Anti-Pop Consortium : London, Hackney Ocean

A fidgety, discomforting hybrid of electronica and hip-hop...

Five days after the entire British rap nation tried to storm Jay Z‘s London show, a very different strain of East Coast hip-hop confronts clubbers at Warp’s annual avant-jamboree. Model chicks and bottles of ‘Cris’ are predictably scarce.

Yet for all their credentials on New York’s underground hip-hop scene, it’s a surprise to discover just how far out there Anti Pop Consortium really are.

After a rare DJ set by Leila has warmed up/utterly disoriented the crowd with an alarming mix ofJay Z, Can and Danny Kaye, three men appear hunched over keyboards and mixers. Exactly what they’re doing with it all is a mystery, but what it translates into is a fidgety, discomforting hybrid of electronica and hip-hop.

This is gripping and bleak music, confirmed in ’39/303′ by Priest announcing, “I rap like there’s nothing left to believe in”. It doesn’t take a genius to see why Thom Yorke likes them so much; likeRadiohead, Anti Pop present a dysfunctional update of their music, replacing the usual sense of community with one of alienation.

“Y’all still with us?” asks Priest conscientiously. And it’s plain that quite a few here, itching for the assimilable futurism of Plaid up next, are anything but. But when he and fellow rapper Beans chant, “What is your malfunction?” on ‘SLLAB’, it’s hard to tell who are the ones with the real problems. In the best possible way, of course.

John Mulvey