Monday, December 06, 2021

Matthew Shipp - Codebreaker (TAO Forms Records, 2021)

The art of code deciphering and the art of music both share a need for a strong mind and sharp focus, two things that pianist Matthew Shipp brings to every project he embarks upon. While he takes a more melodic approach to the performances on this album, they are no less exploratory than the rest of the music that he has built his highly regarded career upon. The opening track "Codebreaker" develops rippling and cascading sounds alternating with gently played sections building an ominous melody, in a simple yet frightening manner. Shipp uses a softer melodic sense put against tumbling areas of lower end piano on "Spiderweb" making for interesting differences of light and shade, then adding speed and anxiety to further the effect. "Disc" uses injections of jagged chords along side spacious and quiet searching, and a spare pointillism of notes sprinkled in for zest. Clusters of notes create whorls and eddies in the musical streams on "Code Swing" with insistent chords changing the channel of the flow, leading to complex two handed interplay. On "Letter From the Galaxy" there is another example of the the music seeming to start with a gentle opening and then blossoming from there. Sounds of a lonely sounding exoplanet turning gracefully in the void, and twisting melodically like a dancer, with an elastic sense of time and space woven into the music. "Green Man" uses an intricate nature that is somewhat reserved, not loud, but knotty and challenging. The sound changes dynamically to loud pounding repetition of chords and an abrupt conclusion. Undulating piano develops on "Raygun" gaining an interesting approach that is never static, never still or stable, always churning and moving onward in a relentless quest. "Mystic Moon" develops low bass and heavy sounds which gradually lighten, becoming probing and complex, adding dynamic tension to the music which open possibilities for more robust improvisation releasing a melting pot or crucible of ideas. Pushing a strong complex improvisation, "Stomp to the Galaxy" reaches a vision that is kaleidoscopic in scope with a strong tone and approach to the instrument, moving in a very creative fashion, agitating chords pushing the pace of the music to a strong conclusion. Over the course of his career, Matthew Shipp has built a body of work as a solo pianist that can stand with any musician of the era. This fine album is another example of his continual growth and fearless exploration of the medium. It is quite accessible and recommended to all music fans. Codebreaker -

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