Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter 3: River Run Thee
- Stewart Smith
- 17 February 2015
A collage of jazz, blues, noise and spoken word makes up this remarkable album
For the third chapter in her epic work exploring the legacy of slavery, musician and activist Matana Roberts has created an extraordinary collage, bringing together jazz, blues, noise and spoken word in an approach she calls 'panoramic sound quilting'. Previous chapters were ensemble works, but River Run Thee is a solo effort, with Roberts performing live overdubs of vocals, saxophone, electronics and samples across the base tracks.
Over ghostly harmonies and floating trails of saxophone, she layers multiple voices, reconstructing narratives of African-American history. Roberts' texts include her grandfather's poems and the diary of an English captain who sailed freed slaves back to Africa, around which she weaves fragments of folk song, fiery horn solos, and fissures of digital noise. Environmental recordings of New York and the American South – street musicians, bird song, church bells – connect memory to sensed experience. A remarkable album, both haunting and bold.
Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee is out now, on Constellation