- Released by Warp, Mark Pritchard's first album under his given name follows records from Brian Eno and Bibio and a soundtrack from Clark. Incidentally, those releases offer a decent primer for Under The Sun, which applies ambient, folk and cinematic tropes to heaps of electronics over a circuitous and enchanting 67 minutes. And, in order to fully enjoy its transportive properties per Pritchard's design, it deserves your attention for the entirety.
Zeroing in on Under The Sun's individual elements makes its range instantly apparent. The transitions between tracks feel just as important as the tracks themselves, floating from one frame to the next or bleeding into each other. With "Infrared" and "Falling," tough-nut EBM, bristling with feedback and drums, segues into weightless synth modulations, which drift into the woozy electronica of "Beautiful People" with Thom Yorke. Such genre leaps should be jarring, but Pritchard lands them with ease.
Under The Sun's prevailing sentiment is a kind of folksy fantasy, mobilised by contributions from Yorke, Bibio and Linda Perhacs. Worlds apart from Pritchard's club-based music, those three songs offer some of the album's most emotive moments. "The Blinds Cage," a spoken word piece with Beans, sits in stark contrast to the effeminate, romanticised voices that come before it. The song's angular, dissonant composition makes it more of an outlier in the album's buttery second half. But "Hi Red" might be the most disruptive of the lot, unsettling the introspectiveness of "Cycles Of 9" and "Ems" with playful nonsense.
It's not until the end that the album delivers a proper beat, albeit a pillowy one. "Under The Sun" closes things on a chopped-up Julie Andrews sample, providing a tenuous link back to Pritchard's hip-hop-influenced bass project Harmonic 313. Under The Sun is unlike anything he's done prior, but it has the most in common with Harmonic 313's When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence. Though Pritchard has swapped out that album's Detroit-isms for guitars and softer soundscapes, the same sort of nonconformism extends across both records. Under The Sun isn't the major departure that it seems on the surface, but rather a pleasant detour through mythical, imagined landscapes.
02. Give It Your Choir feat. Bibio
05. Beautiful People feat. Thom Yorke
06. Where Do They Go, The Butterflies
07. Sad Alron
08. You Wash My Soul feat. Linda Perhacs
09. Cycles Of 9
10. Hi Red
12. The Blinds Cage feat. Beans
13. Dawn Of The North
15. Rebel Angels
16. Under The Sun