Roberts has been called “a major talent” (The Wire) and “the spokeswoman for a new, politically conscious and refractory Jazz scene” (Jazzthetik). Her Coin Coin work has been widely and highly praised for its stylistic innovations and narrative power. Noted music critic Peter Margasak has written of Coin Coin: “Memory is a powerful thing, but it's so private, fluid, and unreliable that it can seem almost impossible to capture in a work of art—and history is often no more stable, once you look closely enough. Roberts has succeeded at evoking both, though, and gives her audience a long look at something ghostly, tragic, and beautiful. She is carving out her own aesthetic space, startling in its originality and gripping in its historic and social power.”
A self-taught mixed media composer, the Chicago-raised and New York City-based Roberts earned two degrees in performance from a smattering of American institutions but received her main training from free arts programs in the American Public School System. She is a past member of the Black Rock Coalition (BRC) and the The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). She has been a Van Lier Fellow, a Brecht Forum Fellow, a Copeland Fellow, a Jazz Makes Fellow, an ICASP fellow, a 2013 FCA fellow and a seven-time Alpert Award In The Arts nominee, receiving the award in 2014. She has been invited to teach, lecture, run workshops and/or take up artistic residencies in countless places under diverse conditions and with diverse communities over the past decade and is a past faculty member of the Banff Creative Music Workshop, School for Improvised Music, and Bard College MFA, where she was co-chair of the Music and Sound Department 2011-12. Roberts won the Doris Duke Impact Award in 2014.
Roberts has played with and alongside Rob Mazurek, Myra Melford, Vijay Iyer, Roscoe Mitchell, Greg Tate, Nicole Mitchell, Henry Grimes, Kyp Malone, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jayne Cortez, Seb Rochford, Fred Anderson, Latasha Diggs, George Lewis, Tyshawn Sorey, David Berhman, Pauline Oliveros, Reg E. Gaines, Daniel Givens, Savion Glover, Anthony Braxton, Kid Lucky, Liberty Ellman, Amina Claudine Meyers, Jeff Parker, Handsome Furs, Robert Mitchell, Quest Love, Julius Hemphill Sextet, Merce Cunningham, Joe Maneri, Beans, Bill T Jones, Josh Abrams, Chad Taylor, Dave Douglas and John Herndon among many others. She has recorded as a guest musician with rock, pop and electronic groups as diverse as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, TV On The Radio, Savath & Savalas, Thee Silver Mt. Zion, and performance artists My Barbarian.
Of her work, Matana says the following:
“At my artistic core, I am firmly dedicated to creating a unique and very personal experiential body of sound work that speaks to, and reminds people of all walks of life to reach, stand up, give voice, regardless of difference, created from mere labels of intellectual classification. In my ideal world the idea of 'difference', is an illusion designed only for the purpose of modern economic division and elitist intellectual hierarchy. Through my life's work, I stand creatively in defiance.”
To nobody's surprise, upon its February 3 release, Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee was met with widespread critical acclaim. Here's a quick roundup of some of our favourites:
TINY MIX TAPES: "As a critic and as a listener, I can’t commend enough how exquisitely Matana Roberts masters sound on river run thee; her horn sounds as idiosyncratic and expressive as ever, her foray into electroacoustic improvisation and noise is not only brave but also physiologically stunning. COIN COIN Chapter Three’s greatest triumph, however, is that it also actively challenges how we interact with art, how we view authorship in a landscape made up of recycled sound objects, and how we view an entire continent’s history from our own positions. I don’t intend on providing a critical alternative here, and providing answers isn’t what river run thee was designed for. It does, however, provide a blueprint for conceptualizing sound (in all its traditional and deviant forms) as a form of expression and for making sense of future histories as intersections of voices, many of which still suffer from a history of laryngitis. It is for all of these reasons (and those yet undiscovered) that COIN COIN Chapter Three: river run thee is infinite and indispensable in its cultural worth and true-ly timeless and comprehensive in its scope. A masterwork of human history, still in progress."
PITCHFORK: "Something of a one-woman opera, these 12 tracks plow through harsh noise passages and spring into sudden refrains, drift through halcyon field recordings and float through harrowing spoken-word passages... Late into river run thee, during one of the album’s more placid moments, Roberts declares, "I like to tell stories." The admission might suggest an easy key to the world that Roberts is building with COIN COIN. But it seems too reductive, really, not unlike calling her a mere musician. She collects stories, analyzes them, and then transmogrifies them, aggregating bits of material until anecdotes become open-ended, elliptical histories. Roberts knows that any story, just like jazz, is only an initial approach to something much more broad and important. Three albums into COIN COIN, it’s now clear that Roberts isn’t just a storyteller, musician, ethnographer, historian, bandleader, arranger, improviser, or activist. She plays all of those roles, yes; collectively, they power one of the most provocative ongoing bodies of work by any American musician."
THE WIRE: "Part three of Matana Roberts' ongoing 'Coin Coin' series sees her reaching new heights of troubling majesty. Or rather, new depths, given the churning, oceanic feel that underlies these multilayered tales of slavery, courage, tradition, history and counter-history. The first two chapters in the series fell somewhere between, above and below free jazz. Her 'panoramic sound quilting', as she describes her method, created historical narratives with multiple instrumentalists, operatic incursions and the persistent reminder of musical and historical debts. But this third chapter sees Roberts in solitary, vocal-heavy mode, without an ensemble but producing looped music such sustained complexity it's like a host of angels (or demons) attempting to express the entire history of everything all at once."
