History records Antiphon of Rhamnus as an orator in ancient Greece. He was, in fact, a professional ghostwriter, writing speeches for disputants in the courts, and was regarded as perhaps the finest exponent of rhetoric in Athens at the time. Curiously, though, he only addressed the public directly once, when he was on trial himself for treason. Unfortunately for him, his eloquence was not enough to save him from a death sentence.
A theme of oratory pervades Alfa Mist’s Antiphon album, too. Behind the soulful blend of hip-hop and jazz the artist’s brothers can be half-heard discussing family values, respect and selfishness. It has the effect of raising questions without providing any answers. “Hey!, let’s talk about this” it says, nothing more.
Musically, Antiphon is a staging post on mister Mist’s journey from hip-hop and grime to the relatively recent bygone days of modern jazz. Miles Davis, for example, is an acknowledged inspiration. One music venue’s website described it thus:
Melancholy jazz harmony meets alternative hip-hop and soul in the music of self-taught pianist and sometime rapper Alfa Mist.On the Grace Jones Meltdown at the Southbank Centre, 2019
But that doesn’t do full justice to Alfa Mist’s talents. At heart he is a producer in the most creative sense of the word. He weaves sounds, live, recorded and synthesised, into exotic soundscapes. Another 11 musicians are credited on the Antiphon album and, under Mist’s direction, they have forged some of the finest art this side of The Beatles.
Layered over Alfa Mist’s keyboards and a conventional bass & drums rhythm section, there are guitars, a saxophone, a trumpet and sparse violins. Sprinkled through the album there are also spoken background conversations and on this one track vocals by Kaya Thomas-Dyke:
Overall, Antiphon is an album of relaxed jazz livened up with remnants from a musician’s former life as a rapper. Unlike most popular black culture music these days it is easy to listen to and recommended by both Crotchety Man and Hubzilla.
For background information on Alfa Mist I recommend this article in Nitelife magazine.