Boomkat Product Review:
Afrodeutsche provides Skam’s best release this decade with Break Before Make; the British-born Ghanaian/Russian/German artist’s début album of Detroit-inspired hardware jams
For the better part of two decades in Manchester, Henrietta Rolla-Smith a.k.a. Afrodeutsche has been a fixture in the city’s underground currents, but this is the first time she’s properly revealed her solo music, making for a mesmerising addition to the legacy of Manchester’s most notorious electronic music label.
Clearly nodding to Detroit’s seminal electro-techno sound, both implied in her pseudonym’s reference to UR’s Afrogermanic; and explicitly in her moody, raw, machine-made style: Afrodeutsche exerts a a deadly and unique spin on classic styled with an effortlessness that’s not common to Skam’s typical taste for frenetic arrangements. However, on the other hand, the inherent hip hop leanings of her slower grooves, and a mutual passion for bittersweet electronics is patently self-evident across the 14 tracks of Break Before Make.
As with her ace live shows, the tracks are all built from a combination of improvisation and preparation, the result of so many years of honing her hardware intuition so she can fluidly speak and emote thru the keys and wires. In that sense, each cut unfolds with an off-the-dome linearity, with reticulated rhythms sidewinding under chromatic lixx that variously keen, layer and chatter with a sci-fi cinematic sort of encrypted abstract narration.
Essentially, it’s an unmissable album for anyone who’s been entranced by the myriad projects of Gerald Donald a.k.a. Heinrich Mueller, or anyone who enjoys interpreting machine music with proper funk and dark, yet playful soul.