THE QUIETUS:: "river run thee is an extraordinary sonic collage, constructed from loops, field recordings and live overdubs. As to whether this is jazz or not, who cares? What matters is the music - and it is remarkable, weaving together saxophone improv, folk fragments, poetry, accounts of the slave trade and personal testimonies in an approach she calls 'panoramic sound quilting'. Working from an elaborate graphic score that incorporates photographs, archival texts and musical notation, Roberts layers her own sung and spoken vocals, saxophone and electronics into a rhizomatic work that disrupts linear narratives and maps points across time. Yet for all its openness of form, River Run Thee is not some amorphous piece of sound art. It's a deeply compelling work, with a true sense of momentum... An astonishing work of history, memory and sensed experience, River Run Thee confirms Roberts' place as one of the most important living artists in any field."
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: "This is ghost music in the purest sense, because the spirits of those who were commingle with those who are, and both are disembodied and dislocated by the false notions of time and dimension. They inform a multi-linguistic conversation that shapeshifts in and out of the mythologies that America has, and does, believe about itself. All told, "other" histories speak with the same authority as official ones. River Run Thee ups the ante in Roberts' project. It is initially elliptical, but its self-determination, unflinching courage, and intense focus and openness create an indefinable but living, breathing art."
Ahead of the release of Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee, AdHoc has published a great in-depth interview with Matana Roberts, taking in the album's conceptual development and recording processes, Matana's recent travels around the American South, and racism, police brutality and the media in the United States. Of the album, Adhoc said:
"The conceptual background of river run thee incorporates a sojourn through the American South, the discovery of a 200-year-old ship captain’s diary, and seamlessely layered graphic scores, spoken word and live overdubs. In the hands of a lesser artist, these disparate elements might result in a confounding cacophony or simply a well-intentioned but over-ambitious "difficult album," but Roberts grounds river run thee in the human and the narrative, weaving her voice and a variety of melodies through the "panoramic sound quilting" that distinguishes her work. river run thee is another work of visceral sonic power and staggering depth from one of the continent’s most profound experimentalists (her term)."
Head over to AdHoc now to read the interview.
river run thee, the third installment in Matana Roberts' acclaimed Coin Coin series, is now two weeks away from release. Until then, the album will be streaming in its entirety at The Guardian.
In their just-published review of the album, The Wire say: "Part three of Matana Roberts' ongoing Coin Coin series sees her reaching new heights of troubling majesty. Or rather, new depths, given the churning, oceanic feel that underlies these multilayered tales of slavery, courage, tradition, history and counter-history. The first two chapters in the series fell somewhere between, above and below free jazz. Her 'panoramic sound quilting', as she describes her method, created historical narratives with multiple instrumentalists, operatic incursions and the persistent reminder of musical and historical debts. But this third chapter sees Roberts in solitary, vocal-heavy mode, without an ensemble but producing looped music such sustained complexity it's like a host of angels (or demons) attempting to express the entire history of everything all at once."
Head over to The Guardian now to listen:
MATANA ROBERTS - Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee (via The Guardian)
Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee releases February 03. Click here for the full run-down and preorder options. If you're in New York, Matana will perform a release-day show at Brooklyn's Union pool, alongside Kyp Malone's Rain Machine and a trio of Ryan Sawyer, Nate Wooley, & C. Spencer Yeh. Tickets are available here.
Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee
CST110 180gLP / CD / DL
Out 03 February 2015
AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW
Here's our next new release on the way in 2015: river run thee, the third installment in Matana Roberts' visionary Coin Coin series. The album follows 2011's Gens de couleur libres and 2013's Mississippi Moonchile, both genre-exploding ensemble works showered with widespread critical acclaim.
With Chapter Three Roberts presents a solo work, building a hallucinatory and hypnotic soundworld from layered streams of sung and spoken vocals, pure and processed saxophone, drones, noise, sampler/fx pedals and field recordings.
Coinciding with the new album, Matana will be living on a tiny houseboat in Brooklyn for the next several months, and has launched a new blog to act as a sort of "digital ship's log" where she'll gather observations and reflections that further develop themes presented on the record. Check it out and check back often.
Head to our RELEASE PAGE for full album info and preorder options.
Listen to album excerpt "always say your name / nema, nema, nema":
COIN COIN CHAPTER THREE: RIVER RUN THEE
Matana Roberts is one of the most acclaimed, socio-politically conscious and aesthetically intrepid experimental sound practitioners of the 21st century. Her multi-chapter Coin Coin work, which Constellation began documenting in 2011 with Gens de couleur libres, has placed her at the forefront of stylistic innovation and radicalization, while confirming the deep substance and soul that guides her compositional agenda. Following the critical accolades that the first two Coin Coin chapters have thus far received, the past year has been marked by further career-defining recognition for her body of iconoclastic work: Roberts was a recipient of both the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and the Daisy Duke Impact Award in 2014.
Roberts has long employed the phrase “panoramic sound quilting” to describe the process surrounding her Coin Coin work. The third chapter in her Coin Coin series finds Roberts implementing this metaphor most explicitly, constructing a sound art tapestry from field recordings, loop and effects pedals, and spoken word recitations, alongside her saxophone and singing voices. Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee could arguably be considered first and foremost a vocal work, and notwithstanding its experimental and esoteric structure, a deeply narrative work as well. Not unlike 2013’s Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile, the new chapter unfolds as an uninterrupted album-length flow, this time in what Roberts calls “a fever dream” of sonic material, woven in surrealist fashion. Fragments of traditional song act as the main touchstones on the album, with Roberts’ singing voice riding atop waves of radiophonic texture, layered spoken word and an often dislocated, wandering horn.
