Under the Sun
Albums of the Year 2016 No: 4
Rough Trade Exclusive 10 track 12"
Mark Pritchard releases Under The Sun via Warp Records. His first solo album in five years, boldly re-establishes what an 'album' can mean at this point in time. Designed to be listened to in one sitting, Under The Sun achieves what most albums aim for but rarely achieve - perfect synergy. Where the potential of the sum of the parts, the individual tracks, resonate even more fully when experienced as part of the whole album. Under The Sun is one story told in chapters and, as with any good story, the spell is only maintained if you don't skip to the end. Pritchard, as usual, defies easy categorization and that is what gives depth and nuance to this work. He draws on the sounds and influences genetically coded in his musical DNA; ambient, nu-wave, avant-garde electronics and folk; but re imagines them through an otherworldly filter that cements Under The Sun somewhere in the future, rather than the past. This is a personal work, innovative and brave from the opening drone of ? to the delicate bass-heavy ambience of the closing title track, Under The Sun. It's an emotional exploration but without ever becoming manipulative. In every moment there is space for the listener to imagine and project their own meaning, allowing it to become more subjective and more intimate with each listen. Recalled memory is an important theme here and a sense of the English West Country of Pritchard's youth echoes through the album. Certain musical moods recur, particularly a kind of tonality that he half-seriously refers to as "medieval", a way with chords and melodies, and also a sense of storytelling, that most obviously comes through the psychedelic influences on the Thom Yorke and Linda Perhacs collaborations Beautiful People and You Wash my Soul. Each song evokes a different sensibility, the classic Global Communication style space voyaging of EMS and Sad Alron, can sit alongside the dark poetry and vintage avant-garde synthesis of The Blinds Cage with Beans from Antipop Consortium, and the tropicalia and Beach Boys influences of Bibio, all on the same record.