Matthew Shipp: piano
Recorded on July 21st and 22nd 2007 by Hugo Dwyer at MPI Studio (New York, Ny, Etats Unis). Mixing & mastering: Hugo Dwyer. Liner notes: Steve Dalachinsky. Photographs: Lorna Lentini. Producer: Michel Dorbon
Tracklist: 1. Enter In (3.05) 2. Geometry (4.11) 3. Sparks (2.40) 4. Spike (3.31) 5. Linear Shocks (5.42) 6. Two Things Together (4.46) 7. Whole Zone (1.58) 8. Simple Fact (3.18) 9. Riddle (3.35) 10. Cloud Chamber 6 (6.10) 11. Harmony of Apollo (4.56) 12. Exit Out (3.26)
All compositions by Matthew Shipp
this music, one piano /one pianist, is a system both simple & severe. it contains a full dimension of style, range, technique & sound sources. it does equally well, feels equally (un)comfortable at home (alien) here in(ner) out(er) (s)pace using broad designs, vagaries, different & difficult patterns & obvious mannerisms. it is flutt’ring soundsheets in an unpredictable breeze of varying weights. a wealth of oppositional yet embracing sequences (like nature itself). clumsy elegance lifted into, soaking & unburdening the EAR. as precious stone is heavy yet beautiful to behold & light to the touch. plundering culturally formulated ideals, manners & mannerisms. a full course meal consumed. — Steve Dalachinsky, excerpt from the liner notes
Matthew Shipp | Photo by by Lorna Lentini
Alone with his instrument
Shipp carries on a conversation with silence on Un Piano; silence is an active participant in many of the pieces. On “Enter In” he lets both single notes and chords decay slowly and disappear before putting another in its place. On “Spike” sudden sharp notes prick glittering holes in silence. “Cloud Chamber 6” is held together by the slenderest of threads, lines dissolve in mid air, round chords chime and melt away, riffs that should propel the music forward expire. Shipp’s reluctance to resolve these gestures, or gather them into a false symmetry creates an aura of mystery and sense of an infinite music without beginning or end. A few of the tracks fill the silence more completely. Long garlands of notes periodically jabbed at by fists of chords create a darting and weaving “Linear Shocks.” The melodic thread of “Harmony of Apollo” stands out in glittery relief against a dark and busy background. “Geometry” works hard at avoiding the obvious or conventional. Shipp’s abrupt mood swings send it swerving in different directions; he uses the sustain pedal to reshape notes; he opens sudden gaps in the middle of his lines, letting silence fill the air before resuming. It’s as if he’s stripping everything else away and starting fresh, waiting to hear what his piano has to tell him. Shipp has always had a huge chunk of the piano literature at his fingertips and he’s shaped it to his own ends with exceptional skill in the past. But here, you’d be hard pressed to point to “influences” or antecedents; on this album, Shipp is chasing a pure piano sound.
Matthew Shipp | Photo by by Lorna Lentini
Multiplication Table, recorded by Shipp’s working trio with bassist William Parker and drummer Susie Ibarra in 1997, finds Shipp often dipping into a deep well of musical traditions and refashioning them in his own image. It’s not as if he is building a pastiche or working out influences before finding his voice. It’s more like he finds phrases or passages reminiscent of Debussy or Andrew Hill or Chopin or Cecil Taylor as he searches, molds them into something of his own and continues digging. The music sounds beyond individual style, or category, as if it was plucked from an infinity of sound that is free for the picking. Parker is an intensely focused presence, zeroed in on his own lines, wrestling with sounds and tossing out energy. Ibarra disperses the beat into a generalized web of sound and rhythm. She lets the different sounds of the trap kit suggest melodies, hints at fixed beats momentarily, circles round and round a center that only she sees. All the activity masks how deliberately Shipp works, how closely and without effort the music grows together into a single entity. “Autumn Leaves” gets blown from the trees in a gale of thundering chords and rapidly shifting musical references, but the melody resurfaces frequently throughout the storm, providing an anchor for the improvisations. “C Jam Blues” and “Take the ‘A’ Train” also provide touchstones for group expositions that venture far from their starting points. The freedom with which this band worked is best heard on the exhilarating “The New Fact,” on which Shipp and Parker play with marvelous confidence, each secure in the knowledge that whatever he plays will work with the other. There’s a similar boldness to the sound pieces, “ZT 1–3” scattered through the album, with bowed bass rasps, piano-string pings, washes of cymbals and other timbres and textures paired up with or played off against each other to dazzling effect.
These are two very different albums, and it would be wrong to think of the earlier one as in any way immature. Shipp is a pilgrim and these two albums are signposts along the road. — Ed Hazell
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)