Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile
COIN COIN Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile is the much-anticipated new installment of Matana Roberts' unique and forward-looking project and it finds Roberts conjuring some of the most nuanced, thoughtful and substantial American liberation music of the 21st century.Mississippi Moonchile was developed for an intimately woven New York jazz sextet and represents the next leap forward in Roberts' iconoclastic and complex project of memory and recuperation, where historical and contemporary musical tropes, fragmentary spoken and sung narratives, and Matana's cascading alto saxophone are supported by prodigiously talented players.Chapter Two unfolds as a cohesive album-length piece, playing with notions of dignity, rarefaction and restraint. The six players are in a perpetual motion of coalescence and divergence, where melodic themes, occasional ostinato passages, and variously deployed literal voices serve to rally the overriding theme of individual narratives and personal expressions as struggles with, celebrations of and threads within collective history. The contortions of empowerment, pride, shame, suffering, eulogy, empathy, liberation and transcendence are Matana's raw material in the broadest and most specific senses; she has given this raw material another beautiful and compelling shape in the second chapter of the COIN COIN story.
Roberts & Lord: Eponymous
A supercombo team-up between Simon Lord (ex Simian) and Rafter Roberts, the Roberts and Lord duo present their Asthmatic Kitty debut,Eponymous! Roberts' rough and grimy (yet complexly arranged) analog backing tracks paired with Lord's clean, digitally-recorded vocals, gives these songs a tricky kind of depth that is immediately engaging. This effortless juxtaposition reigns throughout these 35 some-odd minutes. The album begins with “Mosquito,” a perfect example and touchstone of Roberts' loud, garage rocky, blown-outness paired with structure well-thought-out (but never lingered upon). Simon's lyrics tell the story of a man's love for a mosquito, his vocals backed by a crunchy oil-drum thunk of beats (a theme of this record.) Simon's lyric writing on “Mosquito” sets the tone for what's to come—and the tone is FUN. Influenced by nonsense verse poets like Ivor Cutler and Edward Lear, Lord gives us a simple, light-hearted return to innocence, a goodly love for good love, the capital F feel-goodness compressed into a chorus, the sweaty exuberance of a solid dance party with all your friends around you. And thus we present Roberts and Lord's Eponymous!
Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres
Matana Roberts is one of the leading lights of contemporary African-American experimental music, combining her widely recognized gifts as an alto saxophone player and improviser with an intensely engaged re-definition of American Jazz traditions.
Matana's COIN COIN project is the centerpiece of this engagement and re-definition: a multi-chapter work that combines conceptual scoring (graphic notation, 'chance' strategies), storytelling and historical narrative, performative theatre (personae, costume, multi-media), and a deeply considered channeling of personal ancestry and the 'universal' experience of Africans in America.
COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens De Couleur Libre is the first official recording of this ambitious and powerful project. We invited Matana to assemble her Montreal group for a live in-studio performance at the Hotel2Tango facility, before a small but capacity audience of about 30 friends and supporters. The performance was stunning, literally bringing audience members to tears, and went to tape beautifully. The full 90-minute performance was then edited down to around 60 minutes.
While it may sound trite, we truly feel this music speaks for itself. It rallies adventurous improv, experimental voice and narrative, a wide array of black folkways, and Matana's impassioned lead playing to tremendous emotional and conceptual effect.
Alasdair Roberts: The Crook of My Arm
From the fertile urban trench known as Glasgow, Scotland, comes a knight on horseback. He wears not the cloth of his more famous neighbors -- the Belle & Sebastians, Pastels, Arab Straps and Mogwais. No, this knight comes trotting out of camp with nary a stitch on his body. Bearded and weary, he's got the look of a convalescent after a long night of hard rain. This isn't your father's round table story. There's a new lord in town and his name is Alasdair Roberts. Most know him from the few beautiful records he's recorded with his band Appendix Out (THE RYE BEARS A POISON, DAYLIGHT SAVING and THE NIGHT IS ADVANCING). He also recently played a role on the debut International Airport full-length, as well as repeated appearances on Songs: Ohia records. On this, his debut solo album, he offers twelve traditional Scottish, English and Irish songs, unaccompanied by anything other than his voice and guitar.A word from Alasdair Roberts on THE CROOK OF MY ARM:When I began to gather together some of my favourite old songs with a view to making a record out of them, it didn't occur to me initially that most of them were love songs and ballads. I still don't know why I was, subconsciously or otherwise, drawn to such material. True, the love expressed in many of these songs is often unrequited or tragic (there are many deaths on this record), but they are love songs nonetheless: at times beautiful, at times sick, and frequently both at the same time.Moreover, it was only after the recording session that I could see how this record could be considered a "suite" of songs (although making a "concept album" in the conventional sense was not my intention at the time). With hindsight, the connections between songs became more apparent. It even seems as if the very same characters turn up again and again in different songs: is the Nancy of "Bonnie Lass Among The Heather" the same Nancy as in "Master Kilby"? Is the long-lost lover of "Standing In Yon Flow'ry Garden" the same young sailor feared drowned in "Lowlands"? The themes are age-old, the situations and characters universal, archetypal. They gain their power from the fact that we have all experienced the beauty and sickness of love; and so each listener breathes his or her own life into the phantoms which populate the songs. Similarly, the performer is charged with the task of reanimating their dark and ancient heart, and in this regard I am greatly indebted to the many fine Scottish, English and Irish singers whose interpretations of the songs inspired my own. For the most part, I have stayed fairly true to the songs as I first heard them, only occasionally modifying a tune or editing a lyric (and in the case of "As I Came In By Huntly Town", derived from the Aberdeenshire ballad "Bogie's Bonnie Belle", rewriting most of the melody). I also took the liberty of changing some geographical locations. Such tactics are, of course, likely to infuriate certain sections of the "traditional music" orthodoxy. On the other hand, underground rock music (a genre to which this record may or may not belong) places such a premium on the notion of artistic "originality" and "innovation" that many fans might dismiss the relevance of playing this supposedly long-dead music. In my own defence, I would cite Roland Barthes' point in "The Death Of The Author" that in some societies "the responsibility for a narrative is never assumed by a person but by a mediator, shaman or relator whose 'performance' -- the mastery of the narrative code -- may possibly be admired but never his genius." I would liken the subtle re- or de-formation of the songs in individual performances to the way years of footsteps gradually and imperceptibly wear down and remould a staircase. Release date: 04/02/01