Working once again with engineer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, and returning again to Montreal's Hotel2Tango studio (the location for her Chapter One recording in 2010), Roberts ran the river run thee tape back multiple times, adding new layers in real time, from start to finish (as opposed to calculated, isolated overdubs). The result is a visceral audio document that combines structure and improvisation in the fullest sense: not just in the playing and performing, but in the very marrow of the work's compositional DNA. It is also, for the first time in the Coin Coin cycle, a solo work, emerging from a lengthy solitary road trip Roberts took through the American South in early 2014, amassing historical and documentary information through interviews, site visits and field recordings.
Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee signals yet another highly adventurous and socially engaged definition of what Jazz can mean in this day and age, and a fascinating extension of the Coin Coin cycle, where rather than surfacing and reactivating through the group dynamics of a musical ensemble, history is inhaled and exhaled through a solitary practice seeking to evoke and echo its tangled thicket of febrile strands.
Thanks for listening.
TUESDAY 03 SEPTEMBER
Esmerine + Matana Roberts + Kingdom Shore
Ottawa • First Baptist Church • INFO/TICKETS
Doors 7:00pm / Show 7:30pm
WEDNESDAY 04 SEPTEMBER
Esmerine + Matana Roberts + Kingdom Shore
Montréal • Sala Rossa • INFO/TICKETS
Doors 8:00pm / Show 8:30pm
Esmerine celebrate the release of their new album Dalmak with very special live pearformances featuring an expanded 8-piece line-up. Co-founders Bruce Cawdron (ex-Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and Beckie Foon (Saltland, ex-Silver Mt. Zion), along with Jamie Thompson (ex-Unicorns, ex-Islands) and Brian Sanderson, are joined for these shows by visiting musicians Hakan Vreskala and James Hakan Dedeoglu (two of the Turkish players who helped them record Dalmak in Istanbul last year) and Montréalers Hraïr Hratchian and Jérémi Roy.
This band will be on fire!
Esmerine is proud to be joined by the acclaimed and inimitable Matana Roberts, who travels north from her current home in Harlem to present new solo interpretations of her devastatingly literate liberation music project COIN COIN, following a recent performance in this capacity at the Whitney Museum in New York.
Esmerine is also thrilled to have Ottawa-resident Mark Molnar's contemporary-chamber-meets-electronics ensemble Kingdom Shore open these shows.
It'll be a great night of music.
Please join us if you can.
Constellation will be presenting a lovely evening of music at The Great Hall in Toronto on Thursday, September 5th. A very special line-up and advance tickets are only $15.
UPDATE: NYC-based avant-jazz composer and saxophonist Matana Roberts and Rebecca Foon's Saltland have both been confirmed to participate, while Colin Stetson (who was previously announced as part of this bill) has been forced to cancel all his September performances due to a broken finger suffered in mid-August that will sideline him for 4-6 weeks. We wish him a smooth and speedy recovery.
BUY TICKETS ONLINE HERE
Tickets are also available at Rotate This, Soundscapes and The Horseshoe Tavern.
Here are all the details...
A NIGHT IN TORONTO
Dundasa 80 (Sandro Perri + Craig Dunsmuir)
Jerusalem In My Heart
Thursday September 5th
The Great Hall
8pm doors / 8:30pm showtime
Presented in association with Musicworks and The Music Gallery.
Jerusalem In My Heart
The first-ever Toronto performance by this modern Arabic music/multi-media project, with Radwan Moumneh on voice, buzuk and sequencers and Malena Szlam on multiple 16mm film projections. Presenting material from their acclaimed debut album Mo7it Al-Mo7it released in spring 2013, following years of site-specific live and theatrical performances in Montreal.
The new iteration and current moniker for the duo of Sandro Perri and Craig Dunsmuir, following their previous collaborative work as Glissandro 70. Perri's "electronic" bona fides were established long ago during his Polmo Polpo years and Dunsmuir is similarly (though more secretly) known for his years of self-released music as Kanada 70. Dundasa 80 is on this shared and superb continuum; this will be a live debut for the project.
A return engagement for Saltland in Toronto, following a lovely set opening for Spencer Krug at the Conversation Room back in May. Rebecca Foon played solo for that performance, but at the Constellation Night she'll be joined by her collaborator Jamie Thompson (Unicorns, Islands) on percussion, electronics and singal processing. Saltland's gorgeous debut album came out this past spring.
One of the most fearless, original and politically engaged musicians working in contemporary jazz, Roberts has received superlative critical accolades for her latest project, Coin Coin. Chapter One of this extended work – which combines composition using graphic scores and chance, free improvisation, African-American folk, and spoken word – was widely touted as one of the best avant/jazz albums of 2011. In advance of the release of Chapter Two later this fall, Matana will channel the Coin Coin narrative in a solo performance that she most recently presented at the Whitney Museum in New York.
The instrumental cello and marimba duo co-founded over a decade ago by Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Silver Mt Zion, Set Fire To Flames) will present music from their forthcoming Dalmak album with a scorching 8-piece band including visiting musicians from Turkey with whom they worked on the Dalmak recordings in Istanbul last year.
