Praga Khan - Pragamatic (1998) Review



On Pragamatic, Maurice Engelen finally steps out of the shadow of Lords of Acid with an LP that drastically scales back the ecstasy-driven, tongue in cheek humour of his past work and tries instead to match the intensity and aggression of the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers. Distorted bass loops and industrial drum machine fills rule the day here. Jade 4 U’s soul-style vocals, once synonymous with PK’s solo work, are de-emphasized here.

Instead, Engelen’s own vocals take center stage, veering between a subdued spoken word style and a paranoid, high-pitched baritone that gives the record a dread-heavy feel of a bad comedown after an all night bacchanal. “Luv U Still”’s drama-laden synth melody is slashed open with a distorted keyboard melody so massive sounding that it slices right through the listener. The other key pick is “City of a Thousand Sins”, whose propulsive beats underpin a chopped-and-screwed synth sample almost drowning out Engelen’s lyrics of sin and repentance.

“Wasting My Time” and “I Want You” buzz with the a similar manic energy, and downtempo cuts like “Stoned on Your Love” bring to mind the heavy, industrial-trip hop of Alan Wilder’s Recoil and Psykosonik, who Engelen became familiarized with when producing the Mortal Kombat soundtrack. All in all, not a particularly notable album, but an interesting listen at a time when groups like these were trying to modernize their sound.