♫♪  Matana Roberts - “Her Mighty Waters Run” / “Wild Fire Bare” / “Fit To Be Tied” [Medley]

Photo: M. Tarantelli

Matana Roberts calls her approach “panoramic sound quilting.” That analogy of composing as quilting — where old pieces are sewn together to create a new patchwork — is heavy when you think about it. And I mean that literally, not like Marty McFly jive talking Doc Brown in Hill Valley circa 1955. As multi-layered coverings, quilts are traditionally heavy. My grandmother sewed me one from my relatives’ old denim jeans. So heavy, it’s clothing as shelter.

Matana Roberts’s Coin Coin quilts explore some of those same motifs: familial love, basic necessity, traditions as layers of experience and story, the nexus of art and craft and form. For the project’s upcoming fourth installment, Roberts brought together a new band featuring Hannah Marcus on guitars, fiddle, and accordion; Ryan Sawyer on percussion; Nicolas Caloia on bass; and Sam Shalabi on guitar and oud. There are vast, challenging passages of improvised instrumental music, and there are deeply moving singing arrangements; in and around it all is Memphis, home of Roberts’s grandmother who graces the album’s cover with her “pure american black folk Memphis-raised defiance,” as the composer puts it.

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.

Says Tiny Mix Tapes: Matana Roberts has given this website two of its richest, most thought-provoking interview features (with another on the way), and it’s an honor to premiere this medley from Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis, out October 18 on Constellation Records.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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