MAMA JAZ Specials;
In the context of the only jazz month in the southern hemisphere, and celebration of the Jazz genre in Mauritius; Prior to Knowledge dedicates special reviews on jazz music that have impacted us in ways and lengths.
Referring to melodies found in biblical scriptures, Antiphon was contextualised through Alfa Mist’s third release into an intensely melodic jazz story, narrated through the colourful features present on the project. Diving right into, the album starts off with Keep On, a 10-minute trip that’s profound up-to the epicentre and smooth around all the edges. On the structures, Jaimie Houghton, who made himself first heard in the 2008’s through the American indie rock band ‘Prawn’, holds the drums on most of the tracks on Antiphon; setting the pace throughout, with both fast and slow tempos, which acts as a determining factor which made this record wholly pleasing. Notably, Houghton even expressly jumps between tempos at 09:33 of the first track, mesmerising any focused ear through such flexible techniques.
The album then follows with Potential, in all its sense, where Alfa Mist’s keyboard methods are on the forefront from very beginning. Its potency is vocally and instantly elevated with the soothing, and very familiar, backing voice from none other than Jordan Rakei; who has put out inspiring projects, dear to us, on Ninja Tune and Zero’s Rhythm Section. The other intense soothing factor along, yes the guitar; held and managed by the agile fingers of the ever-composed Mansur Brown, who appears often along the likes of Yuseef Dayes, Henry Wu and who’s released the electric stringed masterpiece Shiroi in September 2018.
Errors features aurally striking keyboards from the go, attended and complemented by Kaya Thomas-Dyke’s bass playing; up the punching entrance of Maria Medvedeva’s techniques and flows on the alto saxophone; providing the piece with another colour of the wind instrument than as heard on Keep On.
Anticipated, Kaya Thomas-Dyke’s vocal appears and resonates on wide levels through Breathe, intermittently, yet with a bluesy accentuation; structuring and propagating a melancholic mood throughout the whole tune. Again with a firm duration, Antiphon is an album set and made up of solid instrumentals, and even unwavered over challenging track lengths.
Another unexpected piece from this album is notably 7th October. The vocals didn’t end with Thomas-Dyke’s, and went on with the smooth stomping rap on this track. There has been no featuring on this, so our best guess is Alfa Mist himself on the mic. This track went on to obtain an epilogue, consisting of two tracks, namely Resolve and another slow rap-dedicated Exit, released in 2018.
On the instrumentals; 7th October features a highlighted drummer, Gaspar Sena, whose expertise is heard on Maria Chiara Argirò’s ‘The Fall Dance’. Extreme to our senses and enchanting on that album, he’s also performed with artists as Heidi Vogel of the Cinematic Orchestra, Vin Gordon of The Wailers and more.
Retrospecting; Alfa Mist made himself notably first heard through his 2015 album Nocturne. Crafted around the daily hustle and bustle of London city, the project does not intend to portray a merry and radiant atmosphere; rather, a melancholic, day-to-day struggles and gratitudes that are observed and introspected before going to sleep. Nocturne featured artists as Rachael Ofori, Emmavie and vocal flows from Barney Artist and Lester Duval.
More recently and as an epic mention, 2018 saw the collaboration of Alfa Mist and thy Yuseef Dayes; on Love is The Message. Legendary as it already seems, it’s accentuated on this very high note with Mansur Brown on the strings. With another lengthy composition, which yet feels like asking for more, the piece sounds as an other-worldly fusion with harmonies on all levels.
And yes, we’ve asked for more, and a live version of Love is The Message has been shot at the monumental Abbey Road Studios; a lengthier blessing with improvisations, and with Rocco Palladino handling the bass. Another good news, this may just be a single that announces the high likeliness of an upcoming album.
Self-taught, Alfa Mist was teaching himself the keys. It was hip-hop that directed him to jazz; and mentioned that through digging around beat samples made him discover a broad length of genres and among was jazz, to which he immersed himself deeply. Through an interview on Stereofox, Mist mentions that Antiphon started off as a conversation with his brothers, talking about the essentials of being part of a family; and that the album doesn’t fit in only the jazz genre, but also has a punch of soul and hip-hop.
Mist also mentions that he aims to design music for films; but to us, he’s already giving off the film-like experience through only an aural medium.