- 2013 is the year that Mark Pritchard has finally decommissioned his bristling armoury of pseudonyms—Harmonic 313, Troubleman, Africa HiTech (with Steve Spacek), etc—pledging to operate solely under his birth name. Given the cross-stylistic stew that currently constitutes UK dance music, it's hard to think of a better time for him to have done so. Lock Off is the second in a trio of EPs for Warp and, as with Ghosts before it, sees Pritchard borrow from footwork, hip-hop and jungle to concoct a series of bold, party-ready hybrids.
It's an excellent idea on paper but, echoing its predecessor, the resultant tracks are often less than compelling. House-jungle crossbreed "1234" is the requisite vocal number, though if we're making comparisons, the Ragga Twins' rowdy patter feels a little ponderous compared to Spikey Tee's acerbic performance on Ghosts highlight "Manabadman." "Ghetto Blast" is a southern rap-rave monster, its distended halftime beat harried by acrid blasts of rave-spray. It's smart, as transatlantic mongrels go, but pretty fatiguing on the ear.
The title track bears all the trappings of ragga jungle—crusty sampled patois, digi-sirens, flatulent dub bassline—but gets stuck in some sort of 150 BPM holding pattern. Eventually some breakbeats show up, but they sit soft-edged and low in the mix, as if Pritchard forgot to flick off the safety on his Akai. It's not until "Soundboy Fuck Off" that we achieve lift-off. Its metallic hits and gun-cocks recall Jam City's post-grime constructs, but Pritchard plugs the gaps with masterful breakbeat choppage and glutinous rave stabs. The result is, as the cliché goes, both highly contemporary and joyously retro—fortunately it's a banger, too.
A1 1234 Feat Ragga Twins
A2 Ghetto Blast
B1 Lock Off
B2 Soundboy Fuck Off