"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)
"Coin Coin is a revelatory exploration of Blackness outside the notorious twin filters of race and class that define America… Like its predecessors, Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis isn't "easy" to listen to, nor should it be, given the nature of what it explores and explicates. That said, it is a necessary, engaged art that bears repeated listening for its revelation to unfold and hopefully open a gateway to understanding. Arguably, it is the strongest and most compelling of the Coin Coin releases thus far." – AllMusic
"Where Matana Roberts’ previous manifestations of her “panoramic sounds quilting” projects were a fascinating display of impressionism, her fourth installment in the Coin Coin series has a narrative clarity that is nothing short of stunning. The composer’s talent for nurturing the interplay between history and myth has resulted in one of the albums of the year." – Bandcamp
"A deeply personal exploration of identity and lineage… [Roberts] methodically weaves childhood memories with reimagined jazz standards, African-American spirituals, avant-garde composition and instrumentation that evokes the American South." – Downbeat
"This album – this series of albums – is a staggering work of art, a must-hear." – Stereogum
"An absolutely fascinating album, combining spoken word, songs, poetry, structured jazz, a country fiddle and freeform jazz... This is a complex and many-layered construction. Through cathartic story-telling, uplifting ‘found’ songs and inspired jazz, Roberts lifts, illuminates and shines ‘this little light of mine’ onto the collective soul. Remarkable." – Vanguard Online
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 thematises 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.”
Deluxe 180gram LP pressed at Optimal (Germany) comes in a jacket printed on uncoated 20pt/400gsm paperboard with the inside of the jacket finished in black ink and the vinyl housed in an audiophile polylined black paper inner dust sleeve. The LP edition includes a pair of full colour 12”x24” pull-out art prints featuring collages of Matana’s graphic scores on one side, with credits/liner notes and additional artwork on the other, printed on uncoated140M archival paper. Includes digital download card. Artwork by Matana Roberts.
CD comes in a custom mini-gatefold paperboard jacket printed on uncoated paperboard with an an inner dust sleeve for the disc. Artwork by Matana Roberts.
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
Ian Ilavsky: voice
Recorded at Break Glass Studios in Montréal by Jace Lasek, assisted by Dave Smith
Mixed at Thee Mighty Hotel2Tango in Montréal by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh
Mastered at Greymarket in Montréal by Harris Newman