Matana Roberts shares new audio from Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis. Released 18th October



This month, Matana Roberts returns with the fourth chapter of her extraordinary Coin Coin series – a project that has deservedly garnered the highest praise and widespread critical acclaim for its fierce aesthetic originality and unflinching narrative power. The first three Coin Coin albums, issued from 2011-2015, charted diverse pathways of avant modern composition – Roberts calls it “panoramic sound quilting” – and ranged sequentially from large band to sextet to solo, unified by Roberts’ archival and often deeply personal research into legacies of the American slave trade and ancestries of American identity/experience. Roberts also emphasises non-male subjects and thematises these other-gendered stories with a range of vocal and verbal techniques: singspeak, submerged glossolalic recitation, guttural cathartic howl, operatic voice, gentle lullaby, group chant, and the recuperation of various American folk traditionals and spirituals, whether surfacing in fragmentary fashion or as unabridged set-pieces. The root of this vocality comes from her dedication to the legacy of her main chosen instrument, the alto saxophone.

 On Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis, Roberts convened a new band, with New Yorkers Hannah Marcus (guitars, fiddle, accordion) and percussionist Ryan Sawyer(Thurston Moore, Nate Wooley, Cass McCombs) joined by Montréal bassist Nicolas Caloia (Ratchet Orchestra) and Montréal-Cairo composer/improviser Sam Shalabi (Land Of Kush, Dwarfs Of East Agouza) on guitar and oud, along with prolific trombonist Steve Swell and vibraphonist Ryan White as special guests. Memphis unspools as a continuous work of 21st century liberation music, oscillating between meditative incantatory explorations, raucous melodic themes, and unbridled free-improv suites, quoting archly and ecstatically from various folk traditions along the way. Led by Roberts’ conduction and unique graphic score practice, her consummate saxophone and clarinet playing, and punctuated by her singing and speaking various texts generated from her own historical research and diaristic writings, Coin Coin Chapter Four is a glorious and spellbinding new installment in this projected twelve-part work.

 Says Roberts:
As an arts adventurer dealing w/ the medium of sound and its many contradictions I am most interested in endurance, perseverance, migration, liberation, libation, improvisation and the many layers of cognitive dissonance therein as it relates to my birth country’s history. I speak memory, I sing an american survival through horn, song, sadness, a sometimes gladness. I stand on the backs of many people, from so many different walks of life and difference, that never had a chance to express themselves as expressively as I have been given the privilege. In these sonic renderings, I celebrate the me, I celebrate the we, in all that it is now, and all that is yet to come or will be… Thanks for listening.” 

1. Jewels Of The Sky: Inscription

2. As Far As Eyes Can See

3. Trail Of The Smiling Sphinx

4. Piddling5. Shoes Of Gold

6. Wild Fire Bare

7. Fit To Be Tied

8. Her Mighty Waters Run

9. All Things Beautiful

10. In The Fold

11. Raise Yourself Up

12. Backbone Once More

13. How Bright They Shine

 “Roberts is a major talent.” – The Wire

“Roberts is carving out her own aesthetic space, one that’s startling in its originality and gripping it its historic and social power.” Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

“Roberts isn’t just a storyteller, musician, ethnographer, historian, bandleader, arranger, improviser, or activist. She plays all of those roles, yes: collectively, they power one of the most provocative ongoing bodies of work by any American musician.” – Pitchfork

“Astonishing work of history, memory and sensed experience. Confirms Roberts’ place as one of the most important living artists in any field.” – The Quietus

“Complex, life-affirming music that’s both serious and playful, steeped in tradition yet as highly original and forward-thinking as anything you’re likely to hear.” – Tiny Mix Tapes

“Roberts builds on the tradition of intertextuality, interspersing slippery musical motifs with bits of prose, both spoken and sung, scavenging scraps of insight from her own lineage and reassembling them in a suite-like work. Among other things, she’s exploring her ancestral ties to Marie-Thérèse Coincoin, a freed slave who became a prominent matriarch. The sanctified combustion of Albert Ayler informs this music, but its mood can also run beguilingly cool, its power undiminished.” – The New York Times

“Stunning. The music seems constantly reborn. Improvisation, composed sections, instrumental riffs and much more burst forth from an uninterrupted panorama and describe a journey that evokes a history rich with all matters of experience and emotion.” – New York City Jazz Record

“Spellbinding. Needs to be heard.” – Los Angeles Times


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