of the rhythm. Slowly, chords and a melody note appears to kiss a listener, then an acid line comes in to take over the tune, deeper and beating, the chords and melody line come back to retake the lead of the tune before making a decrescendo to the sounds of percussion from the beginning of this tune.
Distributed by Crosstalk
Synapsis rocks next with a full ep from G. Marcell called The Coming (Future). In this four tune project G. Marcell shows off his melodic skills with many nice melody and bass line phrases. The dance energy is non stop and as the ep progresses so does the deepness. Perhaps the future is all ready here, let’s listen to the the sonic waveforms.
Barbarix///A stuttering bassline begins the ep as the beat drops, melodic notes appear that starts to vary in note length. Percussion beats as toms hit in between the quarter notes. Sounding like the name with the rough and taking no prisoners textures.
Silent Rush///Next up is a tune where the tones stay in the higher note registers. The bass line is sneaky as the note timbre begin low and tail off to higher tones. Syncopation everywhere as the beat drops after a few intro phrases. Droning notes help to fill out the tune, later a chord progression opens up with new melody notes added, causing a nice B section. Banging percussion all the way through.
Warped Mind Structure (People)///Though the beat is 4/4 the elusion of a break beat is perceived as the toms syncopate. A deep bassline kicks in to anchor the beat. Even deeper chords come in afterward to emote feelings of the past. People can you feel this? The bassline subtly becomes more complex as time floats by.
DirtyAsDistortion///Ending this 12″ with another grimey bassline is very fitting, a manic bass rides as the kick hits. Notes drone at the top, then suddenly a string melody line comes in, adding feelings to the mix. But the melody only last a moment as the bass line beats only to re-appear again. Yeah work it out.
Four jams moving in unison to bang the box!
Distributed by Crosstalk
Murph Tone Jack Session Remixes have come up, I was planning to do a remix vinyl for at least a year. And finally the opportunity came up for me to get four reinterpretations from Chicago producers Chicago Skyway, G. Marcell, Ike Release, and Steven Tang. Their contributions expand the Jack Session with deep and rhythmic tunes that will rock from warehouse to boats.
Chicago Head (Chicago Skyway Remix)///The remix 12″ begins with hihats, melodies, and a train trip that explores the jack. Bouncing melodies accompany a story about life perceptions. The subtlies of the beats showcases Skyway’s drum programming.
Tender B (G. Marcell Tender Touch Remix)///The A side ends with classic G. Marcell percussion and drowning pads. Meanwhile the chords move in the background as a secondary broken kick pattern comes forth. The tune slowly builds and breaks as the kick drum pulsates.
Technicals (Ike Release Remix)///The B side begins with squelchy bass lines and some Murph Tone percussion sounds. Re-triggered percussion move around as the bass line continues to to tap the frequency spectrum to emotive rawness.
Tender B (Steven Tang Remix)///Ending the 12″ is a deep house jam that has the chord sound changed with a new bassline and string melody. Nice and deep is this tune.
Subtleties in music inspired the jack session album as the remixes follow this same ethos. This is the conclusion of the Murph Tone Jack Session.
Distributed by Crosstalk.
008 materializes from Spirit of the Black 808 with a “12 called Guerilla Shit. SB808 manifests three rough, rugged, and raw tunes in which the waveforms are stopping eardrums and woofers meanwhile experimenting but still staying true to the Chicago ethos. So we at Synapsis continue to push the underground music; hence guerilla shit!
King Kong///Percussion rings out while tom drums began as the focal point of the tune. The attention torch is passed when a detuned bass melody begins to ring out notes. Periodically vocals come and go for most of the journey while some bass staccato sounds augment the piece. This tune begins the EP with an eerie feeling as the melody line continues to articulate long and slightly dissonant notes.
Guerilla Shit///Raw percussion begins as toms bang and synth lines pulsate. Chords come in early to join the flurry momentarily. Vocals ring out as a brother tries to catch your attention. Jack mode grabs the soul as the track continues to groove. “Man, you just got hit with some Guerilla Shit!”
4dabrothasthatainthere///To finish off the EP we have the most experimental tune holding down the B side. Slowed down acid lines begin while a voice gives a shout out to the fallen brothers. Emotive chords sound as the percussion moves and moves. After each phrase new sounds and rhythms proceed to fill out the beat while a subbass plays in the lowest note registers. Meanwhile the acid line is steadily tweaking to provide a journey.
Distributed by Crosstalk.
The Sun God materializes some celestial beats into existence from the sun. Our sun is one of trillions in the universe and some say they are the evolution of souls. This alias by Jamal Moss continues to channel this energy into waveforms with a three track concept titled Root Frequencies Project. Tough tunes that channel beats, melodies, and rhythms that are typically celestial in nature. Sometimes harsh but always soulful and raw. That’s how we like it over here, so let’s get to the sound samples:
A1.Root Frequencies///Pulsating synths begin as crunchy drums roll on to support the flurry of melodies that appears. Polyphonic synths continue to rang as the arrangement develops and the percussion begins to pick up. There are much happenings in this tune as it runs for 13:00 minutes of crunchy textures.
