Antipop Consortium | Antipop vs. Matthew Shipp (Thirsty Ear Blue Series)

Because of these unfortunate circumstances, some diehard Antipop fan could see the album as an improper send-off, a compromise of the group’s intentions. But that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

 

Every so often, a group or individual comes along that shakes up their respective genre of music. Enter Antipop Consortium and Matthew Shipp. Each boasts an impressive ability to refigure their music of choice: for Antipop, it’s the deconstruction of hip-hop; for Shipp, it’s the modernization of jazz piano. And if you imagine them getting together in a recording studio, the result could be disastrous. Or it could become Antipop vs. Matthew Shipp, which proves an amazing 40-minute journey through some of the strongest material ever produced by either party. It’s as though the weirdnesses of both Shipp and Antipop are simultaneously offset by the presence of the other. Antipop’s harsh analogue hiss and loping percussion are mellowed by Shipp’s more organic piano stylings, while Shipp’s music is given a more straightforward structure with the inclusion of Antipop’s lyrics. The only real blemishes on this record stem from the dissolving of Antipop Consortium late last year. After two proper albums and one EP, the group called it quits, presumably after this recording session, and one voice missing from Antipop vs. Matthew Shipp is that of M. Saayid, whose flow and subject matter were the most directly accessible of Antipop’s three MCs (the others being Beans and Priest). Because of these unfortunate circumstances, some diehard Antipop fan could see the album as an improper send-off, a compromise of the group’s intentions. But that doesn’t turn out to be the case. Antipop and Shipp remain staunch in their attempts to independently push jazz and hip-hop into the future, even while working together. In the case of Shipp, he’s given three completely instrumental tracks, one of which, the album-closing “Free Hop,” is a culmination of many of the rhythmic and tonal themes he has toyed with in the past. It’s seven minutes of frenetic free-jazz mastery, accompanied by some of the best vibe playing I’ve heard recorded or otherwise, courtesy of quartet guest-member Khan Jamal.

Antipop offers lyrical accompaniment on every other track, including the noirish “Slow Horn” and “Monstro City,” on which Beans spits abstract, sestina-like lines such as, “Most events of sequence/With the began/Discourse to irrelevant.” But the album’s strongest points are those at which Shipp and Antipop share the stage as equal partners. Both “Staph” and “A Knot in Your Bop” are an almost eerie perfection of the members’ styles of avant-garde jazz and hip-hop, excellent experimental lyrics working in tandem with chord-driven piano solos. And while I’ll miss Antipop, if this album is any indication of the quality of their individual future output, I’m excited to see exactly what’s to come.

 

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