matana roberts: 'coin coin' and other things

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saw her at last year's atp, playing a set of solo alto where she spent the whole set -- well, what i saw of it -- playing simple lines and then increasingly deconstructing them, showing off in a way impressive for its casual grasp of normal & extended technique. cerebral and meditative, and probably one of the most accomplished bits of music i saw at that festival.

getting some press for her new record, 'coin coin chapter one', which is the first of a twelve-piece ... thing: closest analogue would be something like that first charlie haden/carla bley record, but on a much larger scale; she's performed six of the twelve parts, and the recording of the first was done live-in-studio with a sixteen-piece ensemble including prepared ensemble and musical saw. she spends a lot of time doing recitative chant-singing about slavery. the idiom is free jazz, more or less, with digressions into folk-song modes and pastiche of earlier jazz forms. it's far more exciting than i'm making it sound.

thomp, Thursday, 28 July 2011 17:00 (twelve years ago) link

it's also on constellation, which i'm not sure if i agree with or not. she has also recorded, i believe, with tortoise and prefuse 73.

thomp, Thursday, 28 July 2011 17:06 (twelve years ago) link

thomp, Friday, 29 July 2011 17:29 (twelve years ago) link

new album is AOTY contender

ennui morricone (Whiney G. Weingarten), Friday, 29 July 2011 22:37 (twelve years ago) link


Badmotorfinger Debate Club (MFB), Sunday, 31 July 2011 21:05 (twelve years ago) link

that youtube is amazing, definitely going to track a copy down

zappi, Sunday, 31 July 2011 21:15 (twelve years ago) link

me too. the bit i listened to on sonnedclod was a wee bit scary and some kinda sublime
(link to flac d/l)

Marquis de Sade (outdoor_miner), Sunday, 31 July 2011 21:31 (twelve years ago) link

it's a good record and an AMAAAAZING piece. was stunned last summer seeing the same piece as on the record, performed in montreal.

sean gramophone, Monday, 1 August 2011 05:40 (twelve years ago) link

it's come up a bit on the rolling jazz thread, yall.

the idiom is free jazz, more or less, with digressions into folk-song modes and pastiche of earlier jazz forms.

there are probably other more proximate free-jazz comparisons, but it also sounds very mingusy to me, just in the dramatic aspect to even some of the instrumental music, and obviously to the sing-talking.

at first listen i also thought she spent a 'lot of time' doing the sing-chanting about slavery, but now i would have to say it just overwhelms at first.

j., Monday, 1 August 2011 06:21 (twelve years ago) link

this sounds like it would fulfill my Nicole Mitchell jones while being stylistically different, thanks for the heads up.

sleeve, Monday, 1 August 2011 06:30 (twelve years ago) link

i've been trying to think of other comparisons which get to what i don't like about it, and i think the problem is it makes me think of henry cow, sorta

thomp, Monday, 1 August 2011 09:30 (twelve years ago) link

Brilliant album this, although I'm still absorbing it.
Mingus is a good reference point. Her vocals have some of the commanding presence of June Tyson on classic Sun Ra sides, with a touch of Linda Sharrock's abandon. Most recent thing it reminds me of is William Parker's incredible Double Sunrise Over Neptune, or some of his stuff with Leena Conquest on vocals.

Count Palmiro Vicarion (Stew), Monday, 1 August 2011 09:52 (twelve years ago) link

eight months pass...

still playing 'coin coin ch1' on the regular, what an incredible work

madame boo berry (donna rouge), Friday, 27 April 2012 17:56 (eleven years ago) link

me too, easily my favourite discovery of last year (thanks to this far too short thread)

zappi, Friday, 27 April 2012 18:12 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

Coin Coin Chapter Two is astonishing.

Merdeyeux, Tuesday, 12 November 2013 12:43 (ten years ago) link

Yes! Good interview in the Wire the other month too.

famous for hits! (seandalai), Tuesday, 12 November 2013 15:00 (ten years ago) link

Definitely one of my favourites this year

tsrobodo, Tuesday, 12 November 2013 15:08 (ten years ago) link

this rules

comic sbans soref (wins), Sunday, 17 November 2013 14:32 (ten years ago) link

This is a strange and wonderful album.

Damo Suzuki's Parrot, Friday, 29 November 2013 22:16 (ten years ago) link

i haven't heard any of her recordings; sounds like i need to.
saw her perform earlier this year and it was great.

ian, Friday, 29 November 2013 23:17 (ten years ago) link

two months pass...

this is great.

Daniel, Esq 2, Friday, 31 January 2014 03:01 (nine years ago) link

eleven months pass...


♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Monday, 19 January 2015 13:50 (eight years ago) link

leaked a few weeks ago, it's great.

ANU (sisilafami), Monday, 19 January 2015 17:26 (eight years ago) link

eight months pass...

She has released another record this year. It's two tracks of just her on the saxophone, very stark stuff, and it's great.

moans and feedback (Dinsdale), Saturday, 26 September 2015 20:44 (eight years ago) link

yeah that one's good

j., Saturday, 26 September 2015 20:48 (eight years ago) link

going to see her in a fairly small venue in a couple of weeks, excited about that one

Ray Chard (NickB), Saturday, 26 September 2015 20:50 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...

Thinking of going to see her in a couple of weeks. Has anyone seen her recently? Or know what this tour may entail? E.g., just her and a sax? I can't seem to find much info online. Her albums are great - curious to hear how they translate to a live performance, or if her live shows are more improvisational.

