♦      “Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis is like the other three Coin Coins inasmuch as it’s marked by a tumbling of psychic and cosmic ephemera... This effort, however, feels firmer, and more fulgid. The force of Roberts’ breath — first through the saxophone, all endurance and fits and starts; then through time, inflated and vivified — makes bold how much the retelling of history is a necessary game of survival.” — Pitchfork (8.3)
Born: 1975
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Recording Location: Breakgluss in Montréal, Québec
Album release: 18 October 2019
Record Label: Constellation
Duration:     58:55
01. jewels of the sky: inscription   1:48
02. as far as eyes can see   4:03
03. trail of the smiling sphinx   9:43
04. piddling   2:29
05. shoes of gold   3:07
06. wild fire bare   5:41
07. fit to be tied   2:41
08. her mighty waters run   4:57
09. all things beautiful   2:30
10. in the fold   3:16
11. raise yourself up   2:44
12. backbone once more   0:51
13. how bright they shine   2:50
14. raise yourself up / backbone once more / how bright they shine   6:26
15. her mighty waters run / wild fire bare / fit to be tied   5:44
Matana Roberts: alto sax, clarinet, wordspeak, voice
Hannah Marcus: electric guitar, nylon string guitar, fiddle, accordion, voice
Sam Shalabi: electric guitar, oud, voice
Nicolas Caloia: double bass, voice
Ryan Sawyer: drumset, vibraphone, jaw harp, bells, voice
Steve Swell: trombone, voice
Ryan White: vibraphone
Thierry Amar: voice
Nadia Moss: voice
Jessica Moss: voice
Recorded at Break Glass studios in Montréal, Québec by Jace Lasek, assisted by Dave Smith
Mixed at Thee Mighty Hotel2Tango in Montréal, Québec by Radwan Moumneh
Mastered at Greymarket in Montréal, Québec by Harris Newman
Thierry Amar Voices
Nicolas Caloia Double Bass, Voices
W.C. Handy Arranger
Ian Ilavsky Voices
Jace Lasek Engineer
Hannah Marcus Accordion, Fiddle, Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Nylon String), Voices
Jessica Moss Voices
Nadia Moss Voices
Radwan Ghazi Moumneh Mixing
Harris Newman Mastering
Matana Roberts Clarinet, Sax (Alto), Speech/Speaker/Speaking Part, Voices
Ryan Sawyer Bells, Drum Set, Jaw Harp, Vibraphone, Voices
Sam Shalabi Guitar (Electric), Oud, Voices
Dave Smith Assistant
Steve Swell Trombone, Voices
Ryan White Vibraphone
♦   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 modern/avant 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 emphasizes non~male subjects and thematizes 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 instalment in this projected twelve~part Gesamtkunstwerk.
♦   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.”
♦   “Throughout the [Coin Coin]project thus far, Roberts has used her music as a medium through which to explore the liminal zones between lore and history that define the ways in which we understand ourselves in the present. Primarily interrogating her own sense of identity as an African American woman, Roberts calls upon numerous other voices — from her family’s history, her culture’s mythology — to create not historical documents but living artifacts of collective cultural memory: simultaneously disorienting and exhilarating in their chaotic multiplicity.” — The Quietus