Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

218

Matthew Shipp: Harmony & Abyss

By

Sign in to view read count
Matthew Shipp is a musician who can't be easily pigeon-holed. In fact, the only pigeon hole in which he could be placed is as one of the musicians who hold to the greenest and youngest branches of the jazz tree looking for fresh air. In addition to his work with David S. Ware, he has presented contemporary music on albums like Prism (Brinkman Records, 1993) and By The Law Of Music (Hat Hut Records, 1997), as well as hip-hop on his fantastic album with Antipop Consortium (Thirsty Ear, 2003) or with El-P in High Water (Thirsty Ear, 2004). For Harmony & Abyss, his entry into electronic music follows in the steps of Equilibrium (Thirsty Ear, 2003).

The starting reference of this album is quite simple: Harmony & Abyss begins where Equilibrium leaves off. But in this case, the equilibrium seems to be broken, and the album is a continuous oscillation between melodic themes of terrible beauty and themes that drown you in their sounds. Matthew Shipp plays with his audience along the way: "Galaxy 105" offers a beautiful jazz landscape, but immediately afterwards "String Theory" provokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of a submarine. "Blood 2 The Brain" transports you directly to the dance floor, but the euphoria lasts only six short minutes until "Invisible Light" kicks in, introducing you into a cavernous darkness (only for two minutes, fortunately). And then "Amino Acid" appears, transmitting with its acoustic rhythms the sensation of a character from the Japanese anime film Akira. "Abyss" closes the recording, leaving you sleeping in the quiet ambience of the great cities. The very title of Harmony & Abyss is itself a definition, a metaphor of the album.

It's very difficult to open your ears to all the songs on this CD, since they are intentionally heterogeneous. But there is no doubt about the quality music-making of Matthew Shipp, William Parker and FLAM here. In the final balance, the album simply has too many things to say. I am not used to listening to contemporary music, but it's very different from hip-hop or electronic music. The fact that musicians with the experience and knowledge of Matthew Shipp and William Parker decided to confine themselves in the chemistry laboratory to produce this kind of mixture is, at least, an interesting experiment. Sometimes it results in an insipid drink, but electronic songs like "Ion" or "Blood 2 The Brain" present a mental exercise for jazz ears; and jazz themes like "Galaxy 105" and "Invisible Light" do the same for electronic ones. The mental exercise involved in listening to Harmony & Abyss will in the end determine who will enjoy this recording.

Visit Matthew Shipp on the web.

Track Listing: Ion; New ID; 3 in 1; Virgin Complex; Galaxy 501; String Theory; Blood 2 the Brain; Invisible Light; Amino Acid; Abyss

Personnel: Matthew Shipp (piano, synthesizer), William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums), FLAM (slicing, dicing, synthesizers and programming)

Title: Harmony & Abyss | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 17, 2017
Read "Anti-Hero" CD/LP/Track Review Anti-Hero
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Coalesce" CD/LP/Track Review Coalesce
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 27, 2017
Read "Anybody's Spring" CD/LP/Track Review Anybody's Spring
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Songs of Jack Tempchin" CD/LP/Track Review Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Songs of Jack Tempchin
by Doug Collette
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "The Brightest Minute" CD/LP/Track Review The Brightest Minute
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 25, 2017