This is truly a special album.
Alfa Mist, also known for his work in collaboration with a circuit of talented musicians that includes the likes of Misch, Rakei and Loyle Carner, has gone and released one of the finest jazz albums of the modern era. An era with less vinyl crackle and more music streams. But, every now and then, some of the same emotion in every chord comes out of our Spotify, Soundcloud and complimentary Apple headphones.
Staying loyal to contemporary jazz whilst occasionally helping himself to some soul and hip-hop on the side during this 52 minute EP, Alfa Mist brings a breath of modern life into a sound more reminiscent of 1974 Idris Muhammad than the grime and hip-hop he once produced. But behind the beautifully designed album cover is more than just the ‘Power of Soul’ brought by Idris, or the power of hip-hop or the power of jazz. Rather, it’s a record that expresses the power of being human.
Genuine conversation plays a key role in Antiphon right from the lengthy intro, Keep On, that sets an impeccable tone that isn’t lost throughout. These snippets of human voices remove any presumed pretentiousness from the record, unravelling the often abstract nature of jazz music and giving it a clearer, relatable meaning. Mist takes us through a life growing up and learning in London, with themes of family, relationships and mental health present – and the aforementioned voices narrate that perfectly.
But it’s not just these snippets that keep you listening, it’s the delicately curated yet organically flowing structures of the instrumentals. The way tracks simmer down gently, relaxing to the point of bordering ‘lounge music,’ only to build back up, staggering on to dramatic rises in tempo and mood. The man has the ability to make you sink into a Sunday afternoon nap and then make you want to go and sprint down your street within minutes of the same song. It’s this dual personality within this mood-swinging album that creates such a powerful listen.
Circling in on the hip-hop content within Antiphon, the track 7th October features a unique rap from Alfa Mist. With Gaspar Sena on drums, Rudi Creswick on double bass, Mansur Brown on guitar and Mr Mist rapping whilst controlling the keys with captivating brilliance. He spits some lyrics as heartfelt as you’d expect on such an emotive project. Such a brief but punchy release of rapping is like him temporarily leaving the anonymity of his piano, lifting his head from the keys and talking directly to the listener. He gets what he wants off of his chest before returning to those keys where he feels his most comfortable, and finishing off what truly is a modern masterpiece of jazz music.
To listen to the EP, you can go with Spotify or the Soundcloud widget thing below, and Antiphon is also available on vinyl if you’re lucky enough to get to a show. Be sure to check out his previous work, too.
5 of the smoothest Mango Rubicons out of 5