Thirsty Ear Celebrates the Release of “Knives From Heaven” Long Awaited Sequel to the Highly Touted “Antipop vs. Matthew Shipp” June 2011

Thirsty Ear Celebrates the Release of “Knives From Heaven” Long Awaited Sequel to the Highly Touted “Antipop vs. Matthew Shipp” June 2011

“Knives From Heaven” is an unmitigated glimpse into the imaginations of musical madmen. On this sequel to the critically acclaimed Blue Series project “Matthew Shipp vs. Antipop Consortium,” the two sides again offer brilliant showers of collaboration as they spurn stale hip-hop-jazz paradigms and embark on an astounding sonic odyssey. “Knives From Heaven” achieves incredible stylistic integration through the unprecedented assimilation of spontaneous jazz embellishments into the format of head-nodding hip-hop cuts. Priest calls the record “a true symbiosis of jazz and hip-hop,” imbued with live playing in a way that uniquely enables the tracks to “breathe.”

Only the relentlessly inventive Matthew Shipp and Antipop Consortium could walk the trodden path of hip-hop-jazz collaborations without ending up in the graveyard of convention where so many of their predecessors have landed. Though Shipp and Antipop do traverse this beaten path, the direction their music takes is entirely unforeseen. “Knives From Heaven” is not boom-bap sprinkled with sophisticated jazz melodies, but rather sophisticated music presented in the structure of a hip-hop beat tape.

Antipop Consortium’s core duo both amazes and perplexes with their verbal dexterity and weighty imagery. They do not dawdle with hackneyed flows, but innovate their own cadence just when rhythm seems impossible. Beans and Priest’s agile and heady verses are interspersed with Shipp’s mesmerizing musings, which range from serene and ethereal to harsh and agitated. Both Shipp and bassist William Parker provide stirring performances throughout the record as they back Antipop’s fiery lyricism while forging their own inspired tangents. With virtuosity on the microphones, drum machines and instruments, “Knives From Heaven” creates “dynamic forms that knock” and captures the pinnacle of both instrumental and lyrical hip-hop (Priest).

The penetrating quartet of Beans, Priest, Shipp and Parker synthesizes a newly realized form of hip-hop and jazz. The album combines Shipp and Parker’s most ardent and agonizing playing with Antipop’s most vehement and expressive rap. It embodies the “nuances of improvisation” by paying homage to the spirit of “musical forbearers while [also] pushing forward” (Priest). “Knives From Heaven” is invigorating, mind-bending and totally transformative.

“Knives From Heaven” strides into musical territory uncharted by both hip-hop and jazz heads. Priest views the group, like the album title suggests, as a “sword sharpened with age.” Beans insists “the album is one thousand folds way better. Hands down!!!”

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