Matana Roberts
COIN COIN Chapter Four: Memphis


4.2
excellent

Review

by Winesburgohio STAFF
December 12th, 2019 | 41 replies


Release Date: 01/01/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Trout Mask running from White Masks.

“I am a child of the wind, even Daddy said so / we used to race and I would always win” Matana Roberts exhales, of course, breathlessly, her backing band feverishly trying to keep up with her, a squall of alto sax, guitar, bass and fight-or-flight percussion encircling her incantation, playing atonally and discordantly not necessarily out of design but because it’s the only musical style the wheezing pace of the album will allow, not coincidentally certain discordances emulating the sound of an amateur erring while attempting to play a piece too fast, occasionally collapsing and tripping before resuming Robert’s cacophonous accompaniment. I am three tracks in to Roberts’ latest installment in her Coin Coin series, this one centred around Memphis, and I already feel as though I’ve committed my lungs to anaerobic exercise.

***

One of the things I have always admired about Roberts’ Coin Coin series, of which this one is the fourth, is that it avers to a position on racial politics while refusing to elide from individual strands and stitches of the tapestry, and is always willing to experiment with form and structure in ways i've never heard (is it Jazz? Improv? Who Cares when it's a sound her own) to achieve this. While cleaving to a meta-narrative built on post-colonial history and the lingering effects of slavery in America, she, along with the late, great Toni Morrison also has the intelligence and thoughtfulness to realise that not every story, or place, is going to coalesce.

So we have four discrete places and four discrete stories, which isn’t to say that collectivisation or unity isn’t valid, but which is to say the complexity of the issues she tackles means stories won’t be repeated: each installment tells a vastly different one, offering dignity to unique experiences and the individual while concomitantly refusing to conform to easy homogenization. Memphis, fittingly, is brimming with the ferocity and unremitting sense of peril I associate with it through both it’s Hip-Hop, Blues, early Rock ‘n’ Roll. The phrase the album’s protagonist employs, “I am a child of the wind, even Daddy said so,” begins as an assertion and wends its way into motif, repeated throughout the album, every place of shelter transient and looming with volcanic-strength threat. Even the final three tracks, which form a reprieve, seem fraught: “I’m going to let it shine” and “live life, out loud” may waltz along mellifluously, but her voice sounds as alert and ready as a radar screen.

Which is to say Roberts and her ensemble aren’t necessarily musicians but excavators, using howling saxophone and banging drum to dig beneath dirt, sediment and limestone to reveal rivers of blood flowing and criss-crossing underneath; the album from In the Fold onwards (and really, In the Fold and Raise Yourself Up might be two of her best “accessible” tracks, though for those unfamiliar with free jazz-cum-improv-cum-blues note the inverted commas) is the analysis and result of the vials of the substance taken from the source. The album demands that we keep the Black experience and it’s fraught, multi-faceted history in living memory, as vital and alive as the hearts pumping our blood as I type this.

It wouldn’t just be inappropriate to listen to Coin Coin Memphis casually, while playing a video game or doodling in the background, it would be impossible, so arresting and bracing is the experience. We are invited to become amateur phlebotomists ourselves, tracing a genealogy and a lineage borne of America’s shame whose consequences are extant, enduring and to a certain extent culturally simplified. For the squeamish, remember on whose blood the city was built. A baying yelp, usually barely audible and carried on the wind, recorded in high fidelity and screamed into one’s ear: an astonishing achievement and as the decade draws to a close an essential document keeping alive something that threatens to be lost: while her Coin Coin series are cult classics now, one can only hope they become cornerstones in a greater discourse outside of genre or even arbitrary scores, numbers on a page, about what America is and what it could become - but most importantly, what it was. Let it shine / let it shine.



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user ratings (36)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 12th 2019


49666 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

not sure if she got worse over the years or my taste got better but



this shit is hot fuckin garbage

Digging: ANKHLEJOHN - Lordy Is God

CookieFactory79
December 12th 2019


65 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i was not happy

review is a nice story um

chicagues
December 12th 2019


1 Comments


"my taste got better"

um... LOL

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 12th 2019


49666 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Just pretend I copy pasted all your 5s

Jasdevi087
December 12th 2019


5895 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nah it's good bro taste is just an illusion and there are multiple realities where everyone has a norma jean album 5'd

Relinquished
December 12th 2019


42930 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

LOL jas

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 12th 2019


49666 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Disconcerting thought

TheBarber
December 12th 2019


3862 Comments


Chapter 3 was 'aight. Might give this a go

TheBarber
December 12th 2019


3862 Comments


"I am a mixed media sound artist, saxophonist and composer. I do not live in Indonesia, but band camp won't let me just say "Earth". I also tried "Saturn", but that didn't work either : )."

K I admit I cringed

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 12th 2019


49666 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

So bohemian

brainmelter
December 12th 2019


6779 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

v nice

Digging: The Growlers - Gilded Pleasures

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
December 12th 2019


2816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

yes her bandcamp bio needs improvement and i could be just the person

Digging: Macintosh Plus - Sick and Panic

Demon of the Fall
December 13th 2019


14453 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

I nearly gave this +0.5 for the opening section before the obnoxious spoken word rubbish, then it just descends into utterly unlistenable garbage thereon in, so think it fully deserves this rating.



1.2/5 - has the indignity of not being QUITE shit enough to beat out Holly Herndon for worst AOTY.

Digging: Joliette - Principia

TheBarber
December 15th 2019


3862 Comments


Watcha thinking about Wines ?

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
December 15th 2019


2816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

recovering from the death of my beautiful wife, Anna Karina, and in my bereaved state all i'm thinking about various DVD's waiting at home for me. you might say i'm... Waiting for Godard

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 16th 2019


49666 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

1.2/5 - has the indignity of not being QUITE shit enough to beat out Holly Herndon for worst AOTY.





agree with the rating. album is the epitome of how all style no substance can trick you into thinking something irredeemably terrible has artistic merit. or that technical proficiency can substitute for good songwriting (*cough BTBAM cough*). a clever deceit that seems particularly affecting on 'beatniks', and makes me wonder if my appreciation of some of her past material was partially due to that kind of hipstery admiration for unconventionality. might have to revisit and see if those albums are, in fact, also unlistenable garbage.



but I'd take that shitty new Holly Herndon album over this any day. and there are plenty other albums that I'd nominate for worst album of the year over this as well. Twigs being a top contender.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 16th 2019


49666 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

albums like this make me reflect on the state of my music taste a half decade ago with a little mirth.

Demon of the Fall
December 16th 2019


14453 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Nice, a BTBAM dig is never misplaced nor misguided, however seemingly irrelevant it may appear.

tectactoe
December 16th 2019


2049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dropping in to also say that I'm upset at the passing of Anna Karina and will be revisiting an old favorite - UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME - in her honor tonight.

Digging: Hop Along - Painted Shut

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 16th 2019


49666 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

She was like 80 years old. Old people do a die.



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