A sixtieth birthday might be greeted as a time of reflection, a looking back on a life well-lived. Or it might serve as a call to action, as it did for pianist Satoko Fujii as she celebrated her sixth trip around the sun by releasing twelve albums in 2018. Matthew Shipp also answers the call to action at hitting that six decade mark, though he probably won't take things as far as Fujii did. But who knows? He is a productive, multiple-albums-a-year artist.
In celebration of his sixtieth birthday in 2020, Shippalways pushing his artistry forwardplans to offer up (at least) two albums. The first is Piano Equation, a solo outing which finds the artist expanding and, at the same time, focusing his vision, sounding, as always, as if he is delving into cosmic mysteries, painting sharp-angled auditory geometrics like a keyboard Picasso.
Percussive, often prickly angularity abounds; at times he seems to summon roiling thunderclouds. The title tune starts the disc with a quirky pensiveness, a fervid and unflinchingly exploratory ruminationon what is anybody's guess, some dark, algebraic seach for the melodic X factor perhaps. "Swing Note From Deep Space" finds Shipp channeling Sun Rain spirit if not in soundas he pulls in ominous star-fueled sonic emissions out of the black void.
Shipp has been compared to Thelonious Monk. The percussive cragginess is there, but Monk wrote about seventy tunes and worked constant re-vistitations of them. Shipp is an inveterate explorer, constantly discovering new concepts: the funhouse mirror playfulness of "Clown Pulse," or the ominous murk that gives way to the tolling of the bell on "Cosmic Juice," the tune that closes out a particularly fine solo outing from Matthew Shipp.
Piano Equation; Swing Note From Deep Space; Piano In Hyperspace; Vortex Factor; Land Of The Secrets; Void Equation; Tone Pocket; Clown Pulse; Radio Signals Equation; Emission; Cosmic Juice.
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