Forget NASA wheeling Buzz Aldrin out to beg for more funding on the anniversary of the moon landings, a new album from the mighty Anti Pop Consortium marks the real return of the space cowboys.
It's been over six years since Beans, Preist, M Sayyid and E Blaize last graced Earth with their combined presence – and although APC members have been individually popping up since then, you could be forgiven for assuming that Big Dada’s original wonky hip-hoppers had gone their separate ways. In the meantime, everyone and their Gran has decided that off-kilter, stuttering hip hop is the sound of 2009. Mary Anne Hobbes’ new Wild Angels compilation is testament to just how far the bug has progressed through the worlds of hip hop, dubstep and electronica.
All in all, the stage is set for a triumphant return for APC. And the new album doesn’t disappoint – android soul and a scorching hookup with Mr Roots Manuva included in the entry fee. More aggressive but also more slickly produced than previous outing Arrhythmia, Fluorescent Black is an assured return. But why now?
“This was a decision we made amongst ourselves in the fall of 07” says High Preist, “after which we began touring and working on the LP in between." According to M Sayyid, they “buried the axe on some internal issues” about two years ago before getting started on the album. And it's an interesting time for the album to drop – with experimental hip hop once again in rude health, APC feel like innovators in the leftfield of rap. A million miles away from the bragging school of MC-ing, and not ones to blow their own trumpet, APC are cautious in taking credit for their legacy. But APC are undeniably a reference point for the direction that underground hip hop is moving in:
“Yeah I think we definitely had a hand in some of the changes” muses Sayyid, “but time…time changes everything and the broader pop culture icons favour making records with more experimentation. Which is a good thing”.
Fluorescent Black arrives into a UK hip hop scene that has been infiltrated by the ethereal synths of dubstep’s apocalyptic post-rave panoply, and a US sound that owes more to Jay Dilla than Jay Z. But despite the prevalence of experimental aesthetics, the idiosyncratic sound of APC is impossible to resist. Arrhythmia was far enough ahead of its time that even a six year hiatus hasn’t dented the Anti-Pop sound.
“Humbly I can only look at what we've been doing for the past ten years and look how much the landscape has changed around us” says Preist, “although I realize that the music industry doesn’t change at all. The artists, the players and the means of distribution change but ultimately the game remains the same. Hopefully we will continue to innovate and push things forward.”