Harmonic 313 - When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence

Harmonic 313 - When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence

There is an attitude and a depth to these songs that can be explored further upon repeat listens.


‘Music is now a thing of the past,’ announces a robotic voice near the middle of Harmonic 313’s excellent full-length ‘When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence’, and upon hearing a statement like that, the listener is immediately forced to ask themselves what exactly they’re listening to if it’s not music. And perhaps that is the point of Mark Pritchard’s ambitious new project, to confront the sonic boundaries of music and the direction that it’s heading in the future. But there are as many elements of the history of music found in the songs on this record as there are clues about the sound of what lies ahead.

The album is replete with hints of the b-boy sound of early 80s hip-hop, as well as nods to both techno and drum ‘n bass, all the while maintaining the feel and texture of a very contemporary record. As with most electronic music, there are definite moods created by the various sounds of each song, and this record features very dark, bass heavy soundscapes that can take the listener down both an empty city street at night as well as a plane flight to a tropical island. The music allows space enough for all of that and then some, as the beats and blips have both a soul and a spirit that gives the music an energy that is very present and real. Whether it is the dark, foreboding introduction of ‘Dirtbox’ or the futuristic space-disco of ‘Cyclotron’, this album has plenty of style and substance, all the while maintaining an airy sense of distance and cool detachment. The space for the listener to get lost in on this record is vast, even while the music remains enigmatic and dense.

The underlying hip-hop element of this record is manifested by the guest appearance of MC’s Phat Kat & Elzhi on the Wu-Tang-sounding banger ‘Battlestar’, and unfortunately the duo’s rhymes prove not to be as stellar as the beats. And other tracks on the record could just as easily be instrumental tracks on a pretty fresh hip-hop record, but as such, they form a different entity all-together, and the album is all the better for it. The only other track on the record with vocals, ‘Falling Away’ featuring Steve Spacek, works a bit better, but the addition of vocals gives the songs a bit more of a present feel to them, as opposed to the often futuristic sound that Pritchard is striving for.

‘When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence’ is yet another successful addition to Mark Pritchard’s ever growing catalog of innovative and avant-garde music, one that could be played easily over a leisurely stroll around town as well as a full club on a Saturday night. There is an attitude and a depth to these songs that can be explored further upon repeat listens. And while the record claims that ‘music is a thing of the past,’ this record is assuredly a glimpse into both the history and the future of sound.