B1.Memory Disruption///Jack mode in full effect, the tune starts in main swing as one synth is hitting on all the 16th notes within the beat. The drums are moving as that first synth falls into the background and a new string line appears to speak. The bassline comes in to complete the jack groove.
B2.Hashish///This last tune of the project which will definitely attack the senses. Vocals, flange, and toms are in the forefront as a b sections arrives with more percussion, more flange, and a distorted bass lick. Later variations of A and B patterns ring out as the song continues in this fashion with slightly more schizo-frantic movement until completion.
Distributed by Crosstalk.
It has been a minute since I have updated this space with a post, but I had to decompress from the EU trip. Overall the trip consisted of seven countries in little under two months. I rocked dj sets and live PAs as Innerspace Halflife. In the previous post Stockholm was rocked, so now we are back at our base in Berlin as we rock T Room session.
During the next week before I go to Brescia, Italy to play Disco Volante.
After experiencing Brescia for a short time, I drink some fine wine and home cooked food. Thinking about how special Italy is in general, I got to get down on some rotary knobs and snapped off.
I figured I would beat them down with the Jack, some official Chicago shit. Unfortunately none of my set was recorded but it will live on in the peeps in attendance minds. I ride back out to Berlin.
While in Berlin we take in some more history and culture before adding to the culture and rocking at the legendary club called Tresor.
This place is located in an old power station which is responsible for breaking in some of the earliest Techno djs to Europe.
I am still house though, however it was an honor to play this show in which I rocked the drum machine and played records…from here Hamburg awaits.
The Smallville crew welcomes us as we ride up north to rock a live PA.
Interesting place as we get to see more of regular Germany and not the enigma called Berlin. The people were very receptive as we closed down the Golden Pudel at 7am on a Thursday night. The Hamburg party people know what’s up as we rocked the live beats for them.
Berlin is calling again for a few days as I finish recording an album called Reverse Digital Files and Paris comes into the mix.
In Paris, we got to play records at one of the hottest parties in France. Concrete was off the hook as hundreds of people checked out the set and got down.
Paris is definitely full of flavor, with people from all over contributing to the mix. Young inspired artists exists everywhere as we make way through Paris soaking in the intensive art and culture.
Seeing this beautiful city we were in for another treat as we train it to Bordeaux.
Laid back chilled Bordeaux accepted us with open arms as we shared much food, wine, and culture. Again we got to play records on the iBoat and rock a live PA at Bootleg.
Young generation of party people was there to check us out. The spot was rocked as we made our way up to Manchester.
The north English kick it hard, arriving here we had to go straight to the venue and sound check. However once the party got going it was an Innerspace Halflife take over. There were two PA sessions and two record playing sets involved, we did not leave that party until late morning and people were still going.
Whoa is all I have to say, as the Mancunians like there baselines hard and dirty. Me to, me too. Berlin is calling again.
We rock StudioR and then I rock Prince Charles for Soulmate.
Meanwhile I take in the German culture and partake in eating some döner amongst other German eats. Going out to a few parties and meeting with some peeps I then make my way to Bucharest which is trippy.
The Romanians also know how to get down and party. It is a most peculiar place because of the feral dog situation. Though they are regularly scenery to the locals I however am always astonished when I see these packs. The party was great and met up with some nice friends as I got to rock a proper club. Berlin is calling again…
Learning much about German culture I realize I need to take some German classes and get some real practice, this is a nice thought. I then think of this long last leg of the trip. London is next for a week.
It is very cold and heat comes when Innerspace Halflife comes in to rock Boiler Room, which was a pleasure to say the least. We shared the stage with some serious producers and live acts. It was a solid experience.
Then we rock a dj set at the NTS station for the radio show, banging tunes all Innerspace Halflife.
Later we make another attempt to take over the Dance Tunnel with a live PA and dj sets. Meanwhile taking in all the culture. Amsterdam comes up next as we are winding down.
Not knowing what to expect but realizing that Dutch people have to be one of the tallest groups of humans alive we come here for one day to rock Club Up.
Very bizarre times but met some great people all the while. Rocking a live PA then we take the train through Belgium to rock our last show in Paris.
There is little time to spare as we take in some more French culture before we go to our last event. Batofar is in south Paris and is banging boat party. Feeling lucky to be back in beautiful Paris as we end with a serious live PA session.
After an amazing time and getting some chops on the International stage our trip comes to and end. I met lots of wonderful people and touched and was touched by many people and much music. Must say it was a life changing event, hope to do it again some day.
So first time up north to Stockholm, where it was snowy cold, yet super organized as we took Innerspace Halflife there to bang the Swedes’ eardrums at Under Bron!
Done with stop one, making tunes in the dance music party capital octal led Berlin! More later….