Anti-Pop Consortium; Magical, Beautiful; I Kong Kult | Empty Bottle | Hip-Hop | Chicago Reader

Anti-Pop Consortium; Magical, Beautiful; I Kong Kult Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Oct. 2, 10 p.m. 2009

New York’s Anti-Pop Consortium made their mark at the turn of the century by subverting hip-hop orthodoxy. Two of APC’s MCs had been regulars on the spoken-word scene, and there were more than a few strands of electronica in the group’s genes; their rhymes were like riddles and their beats were often built mostly from bleeps. Many of their songs created a queasy tension between the rapping and the music: either or both might be oddly lumpy and off-kilter, bunching, stumbling, and dragging counterintuitively. Internal squabbling splintered the group in 2002, and the spin-offs—Beans’s solo career, High Priest and M. Sayyid’s collaboration Airborn Audio—made it clear that the three of them (plus longtime producer Earl Blaze) sounded better as a unit. They seem to have realized this themselves: on October 13 the Anti-Pop Consortium will release Fluorescent Black (Big Dada), their first album since 2002’s terrific Arrhythmia (Warp), and they’re picking up more or less where they left off. Of course, that means everybody else has had seven years to catch up, and as a result the album’s relatively straightforward tracks—like “Shine,” with its garden-variety narrative about an artist who can’t handle sudden fame—sound a bit passe. Much better is “C Thru U,” where the MCs’ stuttering flow complements a manic electro groove and stabbing, paranoid synth. The gang chorus on “Volcano” taps into some P-Funk shit, and on “The Solution” some of the vocals are treated not with the ubiquitous Auto-Tune but with vocoder, a technology that had its heyday in the 70s—just the kind of contrarian jab for which APC has always had a special gift. Magical, Beautiful and I Kong Kult open. —Peter Margasak

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