This is simultaneously a bad and a good thing. ‘Afrika Man’ (the track, not the EP) goes from punchy and hard, to spacy and contemplative and then full circle to funky and organic sounding by cycling through hard metallic synths, swooping pads and African percussion all in the course of one track. And that’s always what I’ve loved about the best Detroit tracks—they contain multitudes.
And make no mistake, this is a very good dancefloor track. But it’s also a little bit of a caricature of what Detroit techno sounds like—the Motor City momentum, the sheet metal synth sounds and the insistent hi hats are reverential and referential to the glory days of the early ‘90s. Luckily this is well produced and immediate enough to be a competent tribute rather than a cheesy pastiche, but it’s a close thing.
Nubian Mindz isn’t actually from Detroit—he’s a UK producer best known for his broken beat and drum n bass releases, making him part of the current flood of European producers who are celebrating the US house and techno pioneers. And while this reverence for history is all very admirable, one does feel that too much of it can be a bad thing.
And that’s why ‘Techno Love’, on the b-side, is ultimately what lets this EP down. It’s a grab-you-by-the-hips pounder, with great hi hats, but then overlaid with a staggeringly corny downpitched vocal. No doubt this is referencing K-Alexi or Blake Baxter, but while you could get away with this kind of thing in 1992, in 2008 you’ve got to deliver something very fresh to excuse such a played-out technique. And vocals like “I’m going to take you to a place where we’re all one race” really doesn’t cut it.
Fortunately nobody is going to take you to a place where you have to listen to both sides of a record, so this is still definitely worth picking up, despite the slight hint of cheese.