Published Jan 30, 2015This release is the third in Matana Roberts' Coin Coin series, which explores her African American history through words and music and extensive travel and research into her family journey. Unlike the first two chapters, this third entry forms a world that is constructed more from sound than notes and solo studio work rather than collaborative performance. River Run Thee is extraordinarily dense and layered, with solo saxophone interventions, multi-track synth and spoken/sung word from both Roberts herself and sampled sources, with assistance in the studio by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Jerusalem in My Heart).
Unfortunately, the consistency of the soundscape, which remains all of a piece, tends to obscure the words, which seem to reveal little, then disappear. There is a macro sense of the theme(s), but the music barely executes the momentum of trance and the words rarely offer up a clear narrative. Perhaps that's the point: Is it a journey not meant to be understood in the literal sense, but felt emotionally or even psychically?
Matana Roberts has engaged in a highly personal statement both in form and content. It is also a work that leaves the previously explored realm of jazz and probes the territory of electronic electroacoustic music. Headphones are recommended, and Roberts' blog. ()