ANTI-POP CONSORTIUM Fluorescent Black (Big Dada Recordings)
Last autumn saw the release of a futuristic hip-hop concept album that every fan of the genre should hear, and it’s not Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon: The End of Day. That album is a massive hit, but if you want the real deal, leave Cudi on the shelf and hit up Fluorescent Black instead. With a loose overriding theme about transforming from organic to artificial beings, the quartet— returning to action after an extended hiatus— lets loose a wide range of styles and sounds, beginning with the discordant electric-guitar shredding that opens the record. “Shine” is concise hip-hop storytelling about a painter who tangles with the Russian mafia. “Born Electric” comes off like the music of a hip-hop Meatloaf. “End Game” uses the vocals as an off-kilter, IDM-esque beat on which to set off a fireworks display of retro electronic effects. Fresh sounds zip through the periphery of this ever-surprising record. But like every modern hip-hop album, Fluorescent Black is way too long at 17 songs. Anti-Pop Consortium have pulled off a grand, cinematic vision here, but they shouldn’t have made an album that feels as long as a movie. However, for hip-hop heads, this qualifies as a good problem to have.
— Robert Benziker