This will also be an opportunity to check out an on-site Constellation records stall with a wide selection of CDs and deluxe 180gLPs specially priced.
Presented by Constellation in association with Musicworks, The Music Gallery and Collective Concerts.
We're proud to be part of the Sweet Magic London Festival in London, Ontario this year – a truly independent DIY music and arts celebration now in it's second year.
Presented by Sweet Magic London, The McIntosh Gallery and The Aeolian Hall, there will be three Constellation artists appearing at one of Canada's best-sounding rooms:
Esmerine (with their sizzling 8-piece «Dalmak» band)
Matana Roberts (in solo multi-media performance)
Jerusalem In My Heart (with 16mm film projections)
The Aeolian Hall
795 Dundas St. E.
London ON N5W 2Z6
This will be a great night of music (and images) in a superlative venue.
Tickets are $20 advance / $15 student / $25 door.
Tickets available online here.
Or by phone at 519-672-7950 or in person at The Aeolian Box Office.
($2 service charge may apply.)
Tickets are also available at Grooves and The Village Idiot.
You can also request tickets, and find more information, at:
Next week, Constellation will be presenting concerts in Toronto and London (Ontario) featuring a breathtaking line-up of artists who have recent or forthcoming releases on the label; in particular, these shows will serve as the official launch of Esmerine's new album, Dalmak.
Matana Roberts and Saltland are the latest confirmations and additions to these label nights, alonside Esmerine, Jerusalem In My Heart and, in Toronto, Dundasa 80 (a duo of Sandro Perri and Craig Dunsmuir). Esmerine will also play the Festival de musique émergente in Rouyn-Noranda, the Guelph Jazz Festival, and release shows in Ottawa and Montreal featuring Matana Roberts and Ottawa-based experimental string sextet Kingdom Shore.
Clearly, these shows will be stellar. See below for more info, the full date listing, and audio/video samples.
The instrumental chamber quartet founded by Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cawdron and Silver Mt Zion cellist Rebecca Foon, will be expanding to an 8-piece band for these performances, in support of their new album Dalmak (out September 2nd). Recorded partly in Istanbul, the record features a number of guest musicians on Turkish/Kurdish/Armenian instruments; the Dalmak live band will include players on duduk, saz, bendir and darbuka for Esmerine's full run of Canadian album launch shows (listed below), in addition to the Constellation label nights.
• LISTEN: "Translator's Clos Part II" (edit)
• LISTEN:"Barn Board Fire"
Matana will present a solo multi-media performance based upon her majestic Coin Coin work and in anticipation of the release of Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (out October 1st). These performances follow from her recent appearance at the Whitney Museum in New York where she combined saxophone, wordspeak and audio/visual triggers in a powerful expression of her Coin Coin material. Matana's Coin Coin Chapter One from 2011 garnered high accolades from NPR, BBC, Village Voice, The Wire, Spin, Jazzthetik and many others. She is a two-time Alpert Award in the Arts nominee and a Foundation of Contemporary Arts award-winner in 2013. Matana will also perform at Esmerine's album release shows in Montreal and Ottawa.
• LISTEN: "amma jerusalem school" + "for this is"
• WATCH: "Mississippi Moonchile"
JERUSALEM IN MY HEART
Jerusalem In My Heart will make its live debut in Toronto and London with an immersive set of modern contemporary Arabic music combining vocals, drones, electronics and buzuk. The performance is framed by an array of 16mm film loop projections. JIMH's live shows in Montreal over the past decade have become legend; the group's debut album Mo7it Al-Mo7it was released to broad critical acclaim this past spring.
• LISTEN: "Yudaghdegh el-Ra3ey Wala al-Ghanam"
• WATCH: "Amanem"
Saltland is cellist Rebecca Foon's experimental dream-pop project, where cello melodies and drones are looped, processed and recombinated in tandem with ex-Unicorns drummer Jamie Thompson's electronics, programming and live percussion. Mojo magazine's 4-star review of Saltland's 2013 debut album called Foon's voice "an instrument of somnolent, gossamer allure which floats gracefully amid the eddying, amniotic music" while Textura noted an album "crafted with immense care, music of integrity refreshingly free of affectation or trendiness that manages to feel both intimate and epic."
• LISTEN: "ICA"
• WATCH: "Unholy"
APPEARING IN TORONTO ONLY:
Dundasa 80, the brand new collaboration between Sandro Perri and Craig Dunsmuir, will round out the line-up in Toronto with their first-ever live set. Perri is one of Canada's most respected experimental songwriters with two critically-acclaimed albums released under his own name and a prior history as the equally praised Polmo Polpo. Dunsmuir has released a large and impressive series of CD-Rs under his Kanada 70 moniker and previously collaborated with Perri on a 2006 Constellation album as Glissandro 70.
• LISTEN: "Unsold"
APPEARING IN OTTAWA & MONTREAL:
Kingdom Shore is an Ottawa-based sextet summoning stark, complex and fearlessly experimental suites of art noise from assorted strings and electronics. In their own words, "Kingdom Shore was formed in the ruck and warrens of March 2006, beneath the long shadows cast by the punk rock that grew out of 1980’s hardcore, avant and art rock, electro-acoustic music, noise, old world Gospel, and contemporary and left-field music, to take turns at watch so that we may fail well to stave off the malevolent, the narrow of heart, the analogue tastemakers, the dissociate, the ruder forms that survive slackjawed and willfully ignorant at hoarse latitudes, to take pleasure in twilight, to rejoice in waves standing at 19Hz, to refuse the world as a justification of interests in a strategy of slaughter as sold to us, to defy the open nerve of dispossession, to resist inheriting numbness, to give back what little we have received that is good, to rise up and get down, and to draw toward the hearth those who know that the light in this world is not its final ash, and that if you believed in anything, you could not kill another."
