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Matthew Shipp: Elastic Aspects

Chris Rich By

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Elasticity is expressed throughout this Matthew Shipp trio release in the deftness of transitions, the focused investigations of central elements in music and a selection structure that has its own striking cohesion. The piano gets its elaborate discovery expedition with corresponding investigations from bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey.

Recorded in July 2011, Elastic Aspects might be heard as a suite, beginning with a stretch toward free improvisation ("Alternative Aspects"), featuring Bisio's emphatic and overt bow work answered by Dickey's mysterious gong and cymbal allusions, and snapping back to a lush minor solo piano fundamental ("Aspects") that leaps, despite being but a 25-second spring, a kernel epitome.

"Psychic Counterparts" stretches the set towards a trio sound that could have been found in any decade since Eisenhower was president, if larded with vivid asymmetries that more often arise with today's versions. It could be a sonic diorama of piano trio quintessence.

"Frame Focus" is given to solo piano, and might be a study in elastic potentials, commencing with a relatively crisp exposition before turning to stretches, with melodic kernels expanding toward the panoramic."Flow Chart" is given to bass and drums, while "Mute Voice" is a demure application of the damping pedal, joined by subtly brushed drums and feather-light bass pluck .

"Explosive Aspects" shifts toward temporal intensity, with elements of surprise in its stretching towards the frantic, and a contrast of relaxation. "Raw Materials" resumes a focus on things contrapuntal, while "Rain Forest," a Bisio contribution given over to the bow for its entirety, sits well with prior solo bass wonders such as Duke Ellington's "A Single Petal of A Rose." Something of a cousin to the album opener, "Stage 10" attends to timbre with extended inner piano coaxing, a brush shuffling wafting from the drum kit.

"Dimension" belongs to a piano solo, where elasticity is expressed as melodic undulation—upwelling, darting eddies in a gyro-flow. "Elastic Aspects" takes all this to full trio mode, while "Elastic Eye"— the longest piece on a recording given to brevity— makes a proper capper to the set by applying all of this deft darting to the fullness of block chords and clusters of some considerable density.

Early deft darting prototypes can be found in the legendary pianist Art Tatum concert and in the inventions of pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr., but Shipp makes a substantial world of what was once merely a gripping detail.

Elastic Aspects is a well-considered condensation of Shipp's most recent works, and then some. In a time of sonic inflation—when a wheelbarrow of music is needed to buy a single pair of willing ears, and as pirates hover to steal it straight out of the gate—this release was born with some trepidation and its like may not be forthcoming any time soon.

Track Listing: Alternative Aspects; Aspects; Psychic Counterpart; Frame Focus; Flow Chart; Mute Voice; Explosive Aspects; Raw Materials; Rainforest; Stage 10; Dimension; Elastic Aspects; Elastic Eye.

Personnel: Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Michael Bisio: bass; Whit Dickey: drums.

Title: Elastic Aspects | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings


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