Harmonic 313 When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Succeeds in constructing a plausible dystopian future world out of its constituent parts.

Colin Buttimer 2009

When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence documents the aftermath of a collision between sleek Detroit techno (313 is that city's area code) and the pedestrian body of hip hop. The result is a dirty, splintered cyborg lit by flashes of electrical current and alien rage. Lo-res synths accompany beats that march forward like a victorious robot horde. The title of third track No Way Out says it all - Harmonic 313 shows no mercy, join the march or be crushed underfoot.

Given the moniker, this project could easily be confused with Harmonic 33. Both are the brainchild of Mark Pritchard aka Reload, Global Communications et al, but Harmonic 33's take on library music makes for a very different outcome. Where that project was apparently benign in intent, When Machines... transforms a supposedly cute gizmo like a Speak and Spell machine into an implacable teacher: utterly remorseless in its enunciation of lyrical grist. The hip hop influence is at its most overt on Battlestar which sees guest Phat Kat and Elzhi declaim to harsh effect. Falling Away is the surprise exception to the rule - with its mournful soul vocals it adds a brilliant touch of humanity and pathos to the mix.

Music Substitute System states that, "music is now a thing of the past" in gentle feminine tones that recall One Very Important Thought, the outro to Boards of Canada's masterpiece, Music Has The Right To Children. Both projects reference the 1970s, the era of Logan's Run, Asteroids and 2000AD but Harmonic 313's music instead recalls the harsh tones of sub-aquatic documenters Drexciya. Draconian and eerily implacable, When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence succeeds in constructing a plausible dystopian future world out of its constituent parts.

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