Production legend, accomplished live electronic musician, and inspiration and friend King Britt has been deep in his lab again. So hop in the polyrhythmic time machine, as you may want to set its controls to “loop.”
King has long been a pillar of Philadelphia and the East Coast scene. While he made his name in the clubs, he’s also fluidly blended that dancefloor vibe with experimentalism and sci-fi trips. (I once had the privilege to see an extended live tribute to Sun Ra in the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden.) It’s nice to see the avant-garde edge under his main moniker. But do go back and check the Fhloston Paradigm platform – that’s been not only his own experimental artistic project, but also a jumping-off point for artists like Nosaj Thing, Ryat, Moor Mother, Pia Ercole … and the list goes on.
In fact, if you need a bit of inspiration for how to remake the music scene in a way that’s more supportive of experimentation, unknown artists, live playing, community connections – and you know, like, not a dystopian and uninteresting commercial gentrified enclave – King is a great place to look. But that’s none of my business.
So this month, we get this two-track, extended EP gem. “Back 2 Black” is a great, organic, chilled track. But “Too Shay” to me is a stand out of all of King’s space oddities, which he regularly labels afro-futurism. The track is just perfect, cycling grooves, in friendly unadorned electronic sound. See what you thin, but I sure don’t want it to stop.
King says this is “time travel through polyrhythmic research” and that he’s taking a page from the “make techno black again” movement.
A lot of that movement is being driven by new voices – so it’s surely encouraging to see when veterans take note, too.
He’s also talked to Electronic Beats about his research and teaching:
In the current episode of the Telekom Electronic Beats Podcast Editor-in-Chief Whitney Wei talks to DJ, composer, producer and Assistant Professor @kingbritt from Philadelphia. The two started a conversation on Instagram, after the release of Whitney’s article Electronic Music Is Black Protest Music. The Electronic Beats team are educating themselves and others with links to pertinent Black literature and anti-racism articles. King Britt who has an esteemed, professional background in music, facilitates these conversations daily in an academic setting. In the interview, King Britt explains the contributions of Black people on club culture and electronic music. Starting with the explanation of Afrofuturism, a term coined by Mark Dery in 1993 to frame Black liberation within a mythic, utopian prophecy, they consider this theme throughout the emergence of Chicago house, Detroit techno, Drum and Bass, and the LA beat scene, which were created as reactions by socio-political events for underrepresented communities. Britt emphasizes the symbiotic exchange between Berlin and Detroit techno, but, also traces the eventual whitewashing of the genre over time. Within, he describes his route to becoming an assistant professor and points out how he has been able to react in real-time on the Black Lives Matter movement through education.
On that note, if you want to really trip out while educating yourself on black electronic music, check out the Tumblr account associated with this release as it … will literally fly into your face. (Cool!)
For a place to start on the Fhloston Paradigm side of things, I recommend “AFTER” (and a lot of other artists on that one):
Thanks, King! I hope we all get to support one another as we really get to know one another as humans.