Review

Matana Roberts

Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden

Constellation • 2023

In 2011, Sebastian Hinz ascribed »a lucky pull« to the Modern Creative Matana Roberts. The first entry in her »Coin Coin«-series was »peerless« due to its »stirring, rousing, but simultaneously contemplative force«. Twelve years later a minor correction is in order: luck had no role to play in Roberts’ performance. The »Coin Coin« project brought forth some of the past decade’s best albums. Now, the fifth chapter has been unleashed. Roberts continues her feminist array into Black history filled with indignation. Via the fictional autobiography of her grandmother, she tells of marriage under patriarchy, emotional abuse, and fatal abortions. Roberts underpins this with a genre-transcending concoction made from avant-gardist Free Jazz, Folk, Blues, Musique concrète and Drone. Increasingly, the influence of Post-Rock titans Godspeed You! Black Emperor, whom Roberts was a part of in the early Noughties, is felt. Artful pacing gives the album its emotional heft (even if Chapter 5 falls a bit short of the impact of Ch. 3 or 4). Quiet passages become disquieting freak-outs, dissonances discharge into a melodious canon. 2023 already is a great year for fans of political-literary Jazz, thanks to, say, Asher Gamedze, Rob Mazurek, and Irreversible Entanglements. What makes Roberts stand out anyway, is her unsanitized prose. »Coin Coin Chapter 5« is an expertly administered gut-punch.