The current line-up includes Nathan Medema (pedals, found-sounds and field recordings, laptop, electronics, samples, processing), Simon Guibord (laptop, processing, samples, electronics), Ryan Hough (violin), Jasmine Landau (violin), Gerg Horvath (double-bass), and Mark Molnar (cello, loops, and electronics).
• LISTEN: "Stray Bullets Singing" (excerpt)
• LISTEN: "...and all the dogs to shark" (excerpt)
CONSTELLATION LABEL NIGHTS:
|05.09.13||Toronto, ON||The Great Hall|
Esmerine, Matana Roberts, Jerusalem In My Heart, Saltland, Dundasa 80 (Sandro & Craig)
|07.09.13||London, ON||Aeolian Hall|
Esmerine, Matana Roberts, Jerusalem In My Heart
ESMERINE DALMAK RELEASE SHOWS:
|31.08.13||Rouyn-Noranda, QC||Festival de musique émergente|
|03.09.13||Ottawa, ON||First Baptist Church|
w/ Matana Roberts & Kingdom Shore
|04.09.13||Montreal, QC||La Sala Rossa|
w/ Matana Roberts & Kingdom Shore
|06.09.13||Guelph, ON||St. George's Anglican Church|
Guelph Jazz Festival
COIN COIN Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile
CST098 180gLP/ CD / DL
Out 1 October 2013
AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW.
We're excited to announce the next of our Fall 2013 releases: Mississippi Moonchile, the second installment in Matana Roberts' ongoing COIN COIN project. 2011's COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres was an utterly breathtaking affair, met with widespread critical acclaim and featured on several year-end lists, and Chapter Two constitutes a triumphant and thrilling return of Roberts' utterly unique voice. It'll be in stores October 1.
See below for info, including an audio sample of album tracks "amma jerusalem school" and "for this is", or click here for the full run-down.
COIN COIN Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile is the much-anticipated new installment of Matana Roberts' unique and forward-looking project. Guided by an aesthetic practice she has dubbed 'panoramic sound quilting' (partly in homage to the literal handicraft heritage of her patrilineal line), COIN COIN finds Roberts conjuring some of the most nuanced, thoughtful and substantial American liberation music of the 21st century.
COIN COIN has also been a profoundly generous and collaborative process for Roberts, who has been developing various chapters of the COIN COIN cycle with a wide range of musicians from diverse backgrounds over many years. The hugely acclaimed Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres was the culmination of two years of regular visits to Montréal and featured fifteen musicians assembled from that city's out-jazz, experimental and avant-rock scenes. Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile was developed for a more intimately woven New York jazz sextet and was recorded with this group in late 2012, following several years of local and international performances of the piece with this line-up.
Mississippi Moonchile takes 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 on piano (Shoko Nagai), trumpet (Jason Palmer), double bass (Thomson Kneeland), drums (Tomas Fujiwara) and operatic tenor voice (Jeremiah Abiah). While demarcated by 18 titles and track IDs, the album presents an uninterrupted, incantatory swirl of through-composed music, where thematic structure and free improvisation are propelled in continual and fluid co-existence.
While Chapter One was marked by more defined set pieces, stark juxtapositions, and the epic cacophony of a sprawlingly unconventional big band, Chapter Two unfolds as a cohesive album-length piece unto itself, channeling the drama and catharsis of Gens de couleur libres into something more measured and circumscribed, playing with notions of dignity, rarefaction and restraint. The inclusion of a male operatic singer contributes significantly to the tone and tension of Mississippi Moonchile in this respect, and operates as a fascinating foil to Roberts' own voice, which alternates between splintered 'wordspeak' and deeply soulful singing. The six players are in a perpetual motion of coalescence and divergence, where melodic themes, occasional ostinato passages, and variously deployed literal voices ("There are some things I can't tell you about…") 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.
Thanks for listening.
Bushwick Open Studios (BOS) has a pile of great things going on in this, its seventh year, with a weekend of arts and music stuff rolling out May 31 - June 2.
On June 2nd the "Moving Forward" Bushwick Open Studios Music Festival runs on two stages, one indoor (starting at 5pm) and one outdoor (from 2pm till late). Curated by Ian M Coletti of Vaudeville Park, it's a glorious cascade of performances, including three Constellation-affiliated artists...
That'd be Matana Roberts at 7:30pm and Satland at 8:15pm, playing back-to-back sets on the indoor stage, and Sam Mickens (of The Dead Science fame) playing at 5:00pm on the outdoor stage.
Hit the FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE!
Here's the full slate and schedule:
Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) “Drums and Drones"
Jacob Brunner/ Strawberry Hands
Erika/ Au Revoir Simone (Solo)
Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) & Sara Magenheimer Duo “Free Paint”
“Little Women”- Travis Laplante
Vaudeville - Ian M. Colletti
Roger - Glazz
Constellation celebrates its 15th Anniversary with a series of five mini-festivals in Europe this November: the locations are Bern, Paris, Munich, Vienna and Leipzig, in partnership with some of our favourite venues and partners that have supported the label and its artists over the years,
Go here for an at-a-glance round-up of the line-ups, locations and ticket links.
