Matthew Shipp Anti-Pop vs. Matthew Shipp

[Thirsty Ear Blue Series; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: jazz, avant-garde jazz
Others: Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, Thelonious Monk

Strict jazzbo piano of Shipp and the beats, raps and musics of the Anti-Pop crew. There. Review over.

Still here? Okay. Let me ruminate in lieu of criticizing then. I am very thankful (all we open-minded music lovers should be) that artists such as Anti-Pop are out there doing their own thing. Both modern hip-hop and jazz artists are some of the biggest elitist snobs in the biz. Vanity project after vanity project and the excitement that Shipp and Anti-Pop create with their meeting of the creative minds stands out admirably. The funked-up "All Blues" variation on track four from Shipp is as workable with Anti-Pop's breaks as it is a testament to the timelessness, one of the most priceless gifts to the world, Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.

I'm new to Matthew Shipp. But based on his nimble and infusive runs, I think I could check out his catalogue and expand my current jazz collection well beyond Charlie Hunter and MMW. And while this collaboration might not be what Anti-Pop or Shipp followers can dig equally, (this is a very Anti-Pop dominated affair) at least the album's core sound is never compromised. 

"Stream Light" shows no trace of tinkling ivories, but it's classic Anti-Pop. Brooding instrumentals like "SVP" and "Stream Light" are enticing detours. "Monstro City" contains something more like spoken word than rap, with more brooding melody. "Slow Horn" and "Real is Surreal" should please fans of the official Anti-Pop swan song Arrhythmia. They both contain those great big goofy Kool Keith type non-sequiturs that are brazenly uncool in a time when overpolished, bravado cool is king.

So why only 4 out of 5? Well, it's a fine recording, but a decidedly faceted one. You're not always going to be in the mood for this. It's only for those rare times when you want something both cerebral and  bouncy. Both ear candy and confrontational experimentation. It's not perfect. Not many albums are. But there's plenty on this exceptionally original release to enjoy, nonetheless.

Here's to the Devo of the rap game! Let them eat all the beats in the bop basket! 

1. Places I've Never Been
2. Staph
3. Slow Horn
4. A Knot in Your Bop
5. SVP
6. Coda
7. Stream Light
8. Monstro City
9. Real is Surreal
10. Free Hop

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