-Matthew Murphy, Pitchfork Record Review
Ever the prudent iconoclast, pianist Matthew Shipp has used his past contributions to Thirsty Ear's ongoing Blue Series to cross-pollinate jazz with active electronic and DJ-cultures, adding innovators like Antipop Consortium and Chris Flam to his impressive register of collaborators.
For his latest addition to the series, however, Shipp has cleared the gallery to unveil his first solo piano album since 2002's Songs-- an album of jazz standards-- and his first collection of original solo material in nearly a decade. As such, One simultaneously serves as both a meditative re-centering and as a further departure, with Shipp quietly redirecting his familiar post-Cecil Taylor vocabulary towards a singular form of numinous chamber music. With their compact, elegant architecture and measured elocution, One's 12 songs often resemble the early 20th century piano studies of Ravel or Debussy as closely as they do modern jazz. On recent albums like Equilibrium or Harmony and Abyss, Shipp masked similar neo-classical touches beneath surface samples and programmed beats.
But in this uncluttered format, Shipp has patiently afforded himself the space necessary to cultivate his sketches in full. On these tracks he plays with an expectant relish, an audible curiosity about where his compositions might next lead him. And while One will surely disappoint those who've come in hopes of fiery, atom-splitting improvisation, Shipp delivers these refined performances with such authority and sheer inquisitive force that his undisguised enthusiasm for this material can prove easily persuasive.
"Arc" opens the album with a full-bodied, ascendent sequence of chords that confidently pave the way for the splashy "Patmos", which cascades into a dazzling series of single-note runs that pop away like flashbulbs. "Gamma Ray" finds Shipp at his most devoutly Monk-like, chipping away at the song's turbulent rhythms until settling into a loopy, satisfying Jelly Roll Morton rumble. Conversely, on the brief "A Rose Is a Rose" or the sumptiously melodic "Zero", he plays with such a willowy, art-nouveau grace that he seems at points to abandon forward momentum altogether, content to luxuriate in his own sun-splashed idyll.
Unfortunately, Shipp's protracted sense of contentment can also work against him, as over the course of the album there are several instances when he lingers too long in his swirling, watercolored eddies. One is at its most effective when Shipp is at his most demanding, as on the dense tremors of "Electro Magnetism", where his furious, low-end tones threaten to shake the song loose from its floorboards. On such pieces Shipp creates an enthralling, unstable dynamic that he'll ideally build upon in his future work.
< back^ home ^
|all contents © 2000-2013 Matthew Shipp