Read here for a longer post about the events.
See below for a rendering of the commemorative screenprinted poster that will be available at the events (being printed by the Dis-patch Collective from Belgrade, Serbia – whose Constellation artwork exhibit will also be on display in Bern and Vienna) and a little video clip we produced for the celebrations.
The Paris 15th Anniversary CST shows are now sold out.
Information about all CST 15th events can be found HERE.
Nous invitons nos camarades français à prendre note des autres concerts en France en novembre, ainsi que de nos événements à Berne et à Bruxelles...
* * *
While we realise it's a bit of an extra journey for the good people of France, we remind everyone that about 50 passes still remain for the CST fest in Bern, Switzerland.
CST Heartland Festival passes for Bern are available here.
The Bern event is a Constellation takeover of the Heartland Festival and represents an expanded 4-day affair, with a CST art exhibit curated by Dis-patch Collective (Belgrade) and performances by several artists who cannot make the Paris weekend: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Colin Stetson, Hrsta, Nick Kuepfer and Khora.
Details for each night of the Bern event (and single night tickets) can be found HERE.
If you are looking for information about Bern accommodations, we encourage you to contact Dachstock@Reitschule HERE.
* * *
We would also like to note the following Constellation-related concert dates happening in France and Belgium as the label celebrates throughout November with many artists on tour:
DO MAKE SAY THINK
16.11.12 Metz FR Musiques Volantes Festival TIX
SANDRO PERRI + ERIC CHENAUX
15.11.12 Nantes FR Stakhanov
16.11.12 Limoges FR Centre Culturel John Lennon
THEE SILVER MT ZION + MATANA ROBERTS
19.11.12 Tourcoing FR Le Grand Mix TIX
20.11.12 Strassbourg FR La Laterie TIX
14.11.12 Brussels BE Ancienne Belgique VZW TIX
20.11.12 Poitiers FR Confort Moderne TIX
21.11.12 Rennes FR UBU1 TIX
22.11.12 Nantes FR Pôle Etudiant
23.11.12 Gent BE Theaterzaal Vooruit TIX
24.11.12 Rouen FR Le 106 TIX
25.11.12 Tourcoing FR L'Hospice d'Havré - Maison Folie de Tourcoing TIX
DO MAKE SAY THINK + SANDRO PERRI + ERIC CHENAUX
CONSTELLATION LABEL NIGHT @ AUTUMN FALLS FESTIVAL
26.11.12 Brussels BE Atelier 210 TIX
BERN • PARIS • MUNICH • VIENNA • LEIPZIG
As previously announced, this November we're staging some mini-festival events in France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany to celebrate our 15th year as a record label. These have come together really nicely, more artists have been added in recent weeks, and a whole new city (Munich) as well!
Check this page for confirmed lineups and ticket links, and keep reading below for further details and testimonials.
We truly feel the present is a great moment to take stock of what we've done over the past decade and a half. Bands with whom we have some of our longest-standing relationships continue to make music among the most vital and inspiring to grace our ears, while in the past few years we've begun new relationships with artists producing equally jaw-dropping work, whose vision and integrity remind us why we started doing this in the first place.
We've felt an outpouring of warm support from our many friends and allies in Europe and around the world in organizing these events, while back home we've had the privilege of participating in the inspiring and unprecedented (in Canada) popular movement protesting tuition increases and the fraud of neo-liberal "austerity" economics that took over the streets of Montreal this spring. These days we truly feel more connected than ever to the local and global communities we consider ourselves part of, accountable to, and inspired by.
We're deeply grateful to everyone who's found occasional or sustained meaning and common cause with Constellation thus far, and genuinely look forward to spending time and celebrating with everyone that can make it out to these events in Europe.
And it goes without saying, we are utterly humbled and honoured by the support we've received from all of our presenting partners in these five European cities, most of whom we've had a long-standing relationship with in various respects. We set out to collaborate with the people who historically have meant a lot to us and our artists, and could not have hoped for more. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts.
• • • • •
While the mighty Siskiyou has sadly had to pull out of any further appearances this year (read a message from the band here), our European mini-fest anniversary shows continue to be anchored by Do Make Say Think and Silver Mt Zion, along with Sandro Perri (backed by a full band), Eric Chenaux, Elfin Saddle and Hangedup. These six artists will be present at all four of our previously announced events in Bern, Paris, Vienna and Leipzig.
We have also now confirmed the participation of Carla Bozulich and Matana Roberts at all four of these events as well - whether as part of the "main stage" line-ups or in interesting site-specific or off-site performances. We're still ironing out a few of those ideas and logistics, but rest assured no performances will be running concurrently.
Additionally, we'll have Hrsta at most engagements, and have managed to yank Colin Stetson out of his crisscrossing solo tour schedule to appear on the final night of the Bern fest.
The Bern weekend will be truly epic, with a minimum of eleven CST bands appearing over four days, and the Dis-patch Art Collective from Belgrade, Serbia installing their wonderful exhibit "Ce côté en haut: The Fragile World of Constellation" - an exhaustive retrospective of the label's album and poster artwork. Looks like there will also be a label-related photo exhibit in Bern, as well as a couple of day shows, art talks and other off-site things going on too.
