Beginner's Guide to Drum'n'Bass Vol. II

John Luther Adams
Monty Adkins
Eric Chenaux
Sarah Davachi
A. Die & Lorenzo Montana
Dikeman / Serries
Ricardo Donoso
Terence Fixmer
Hotel Neon
Islands Of Light
Fernando Lagreca
Lake People
K. Leimer
Daniel Lentz
Rudresh Mahanthappa
Tesla Manaf
Metcalf, Roach & Thomas
David Michael / Slavek Kwi
James Murray
Áine O'Dwyer
Fabio Orsi
Matana Roberts
Nadia Shpachenko
Subtle Lip Can
Robert Scott Thompson
Christian Wallumrød
Woven Entity
Yodok III

Compilations / Mixes
Joseph Capriati
Nina Kraviz

EPs / Cassettes / DVDs / Mini-Albums / Singles
Digital, D. Phiz., Response
Igorrr & Ruby My Dear
Rima Kato
Mako, Villem & Mcleod
Second Moon Of Winter
Manfred Waffender

Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee

Matana Roberts' river run thee, the third installment in the avant-jazz provocateur's Coin Coin series, departs dramatically from the ensemble approach of 2013's second chapter Mississippi Moonchile. Whereas it features Roberts' alto sax playing augmented by that of pianist Shoko Nagai, trumpeter Jason Palmer, double bassist Thomson Kneeland, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, the new one finds Roberts creating the next chapter in her projected twelve-part series alone. The new material is as densely layered as any that's come before, however, with the Chicago-born, New York City-based composer weaving instrument sounds (alto sax, synthesizers, upright piano), voice samples (Malcolm X at a Detroit auditorium in 1965; Gertrude, a homeless woman in downtown Jackson, Mississippi), and Roberts' own sung and spoken musings into a heady, long-form phantasmagoria.

Exemplifying the “panoramic sound quilting” character of Roberts' Coin Coin project, river run thee plays like a stream-of-consciousness-styled fever dream where voices, instrument sounds, and familiar songs intermingle. In addition to the aforementioned elements, the recording includes sound samples taken from a field recording Roberts made during a twenty-five-day road trip through Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, and New York City (whereupon historical and documentary information for the recording was collected) as well as traditional songs such as “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Star Spangled Banner,” “Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing,” “My Country Tis of Thee,” and “All the Pretty Horses.” Though the forty-six-minute tapestry consists of twelve indexed tracks, it unfolds without interruption. Vocal musings and recitations appear amidst a swamp-like flow of background voices, wordless choirs, field recordings, and the bleat of Roberts' jazzy saxophone playing. The instrument wends a serpentine path throughout much of the recording, and the style of Roberts' sax playing often resembles Ornette's; in fact, the effect of the voice-sax combination on river run thee at times calls to mind the same combination as it appears in Ornette's music (e.g., “Search For Life” on Tone Dialing and “What Reason Could I Give” on Science Fiction).

The sense of spontaneity exuded by Roberts' material can be traced in part to the production approach. Recording at Montreal's Hotel2Tango studio and aided by engineer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, she added overdubs to the river run thee tape in real-time over the course of multiple run-throughs. Such a live approach lends the result a loose, improv-like feel that works with rather than against the material's predetermined structural design. Engaging on purely sonic grounds, the recording assumes historical weight in its incorporation of political content and traditional American songs. Admittedly there are moments when the sound field grows overly dense, such as when a roaring industrial rhythm overshadows the other elements in “Come Away.” But such moments are rare, and one comes away from the recording impressed with Roberts for bringing this bold and adventurous chapter into being. The territory she's charting in her Coin Coin cycle is as personalized and idiosyncratic as could possibly be imagined, and we're all the more fortunate for it being so.

February 2015