Federico Boswarlos, Tuesday, 9 May 2017 18:21 (six years ago) link

I saw her a few weeks ago, opening for Supersilent in NYC. The show I saw was just her and the saxophone, though she sometimes brings pedals, video projections, etc. If it's just her, expect short improvised pieces and plenty of audience engagement - personal stories and monologues which lead into and out of the music, and she sometimes does this thing where she gets the audience to hum at a specific pitch, conducting them up and down with arm gestures and using that hum as the basis for improvisation. It's a lot of fun and really cool.

Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Violent J (誤訳侮辱), Tuesday, 9 May 2017 18:30 (six years ago) link

Cool, that sounds great! I'm going to try and go.

Federico Boswarlos, Wednesday, 10 May 2017 20:56 (six years ago) link

I just got hip to "Coin Coin" in the last few months, probably becuz if you had told me that one of the best jazz records in recent memory was coming out on Constellation my eyes would have rolled so hard they would have fallen out of my head and out into the street where they would have tripped people, but so the record is amazing.

chr1sb3singer, Wednesday, 10 May 2017 21:08 (six years ago) link

two years pass...’-river-run-thee

j., Wednesday, 19 June 2019 04:15 (four years ago) link

Chapter 4 coming in October.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 19 June 2019 11:19 (four years ago) link

three months pass...

I saw Matana in a church in east London yesterday evening. It was mostly a modular synth set with a few bits of organ and some (not enough!) bluesy sax. It wasn't entirely successful: the bed she set up wasn't that interesting and the weird sound mix meant we couldn't really hear her. Some of this was intentional 'drowning' of voices (I think) but it was an odd set-up. There was a section where she started a call-and-response, with the audience intoning 'our souls'; this being east London, it quite quickly became 'arseholes', which detracted from the mood a bit. Who knows - perhaps it was meant to be a Derek and Clive tribute?

Short version: lovely venue, a pleasure to be in her company, not entirely successful.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of string (Chinaski), Saturday, 5 October 2019 19:47 (four years ago) link


j., Thursday, 17 October 2019 05:17 (four years ago) link

I like what I've heard from it

Dan S, Thursday, 17 October 2019 05:32 (four years ago) link

so ready for this!

( X '____' )/ (zappi), Thursday, 17 October 2019 07:23 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

I'm listening to Gris Gris by Dr. John for the first time in a while and I'd forgotten just how much Coin Coin Chapter 1 calls back to this record. "Danse Kalinda Ba Doom" is the obvious one but there are bits from "Danse Fambeaux" in there as well.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Saturday, 4 September 2021 09:46 (two years ago) link

I'm listening to Gris Gris by Dr. John for the first time in a while and I'd forgotten just how much Coin Coin Chapter 1 calls back to this record. "Danse Kalinda Ba Doom" is the obvious one but there are bits from "Danse Fambeaux" in there as well.

Oh wow! Never heard that in any review or interview with Roberts. I will have to re-listen to both in succession.

Derek and Clive Get the Horn Street (Boring, Maryland), Saturday, 4 September 2021 14:38 (two years ago) link

I'm not going mad right - the references are pretty obvious?

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Sunday, 5 September 2021 13:26 (two years ago) link

I’ll be able to give a close listen once the long weekend is over…

Derek and Clive Get the Horn Street (Boring, Maryland), Sunday, 5 September 2021 15:27 (two years ago) link

It's not an exact quote, but I think you're right that 'I Am' refers to Kalinda- it makes too much sense to be a coincidence.

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Sunday, 5 September 2021 16:11 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the Garden... is coming out at the end of this month and it's fucking incredible.

Pretty stunning list of personnel:

Matana Roberts (composer / horns / harmonicas / aux percussion / vocal / wordspeak)
Mike Pride (drums / aux percussion / vocal)
Matt Lavelle (alto clarinet / pocket trumpet / tin whistle / vocal)
Stuart Bogie (bass clarinet / clarinet / tin whistle / vocal)
Cory Smythe (piano / vocal / tin whistle)
Mazz Swift (violin / vocal/ tin whistle)
Darius Jones (alto sax / tin whistle / vocal)
Ryan Sawyer (drums / aux percussion / vocal)
Gitanjali Jain (text collage)
Kyp Malone (synths)
Jaimie Branch (Courage 1983-2022)

I can't even describe it. Listening to it on headphones is like having your brain hijacked and hearing someone whisper their (nightmarish) story directly into your mind. I'm including it in my Stereogum column though it is in no way a "jazz" record — it's ultra complex theatrical art that has a few saxophone solos.

read-only (unperson), Monday, 11 September 2023 21:32 (two months ago) link

It's a stunning record, perhaps the best in the series to date. To declare an interest, I wrote the promotional copy, so I had the privilege of hearing it early and talking to Matana in depth about it. But I can honestly say that it's an incredible piece of work. The interplay between Matana and Darius Jones is incredibly powerful - he brings the really raw, expressive stuff, while Matana is more lyrical. It's interesting you say it's not a jazz record as such. Matana was keen to emphasise its roots in new music practice, the influence of Cage, Cunningham, Amacher et al. Hopefully that's something that they'll get to elaborate on in forthcoming interviews.

Composition 40b (Stew), Monday, 11 September 2023 21:49 (two months ago) link

can't wait

deep wubs and tribral rhythms (Boring, Maryland), Monday, 11 September 2023 23:35 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

Love their new album and loved the Tone Glow interview:

I would prefer not to. (Chinaski), Sunday, 19 November 2023 17:51 (one week ago) link

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