Friday, 9 October 2015

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee

I am still buzzing from catching Matana Roberts live earlier this week, a performance which immediately entered my 'top 5 ever' category. Matana's work springs from a fairly unusual place - political, experimental jazz with a sort of Max Roach feel, yet avoiding ever really becoming free-jazz - a move that makes her sound especially unique given that much contemporary jazz seems to oscillate between twee Coltrane/Davis rip-offs and free-er than free brass-noise affairs. Her last two albums have evoked a sort of ghostly big-band sound, coming off like a particularly drunk and somber Duke Ellington interrupted by often viscous, howling, feminist poetry. The new album differs in so far that it incorporates far more samples - odd snippets of Matana's manipulated voice, drones, clicks, and other unidentifiable and vaguely industrial sounds. There is still Jazz in here mind - both the wonderfully virtuosic (and dare I say pleasant) saxophone that underpins the whole thing, and the creeping sections of more fully fleshed brass-work underneath. The thing that really makes the work shine however, is the unrepentant fury that shines through every second of it, a drenching rage that blossoms as she repeats the same handful of words over and over again, placing them in a seemingly improvised fashion over the dense and juxtaposed sound-world. This is by far her most difficult album, by virtue of its propensity for repetition and minimalism, not her most unpleasant - gone are the anguished howls of her first album, replaced instead by a more mature, but no less pained utility of words, each repeated until they lose all meaning, cycling through humour, anger, joy and sorrow with each iteration.

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