Release Date: May 13, 2016
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Since 1991, Mark Pritchard has preferred to operate as an invisible hand behind UK’s experimental electronic movement. Like fellow Warp label mates and West County citizens Tom Middleton and Richard D. James, Pritchard drew from the same habits of fearlessness, focusing on the freedom found in their gadgets and instruments restricted only by the absence of an imagination.
Discerning an aesthetic thread through the Mark Pritchard discography was tough in 1996. Twenty years later, forget it. Around 2013, he evidently tired of thinking up a new alias with each expectation-confounding release and, under his birth name, initiated a trio of brief releases for the Warp label. Featuring drop-ins from Ragga Twins and Spikey Tee, the fully energized EPs moved through jungle, bass, juke, ragga, and grime.
XLR8R profiled Mark Pritchard back in 2013, right at the time that the Australian-based artist announced that he would retire his monikers—including Harmonic 313, Africa HiTech (with Steve Spacek), Global Communication (with Tom Middleton), Link, and Troubleman, among much more—and operate under his given name. It was a bold move, especially considering the fame and notoriety that most of those aliases received, but one that allowed him to consolidate and hone in on a sound that would encompass his many styles. Since then, besides an untitled white label under the MP banner, all of his records have landed on the UK-based seminal imprint Warp Records: 2013’s trio of EPs Lock Off, Ghosts, and Make a Living, as well as a three-way split EP—with Bibio and Clark—titled A Badman Sound/Heath Town/Inf Inf Inf Inf.
When Mark Pritchard first released "?," that question mark made perfect sense. It was 2009, and the track—six somber minutes of gelatinous, pitch-black drones and a doleful, harpsichord-like synth melody—didn't sound like anything else he had ever done. And that's saying something, because Pritchard has done a lot: Between his time in iconic early-'90s groups like Global Communication, Jedi Knights, and Reload, plus an array of solo aliases including Harmonic 313 and Troubleman, the UK producer made ambient, electro, house, acid, instrumental hip-hop, and broken beat, among other styles and hybrids.
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.
Mark Pritchard’s beautiful and tantalisng ‘Under The Sun’ continues his interest in expansive, long-form productions that defy single genre classifications. At its heart, the record is ambient-leaning folk, with each track unfurling into the next with almost tear-inducing dramatic builds. There’s the added bonus of guests including Bibio, Thom Yorke and Linda Perhacs, who each contribute their own distinct styles to the album.Like pianist Erik Satie or Brian Eno, Pritchard is a master of maintaining atmosphere while threading in minimalist compositions with vocals.
Initially, the absorbing textures of Under the Sun seem to belie Mark Pritchard's standing as a dance music icon. Since the early '90s, the British-born, Australian-dwelling producer has played an instrumental part in bringing beats of all shapes and sizes to the masses..