Also: Munich! The excellent Feierwerk venue in Munich has come on board to host two nights featuring 3-band bills each evening, with DMST, Perri and Chenaux playing on Nov 19 and SMZ, Hrsta and Matana Roberts playing on Nov 21.
Again, click HERE for a re-cap of the main stage line-ups in each city along with ticket links, and/or watch the video clip at the end of this post for a listing of those main stage line-ups at each event.
Other cool things we can tell you about:
It's already pretty darn exciting that Do Make Say Think will be performing their classic album Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead in its entirety for their live set, but our presenting partner the Viennale will additionally be programming a series of experimental films to be projected during the band's set in Vienna. Since the Viennale is one of Europe's most respected and iconoclastic film festivals, this is sure to be a very special visual accompaniment to a very special musical performance.
Mike Moya was a founding member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor back in the early 1990s but pulled back from the band by the end of that decade to concentrate on Montreal-based projects as well as his excellent psych-folk group Hrsta throughout the 2000s. Moya then re-joined GY!BE when the group came off hiatus in 2010 and has been back in the third guitar chair with them ever since. Hrsta will perform at all the CST European events except Paris, and will be joined by new Godspeed drummer Tim Herzog, GY!BE/SMZ violinist Sophie Trudeau and Musique Fragile artist Nick Kuepfer for these sets.
Carla Bozulich will be premiering new material in a non-Evangelista guise; admittedly the distinction between these two identities has always been somewhat fluid, but we are super excited about the new music Carla has been working on and this will be a first opportunity to hear some of this stuff live.
Jerusalem In My Heart will perform in Leipzig. Date and location specifics have yet to be finally determined, but rest assured this will be very special and very cool. JIMH is the mutli-media project founded by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, a musician and sound engineer who is a close collaborator of Constellation on many fronts. He has engineered and/or mixed numerous albums in the CST catalogue, has made films and videos for several CST artists, has performed as part of Land Of Kush, and will be helping to stage-manage the Europe events. JIMH now includes experimental filmmaker Malena Szlam, who will join Radwan for the performance in Leipzig, involving multiple 16mm film projections and his totally unique and intense blend of synthetic and organic Arabic-influenced sound.
The Dis-patch album art exhibit will transition from Bern to Vienna and be installed in an anteroom of the Porgy & Bess venue in Vienna from opening night of the first CST show on Nov 21 through to the end of the 4-day Blue Bird festival on Nov 24.
Dis-patch will also be bringing limited edition screenprinted posters and hand-stitched cotton LP bags which are going to be quite lovely. We'll have 100 posters (4-colour on archival A2 size paper) and 50 bags available at each event in Bern, Paris, Vienna and Leipzig (apologies, but these will not be available in Munich). We promise these are going to be really nice items, reasonably priced and, y'know, all commemorative and stuff.
Anyway, we think these are going to be good times for all.
Now watch a video:
Not that we're counting, but it happens that this spring Constellation turns 15.
OK, yes of course we're counting. And this year we're even going to do some celebrating, in partnership with various comrades and allies. We'll have more details in the coming weeks about some happenings slated throughout this birthday year.
But for now...
We're absolutely thrilled to kick things off in collaboration with the world-renowned Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, who will host Esmerine, Matana Roberts (performing COIN COIN with her Montreal ensemble) and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra as part of their ambitious and excellently curated lineup this year.
FIMAV is in its 3rd decade as one of the world's premiere and longest-running festivals of electro-acoustic, improvised, avant jazz, artrock and other new musics, set in the town of Victoriaville, QC about 2.5 hours drive from Montréal. Constellation has had many artists play the festival over the years, and we're thrilled to have three groups playing on the closing day of the event.
Performing Sunday, May 20th:
3pm Matana Roberts COIN COIN (Montréal Ensemble)
8pm Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra
See FIMAV's programming for full details on these and many other amazing shows.
Tickets can be purchased here.
Note that purchasing tickets for three different shows gets you 15% off.
So just a little over 60.00 CAD would get you all three CST shows – a great opportunity to see and hear this (and any other) music in a truly special and focused environment.
Having just wrapped up a week of touring the second chapter of her COIN COIN project across Europe, Matana Roberts has just announced another dozen live dates over on that side of the Atlantic. For these appearances she'll be playing solo saxophone - for a taste check out a recent live recording streaming below.
We released the first chapter from COIN COIN, Gens de couleur libres, last year, to critical acclaim. Click here to check it out (includes a stream the entire album), and see below for dates.
|30.04.12||Madrid, SP||La Faena II|
|02.05.12||Düdingen, CH||Bad Bonn|
|03.05.12||Geneva, CH||Le Kab|
|04.05.12||Kosice, SK||Tabacka Kulturfabrik|
|07.05.12||Hamburg, DE||Fools Garden|
w/ Carla Bozulich
Following the conclusion of her residency in Santa Monica (including a performance on February 17), Matana Roberts will head to Europe for a handful of shows, including All Tomorrow's Parties curated by Jeff Mangum in Minehead, UK. On this tour she will be presenting Chapter 2 of her epic COIN COIN project, entitled Mississippi Moonchile, which follows last year's critically-lauded Gens de couleur libres.
