Anti-Pop Consortium - Fluorescent Black

Six years after embarking on a long hiatus to pursue separate projects, New York's experimental hip-hop pioneers Anti-Pop Consortium have regrouped to deliver their fourth LP proper. The quartet's latest offering relays a message loud and clear that the surplus of talent that helped elevate them to prominence in the rap game almost a decade ago hasn't dried up just yet. They return with a bang, making a grab for attention with a squall of guitar and cascading drums before kicking it up a notch, taking us down and dirty with a scorching low-slung groove on opener Lay Me Down. The track touches on the subject of their decision to regroup, twinning itself thematically with the breathless Timpani which can be seen as something of a state of the Consortium address, striking out a warning to any pretenders: it's them again / put down your pen they've struck again, backed by the bass-trembling sound of insistent tribal drums and animalistic howls.

Things really click into place on Reflections, with each member taking a verse and tossing out killer lines indiscriminately. When they hit top gear they prove they can produce the same old magic in spite of all the time spent working apart, slotting together to reel off banger after banger; see the stormy, grime-inflected C Thru U and vibrant, wonky melodies of Apparently. Labelmate Roots Manuva turns up to make a creditable cameo on the light and poppy NY To Tokyo, while Volcano is a typically offbeat concoction, a slurred, ridiculous chorus wrapped in loping beats matched with clicks, whirrs and an elastic, squelchy synth. On a side note, check out the Four Tet remix of this track, which gives the track a whole new complexion and provides an example of APC's impressive crossover appeal - how many other rap collectives would find themselves on the receiving end of a folktronica makeover? Elsewhere, the group take the micro-genre of robot soul to its logical conclusion with the entertainingly slick The Solution, heralding the possibility of the synthesis of man and machine with the proclamation: you speak of pressure and stress / metal can withstand these forces / flesh cannot ... bionic is the solution.

Beans, High Priest, Earl Blaize and M. Sayyid share out the production duties between them, and with the addition of contributions from MegMan and Alter Ego, ensure there's plenty of sonic variation on the 17 cuts. However, their trademark futuristic beats remain at the heart of the music all the way through to the stifling, claustrophobic title track, which constantly builds tension by piling on layers of insect screeching and dank, echoing bass. There are one or two duds among the pack, but for the most part the standard remains impressively high, validating their decision to get back together and hinting at the possibility of even better things to come.



out of 10
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