Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
218

Matthew Shipp: Harmony & Abyss

By

Sign in to view read count Views
Matthew Shipp: Harmony & Abyss 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)

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings


  • Thesis
    Thesis
    Matthew Shipp
    Duos With Mat Maneri & Joe...
  • 4D
    4D
    Matthew Shipp
    4D
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Live in Seattle
Live in Seattle
Origin Records
2016
buy
Cactus
Cactus
Northern-Spy Records
2016
buy
Our Lady Of The Flowers
Our Lady Of The...
Rogueart Records
2015
buy
I've Been To Many Places
I've Been To Many...
Thirsty Ear Recordings
2015
buy
The Conduct of Jazz
The Conduct of Jazz
Thirsty Ear Recordings
2015
buy
To Duke
To Duke
Rogue Art
2015
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Eric Dolphy Eric Dolphy
reeds
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Dave Douglas Dave Douglas
trumpet
Cecil Taylor Cecil Taylor
piano
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Vijay Iyer Vijay Iyer
piano
Andrew Hill Andrew Hill
piano
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot
guitar

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.