Best of 2019 #03: Matana Roberts – “Coin Coin Chapter 4: Memphis”


The meeting point of history and mythology is as much collision as it is convergence, and there’s no better musical representation of this dichotomy than the “panoramic sound quilting” of Matana Roberts. The compositions of Coin Coin are as likely to be cryptic as they are to be clearly focused. On Memphis, it trends toward the latter, and that clarity is what makes it the most stunning offering in the series to date. The past is present in Roberts’ music, and its creative daring reflects the strength of the modern scene, even as it moves on into the future.

That’s how I summarized the latest chapter in the Matana Roberts Coin Coin series for The Bandcamp Daily.  My write-ups, and thoughts, about this music has always been brief.  It’s a necessary succinctness.  The alto saxophonist’s compositions are dense with history, with dreams, with the weight of passing time.  Attempting to parse that down is counterproductive.  My reactions to this music are ineffable, and not a little bit impenetrable.  By its nature, art becomes personal, and as we experience it, we incorporate it into our own lives, and that’s when the art no longer belongs to the artist, but becomes our own with our own context.  The chapters of Coin Coin just don’t lend to that transformational relationship.  Roberts story is hers, and it boils down to it is what it isIt is also one of the most stunning works of 2019.

Your album personnel:  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), and guests:  Steve Swell (trombone, voice), Ryan White (vibraphone), Thierry Amar, Nadia Moss, Jessica Moss (voice).

Released on Constellation Records.

Music from Earth (via New York City, Chicago, Montreal, and Memphis).

I wrote about the album for The Bandcamp Daily.

Check out Roberts’ project-specific Tumblr page for more on Coin Coin and etc.

Listen | Read more | Available at:  BandcampAmazon