Antipop Consortium - Fluorescent Black
It’s been a long wait. Seven years exactly since Anti-pop Consortium released Arrhythmia in all its improvised glory before quickly disappearing on solo-perusing hiatus. And while Arrhythmia was a hard-to-access aural trip into Hip Hop avant garde with its complex rythms and stream of conscious lyrics, Fluorescent Black - on the New Yorkers new home at Mercury Prize winning Big Dada - proves a much more assessable album.
The album begins with a cacophony of punky feedback and electric guitars, leading into the opening track ‘Lay Me Down’ before moving into straight MCing. This opening could potentially scare fans into thinking the collective of Beans, M. Sayyid, High Priest and producer Earl Blaize have gone in a new direction, but rest assured, once the MCIng starts and you recognise the trademark jerks Blaize’s production, it is clear this is the APC of old. Indeed, three tracks later ‘Reflections’ belies any fears that this more accessible sound has lessened the impact that APC can have.
‘Shine’, with its tail of an up-and-coming artist and the tribulations associated with fame, continues the run typical APC tunes. In fact it’ a truly great one with a great story, some great lyrics, and a heavy underlying beat. It’s short, sweet and a great introduction to what exactly APC are capable of producing. Having said that, first single ‘Volcano’ really IS a banging tune and demonstrates the range of this collective, in this case a beat heavy electro sound highlighting the great production that Beanz and Blaize can deliver, while the differing techniques in rapping and the switching between the MCs shows the class that exists within the group. Their chemistry has, evidently, gone nowhere.
There is a clear fascination here with the digital world we are increasingly living in; this not just in the blips and beats created but also in the content and lyrics of the tunes from the, albeit disappointing, ‘Born Electric to nu-pop infused ‘The Solution’. It’s ‘Capricon One’, though, which really stands out. With great driven electro drums and lines such as “with a finger down my throat I holler beats per minute”, it pretty much encapsulates what APC do best: intelligent stream of conscious lyrics delivered over some complex and well placed and constructed rhythms.
Despite disappearing for much of the decade, Anti-pop Consortium are very definitely back and still have a message and dogma to spread. On Fluorescent Black, APC prove that Hip Hop is not all hands in the air, grab your crotch dancefloor diarrhoea, and can even make a shout of HOLLA (on ‘New Jack Exterminator’) sound unique and refreshing.