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Matthew Shipp: Shipp Shifts

Chris Rich By

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"Under these conditions, two supplementary models work for me: the scientist and the mystic dreamer. I'm inclined to be fascinated with technology and the possibility of using these new tools, exploring the possibilities and bringing them into my environments on my canvas with traditional paper and paint brushes. One is the domain of hypothesis and repetition, of the chance operation; what happens if? Then the other, of strenuousness and self-abnegation, of a sensibility that deploys extreme states of feeling and reacting.

"I guess, in the long run, you can say I am a painter who takes her visual expressions from sound and, in this case, from Matthew Shipp's music."

Steve Dalachinsky is one of a few Americans who is eagerly paid by French people to speak English. He graciously contributed a few written observations about his collaboration with Matthew Shipp beginning with a sense of his aesthetic aims.

"This is a(n) (inter)changeable act crystal can crack heighten suspend emit/ heal/torture and illumine," says Dalachinsky. "All my processes, as I discovered recently, seem to lead to and add up to one process (the act of) doing.

"Recently I wrote/typed up five poems. As I prepared to do this I was listening to a samba program on the radio strictly by chance. I had wished they played some Martinho da Vila, which they eventually did. As I listened I began spontaneously typing a piece that eventually came to an end. Then I started working on fragments I had recently written that were lying around.

"Though they were five seemingly different pieces with different elements, by the time I got to the fifth one, (all combining what had been scribbled along with some instant editing), I discovered, in this case anyway, they had become consciously or unconsciously interconnected and by the end had, as a result, come full circle so to speak.

"It's like what Matthew does live with his long sets weaving in and out of standards, originals and improvisation to make one long organically, (or so it would appear), intertwined set

"Once, when I was very young, I saw Thelonious Monk interviewed on a TV show. The interviewer asked him, as Monk sat at the piano (I don't recall if he had finished playing or was about to play), something to the effect of.. 'Thelonious, folks say you play differently than other people. What is it exactly that you do (differently)?' 'I don't know, I just do it.' was how I remember Monk replying. Head down. Then I think he played. Well for years I thought I got it. He just does it. Then I thought, at some point as I grew older—but not wiser or up (as in mature)—'Well, he must know but he'd either rather not explain or can't really articulate it.' Anyway, I realized that after I had written these five pieces that, although the processes seemed to differ, they equaled, as I said earlier, one process the act of doing.

"It's like the deep. Swimming in the deep. No matter how shallow the pool may appear. Then there are those shimmering expanding woven quirky reflections of light along the bottom. And I finally realize it's about slowing time down and speeding time up, like in a movie/film how fast the swimmer chooses to move his arms with what intensity & how the breath holds up. Even crazy people read & write some kind of script, language and tempo in order to keep going/moving/sustaining/breathing."

Dalachinsky here offers a sense of how their collaborations flow: "Smooth, long and continuous like his live sets, except the duo recording—which was shorter pieces and on which he experimented more—and the cuts were more delineated and in some cases very short.

"But in all cases there was little or no discussion, all improv on his part and some on mine, though all work was written. No rehearsals. One or two on-the-spot questions from him and we begin and we end as I do and he does in most gigs of this nature (I hate recording and prefer live, the mess-ups are easier to handle)."

Dalachinsky concludes with a summation of how his poetic language interacts with Shipp's sonic language: "I think this is different each time. Sometimes we listen to each other. Sometimes we hear each other. Sometimes we pay no attention to the other and just see what happens. We dialogue or go our separate ways. Sometimes it' smooth, sometimes awkward but for the most part though, uncomfortably satisfying. It usually works out."

Photo Credits

All Photos: Courtesy of Matthew Shipp


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