See below for dates, and to watch a short film featuring Matana produced by Radwan Moumneh (also released last year).
|17.02.12||Santa Monica, USA||Broad Stage|
|09-12.03.12||Minehead, UK||All Tomorrow's Parties|
|19.03.12||Paris, FR||Banlieues Bleues|
|22.03.12||Zurich, CH||Rote Fabrik|
|24.03.12||Brest, FR||Espace Vauban|
Starting this December, Matana Roberts will take up a residency in Santa Monica, California, as the Make Jazz Fellow at the 18th Street Arts Centre. This will be their first jazz residency, funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation, and it will continue until February of next year. During the residency she'll be working on Coin Coin scores, as well as giving some local college and highschool workshops, and performing a special concert at the residency's conclusion.
Matana has also been nominated for a 2012 fellowship with United States Artists. Winners will be announced in January.
Matana released COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres, the first installment of her breathtaking 12-part series, last May. Get more info, including an audio stream of the entire album, on our release page.
Back in May we released Matana Roberts' breathtaking COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres, the first recording of her 12-part work in progress. The album received wide critical acclaim - nice words from The Wire, Chicago Reader, Tiny Mix Tapes, All About Jazz, SPEX, and Exclaim as well as 7 weeks at the #1 slot on the Jazz/Blues charts on CHARTattack. As praise continues to roll in, here's a quick round-up of some recent coverage that deserves your attention:
Feature on All Things Considered by Peter Margasak, 07/27/11
Q&A on Village Voice by Christopher Weingarten, 07/19/11
Interview at The Liminal, by Matt Poacher, 07/14/11
Album review at BBC Music by Martin Longley, 07/12/11
Of course the album is still available on CD and 2x10" vinyl - you can stream the entire album from our release page, and you can order it direct from us here.
Arte Live Web is hosting video from a performance of Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres which took place in February at Musée du quai Branly in Paris. You can view it here.
The album, a recording of the above piece performed with a different group of musicians, was released two weeks ago to critical acclaim from The Wire, The Chicago Reader, Tiny Mix Tapes and Exclaim.
You can hear the whole album streaming here.
Matana has two lives dates booked in New York in June:
6/04 - New York - Musicircus @ Roulette
6/19 - New York - Solo @DMG
Matana Roberts' COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres is now available.
In case you did not get hit with the COIN COIN splash page on your way into the site...
THE FULL ALBUM IS STREAMING HERE.
This page also rounds up a bunch of other media related to the release (an MP3 album mix, a Super8 experimental shot in Montreal last summer, Matana's COIN COIN blog link, album packaging shots) as well as some solid places to buy the album from indie mail-order partners in USA, UK and Germany.
Of course you can also order the album directly from us.
Further info on our official release page for this title.
The Wire's album review calls Roberts "a major talent – a unique saxophone voice who's also a thoughtful composer capable of choosing empathetic and supportive collaborators. Expect to hear her name more and more in the coming years." They also kicked off their Adventures In Modern Music (14.04.11) podcast with a cut from the record.
Read this excellent piece on Matana and the COIN COIN project by Peter Margasak in the Chicago Reader.
COIN COIN Chapter One is one of "This Week's Best Albums" at Alarm Press.
The Skinny and Exclaim have these reviews.
Matana Roberts' intense and incredible COIN COIN project receives its first official recorded installment with the release of COIN COIN CHAPTER ONE: Gens de couleur libres on May 10th.
Check out Matana's COIN COIN Blog for excellent and extensive background on the project and on Roberts' cultural compass in general.
Le Poisson Rouge (NYC) is hosting an album launch (listening party) and Q&A with Roberts at 7pm tonight, May 2nd, along with a screening of the Super8 short film made by Radwan Moumneh.
We are also premiering the film today.
Some early reviews of COIN COIN CHAPTER ONE include:
"Roberts is a major talent - a unique and easily identifiable saxophone voice who's also a thoughtful composer capable of choosing empathetic and supportive collaborators. Expect to hear her name more and more in the coming years." - The Wire
"Coin Coin belongs to the most important Jazz records of the past 10 years! If Matana Roberts keeps going like this she definitely will become thee spokeswoman for a new, politically conscious and refractory Jazz scene." - Jazzthetik
"An avant-jazz concept album performed live, Coin Coin is an uncompromising listen...inventive, sapient and engrossing, it’s not an easy listen, but it is an exceptional one." - The Skinny
Out May 10, 2011:
COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres
CST079 CD / 2x10"/ DL
Friend and allies,
We're thrilled to officially announce the release of the first chapter of Matana Roberts' COIN COIN project, Gens de couleur libres this May. The record is an engrossing, enthralling hour of music and narrative performance, drawing on an incredibly rich bank of thematic material and presented by some of the finest players from Montreal's jazz, improv and indie rock communities.
We really mean it when we say it's an honour to be associated with work of such depth and integrity.
Info on the release, including an MP3 of album excerpts, available here, and you can pre-order the album here.
No shows scheduled.
- Excerpts from Gens de couleur libres
COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres
Recent interview features:
Tiny Mix Tapes
Coin Coin Chapter Three reviews:
Tiny Mix Tapes
New York Times
All Music Guide
Consequence of Sound
Cover feature at The Wire (Oct. 2013 issue)
COIN COIN Chapter Two reviews:
New York Times
All About Jazz
A Closer Listen
All Music Guide
Video profile and extensive interview at New Music Box
27/7: Matana featured on All Things Considered
"A DIY Guide To The History Of Women In Jazz" feature at WNYC
COIN COIN Chapter One reviews:
Tiny Mix Tapes
The Needle Drop