Antiphon - Alfa Mist
Alfa Mist’s newest eight track release Antiphon is simply unrelenting in its brilliance. From the eleven-minute long introduction “Keep On” right through until the final note of “Brian”, Mist creates his own mesmerising interpretation of contemporary jazz, whilst simultaneously dipping his toes into alternative hip-hop and soul - and the results are quite stunning.
Mist’s 2015 EP Nocturne set him apart from the school of smooth soulful pop, which regular collaborators Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei do so well. Mist is unapologetically a jazz artist, utilising his skills as a pianist, a producer and occasionally a rapper to make a sound that is quintessentially London in nature. His full arsenal is deployed in “7th October”, which is arguably the apex of the EP and is not dissimilar to Miles Davis’ “All Blues” with a modern twist. Interestingly, Antiphon is at its alluring best during the casual soliloquy’s, where the music itself acts as a conduit to Mist’s thoughts. The resulting sense of intimacy is palpable; Mist manages to make you feel as though you’re in the room with him, that you’re somehow part of his production, a feeling that would surely only be accentuated during live performances.
The album concept stems from a conversation on mental health shared between Mist and his brothers. Elements of this dialogue can be overheard throughout the EP, where other topics such as the essence of family, friendship, values, life stages and selfishness are discussed. “Breathe” and “7th October” differentiate from the other tracks by incorporating alternative vocals to the rest of the record. In the former, for instance, the brilliant Kaya Thomas-Dyke (also responsible for the EP’s artwork) delivers a beautifully dark and delicate performance. Soaked in smoky melancholia, “Breathe” is the perfect tributary for an album made up mostly of instrumentals, and Mist’s piano sonata combines seamlessly with Tobie Tripp’s string work to create a moving finish. The entire record is mournful in its nature, but this is punctuated by offshoots such as the guitar solo in “Kyoki” and the terraced dynamic of “Brian”. Several tracks also split into two and sometimes three entirely unique soundscapes, combining numerous different elements to create a feast of alternative jazz whilst still managing to keep the album run time to under an hour.
Alfa Mist’s Antiphon is an exemplar of modern unpretentious jazz music. The Newham based artist takes you for a stroll down the quiet backstreets of London at night, immersing you with serene dialogue on human relationships whilst the sheer quality of the instrumentals make it fitting for a concert hall in the West End. It is the perfect soundtrack for urban living. There’s an ocean sized difference between this release and Nocturne and that difference is its utter dedication to contemporary jazz. Nocturne was a brilliant introduction, but Antiphon has shown us Alfa Mist in his true form and hopefully it is a form which will continue much in the same vein for whatever his next release is.
Be sure to check out the Antiphon EPK by Tom Ewbank