Matthew Shipp String Trio: Symbolic Reality

Karl Ackermann By

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Of the many formations in which Matthew Shipp works, his string trio is one of the most eclectic and appealing. Mat Maneri, William Parker and Shipp have covered the breadth of progressive improvised music from chamber to noise. Shipp has dabbled in electronica and hip-hop, but more often in the genre-less manner which makes him stand apart. Maneri has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Cecil Taylor, Paul Motian and Club d'Elf. Parker's resume includes recordings with artists as diverse as Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon and Federico Ughi. All members of the trio have a link to the recordings of saxophonists Ivo Perelman and the late David S. Ware.

Symbolic Reality is the third album from the Matthew Shipp String Trio, dating back to By The Law Of Music (hatOLOGY, 1997). They maintain the caginess of their debut and, with their musical maturity, they are even more worthy of attention. The six compositions are from Shipp but, given the intuition and impulsive nature of these musicians, the pre-determined structures are starting points. "Central Flame," with Parker playing bowed bass, is symphonious as is the more abstract title track. "Inner Speech" features Shipp's brilliantly distinctive solo work; Maneri and Parker split off for the cerebral "The Other Universe"; their ability to transmit thoughts is remarkable.

"Law of Sequence," the longest track at over eleven minutes, closes the collection with pleasing balance. The piece rises and retreats often on the power of Shipp's piano—resounding at points, graceful at others. The broad range of artistry plays out in solitary and collective settings, flowing effortlessly through phases. The parts and their sum are equally rewarding.

Track Listing

Central Flame; Symbolic Reality; Flesh and Bone; Inner Speech; The Other Universe; Law of Sequence.


Matthew Shipp: piano; Mat Maneri: viola; William Parker: bass.

Album information

Title: Symbolic Reality | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Rogue Art



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