Anti-Pop Consortium, Arrhythmia

Anti-Pop Consortium, Arrhythmia

Anti-Pop has become one of the most interesting new hip-hop groups — the members of the Anti-Pop Consortium started the group with the intention of doing anything but the expected in hip-hop. With that kind of goal, it would be easy to lapse into pretense or, worse, suffer from a lack of focus, but the members of the Anti-Pop Consortium have taken their mission seriously. They pay great attention to the layered weirdness of the beats and sounds behind them, and the rhymes of the three MCs cohere as a group but leave each with enough room for themselves. Fortunately, they don’t leave the playfulness behind, and that’s what makes the record such a success.

On Arrythmia, the overall sound is less dense than the sound of the last full-length record. The sounds are as strange and unique as they were before, but it’s not as (stress-inducingly) claustrophobic. Instead of cramming everything into the foreground, the production is much deeper and more layered-feeling. Sometimes a little grit makes things better, but not here: this is one case where cleaner production just makes it all that much better (i.e., weirder). Best sample: the bouncing-ping-pong-ball-turned-funky-rap-beat in “Ping Pong.” And it’s not just a novelty — it’s twiddled just enough to totally work. Plus, what’s with the women on “Ghostlawns?” On other albums, this would be the incongruous potential big single, but Anti-Pop has enough presence of mind to make it all just peculiar enough that they reclaim it.

Their idea of what constitutes a rap lyric is somewhere in Kool Keith territory but with more logic to the free-associations. “Silver Heat” is simultaneously a battle rhyme and a hilarious send-up of MC battles. The rhymes come densely-packed and contorted: this is Kool Keith reduced (in the culinary sense) to aphorism. “Obviously you’re not stingy with stupidity / Conceded / And your album’s only one song strong” goes one off-kilter blast, but then they follow it up, and it just gets better: “Chew your arm off and raise your hand / Appreciation / Is just as impractical as masculinity for drag queens.” And they manage to keep all of this up for the course of the entire record.

Anti-Pop may take a listen or two before you absorb their sound, but their unique style quickly pulls you in. As the group has recently broken up, there may not be any more Anti-Pop, and that is a shame, because it would have been interesting to see what this great group would have done next. As it is, Arrhythmia stands as a terrific capstone to the career of an amazing group.

(Warp Records -- 503 8th Avenue, 4th Floor, Brooklyn, NY. 11215; http://www.warp-net.com/; )
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, October 1st, 2003. Filed under Reviews.

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