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Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden


Celebrated composer, performer, saxophonist, soloist, band leader, educator, activist, and mixedmedia artist Matana Roberts returns with a new installment of their acclaimed Coin Coin series. For over a decade, Coin Coin has been the central artistic project for Roberts, a remarkable exploration of American ancestry and the nature of memory through “sound quilting”: modern composition that draws on a wide range of musical sources and traditions, along with researchdriven historical and genealogical narratives that yield prose and poetry both spoken and sung, field recordings, and graphic scores. The Quietus declares “when the 12-album cycle is complete, it will be regarded as a singular masterpiece of 21st century sonic and narrative art” and Pitchfork calls it “one of the most provocative ongoing bodies of work by any American musician.”

Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the garden... is the first new recorded audio chapter since 2019 and centers upon reproductive rights, summoning the story of a family ancestor who died in early adulthood, from a cause kept obfuscated and hushed, shrouded in disinformation and shame. Roberts reimagines diaristic and oral narratives, delivered in strident streams of spoken word that punctuate the hour-long work, with recurring musical themes frequently accompanied by the declarative refrain "my name is your name / our name is their name / we are named / we remember / they forget.” As Roberts writes in the accompanying liner notes essay:

I find it absolutely disgusting that the same trauma my grand ancestor, whose story we are telling in this chapter, is closely mirroring the experiences of some poor soul today as I write this... Our aforementioned grand, who perished at a young age, leaving her growing children motherless, did not have to die. The negative consequences of her death have reverberated down through generations in my family line, in the same way that a similar resounding might happen for someone else’s ancestral line generations from today. While often jazz-adjacent, and with Matana's inimitable saxophone and indomitable voice at the core, Roberts situates Coin Coin outside the Jazz genre and within heterodox pathways of postmodern composition, electroacoustic music, sound collage, experimental voice, and sound art.

In the garden… undeniably continues to express and expand upon the project’s magnificent iconoclasm, nonetheless being the most jazz-inflected chapter since Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (2013). Recorded in Brooklyn with a stellar acoustic ensemble that includes Stuart Bogie, Gitanjali Jain, Darius Jones, Matt Lavelle, Mike Pride, Ryan Sawyer, Corey Smythe, and Mazz Swift, abetted by some sparkling pieces featuring modular synthesis courtesy of album producer Kyp Malone (Bent Arcana, TV On The Radio), In the garden… traverses a vivid stylistic array of thematic overtures, excursions and set pieces, ranging from spacious textural invocations to gorgeously tempered horn-led compositions to driving free jazz and exhilarating throughcomposed bursts of cacophony. With storytelling spoken-word lead vocals by Roberts channeled recurringly throughout, alongside various other deployments of layered and group voices, the album is alternately a meditation and fever dream of narrative potency.

This is some of the most intense and intensive music Roberts has composed and captured to date, richly conceived and deeply felt, restless yet focused, unflinchingly substantive and unique. Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the garden... channels epigenetic trauma and tragedy with teeming complexity and fierce beauty — a eulogy, testimony, and celebration, melding music and language in a stunning polychromatic flow of vernaculars and poetics. A powerful work of subjective commemoration and historical-cultural communion that speaks indelibly to the present moment.


1 we said

2 different rings

3 unbeknownst

4 predestined confessions

5 how prophetic

6 a caged dance

7 i have long been fascinated

8 enthralled not by her curious blend

8 no way chastened

9 but i never heard a sound so long

10 the promise

11 shake my bones

12 a(way) is not an option

13 for they do not know

14 others each

15 ...ain't i...your mystery is our history

Release Info

Release Date: 29th September 2023
Format: 10" or CD
Label: Constellation

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