At first look this might seem like a weird move for the Constellation label as Matana Roberts’ debut for the imprint is pretty much straight-up free jazz. But she’s got some serious history with the Montreal collective, even throwing down horns with Godspeed on the fabled ‘Yanqui UXO’. Thinking about it too, there’s always been a nod towards the free jazz scene (not least on Colin Stetson’s recent genre-bending LP) but where others were a nod, ‘COIN COIN Chapter One : Gens de Couleur Libres’ is a full on two thumbs up to the fractured style. Roberts is an alto saxophone virtuoso, but here shows real range blending the horn sound with her screaming vocal chords and whatever else comes to hand. Apparently the COIN COIN project is quite specific, combining various different scoring techniques with a studied narrative related to the universal experience of Africans in America. Quite heady stuff then, and thankfully the music does more than enough to justify the back-story. Through Roberts’ pained squeals and expert blues-flecked horn patterns you sense struggle, pain, resentment and goodness knows what else that was vibrating through her body at the time. It’s not an easy listen, but neither should it be – this is something to be soaked up, understood and talked about.
2x10" and CD all come in white generic inner sleeves. Comes with fold out poster and two inserts. All together in a single 10" sleeve. Limited edition first pressing.
Recorded at Hotel2Tango, Montreal, July 2010, in front of a live audience.