Written By: Emma Robins
UK-based producer and composer Alfa Mist exhibits his and his band’s immense musical talents in his second album, Antiphon. This genius is evident in the effortless musical and improvisational flow throughout the album. Though the instrumentals are incredibly cohesive, artists also stand out of their own accord; Maria Medvedeva’s saxophone sings in the opening track “Keep On”, and Alfa Mist’s piano is dreamlike in “Breathe.”
“Breathe” is also the only song with sung vocals, which highlights Kaya Thomas-Dyke’s ethereal voice, reminiscent of the work of Laura Mvula. This track’s delicate depth is further pronounced by the use of violins, and the melancholy atmosphere continues into the next track “7th October,” providing a captivating break from the consistent sound throughout the rest of the album.
This blend of “melancholy Jazz harmony with alternative hip-hop and soul” (Bandcamp) is not the most versatile album, nor does it attempt to be. Alfa Mist sticks close to his genre; a steady jazz sound supplemented by contemporary beats, sometimes overlaid with spoken word or rap. Several of the songs are over ten minutes in length, a staple of the genre, filled with classic jazz chord progressions. Though somewhat simple in its formula, Antiphon is ultimately about the execution, which is flawless. This album’s versatility is therefore in its application; it can be soothing background music as easily as it can completely consume the listener, if given the chance.
Antiphon ends with the beat-heavy and shortest track on the album, “Brian.” The rhythmic song ends abruptly, a striking deviation from the other flowing, easy transitions, as if to bring the listener to attention only at the very end. This is an album which lulls and captivates, eases and awes. It takes the listener on an emotional arc, from comforting familiarity, to haunting melodies, to jolting beguiling beats.
Ultimately, Alfa Mist revives jazz in Antiphon, making it accessible and adaptable to today’s audience, while staying true to its core.