Though now Lisbon, Portugal-based, Alan Abrahams grew up in post-Apartheid Capetown, South Africa, and the sounds of his homeland profoundly permeate his work to this day. What makes his Portable and now Bodycode music so remarkable, however, is how marvelously Abrahams merges African rhythms, microhouse, trance, and minimal techno. After hitting his stride with the Portable releases Cycling (Background) and Version (~scape), his more insistently danceable Bodycode upholds, if not elevates, that high standard. With the tracks six to eight minutes in length, Abrahams gives the club-oriented material ample opportunity to gather steam, and succeeds brilliantly at fashioning multi-layered arrangements that are both rhythmically infectious and compositionally sophisticated.
Bodycode’s mesmerizing sound design is showcased in ferociously grooving tracks like “Nanotechnology,” where panning voices slur the title while whirring percussion patterns stoke furious broils, and “Equidistant,” where a similarly panning voice becomes merely one transfixing element within a mass of bumping rhythms and mechano chatter. The funky “I, Data” marries tribal rhythms and acid, with Abrahams adding (presumably) his own robotic monotone. Whether intentional or not, the tune, a dizzying amalgam of voice swirls and entrancing rhythms, pays tribute to Kraftwerk with Bodycode’s “Am I data?” query a seeming riff on the German group’s ‘Man-Machine’ concept. As per African tradition, cuts like “Local Traffic” build hypnotically through increasingly feverish repetition, while multitudes of percussion, voices, and digital flourishes weave into intricate, trippy mazes in “Hands Free Computer Interface” and a veritable percussion battalion charges alongside a Doppleresque tonal wave in “Bounce Back.” While not wholly different from his Portable style, the magnificent Bodycode arguably represents the most perfect realization yet of Abraham’s 21st-century Afro-house (perhaps Afro-trance is a more accurate label) style.