|Matthew Shipp’s One is nothing shy of an overt statement about belief in everything, spiritual, psychical, physical, mystical. The recording testifies to Shipp's irrefutable capacity to pull all the strings together and weave an intricate musical network of sonic beauty.
The force of this solo piano statement is unswerving. In his prime, Shipp has taken steps to cut the cord to his past and walk bravely into more unknown improvisational territory. There is nothing so inviting as to make ourselves privy to such exploration. To be led by a master of self-awareness, self-knowledge and self-confidence to the vast numbers of combinations, clusters, chords, and tempestuous single notes on the keyboard is an adventure worth every second of experiencing.
Seizing moments of documenting artful systems of pianistic constructions is one of Shipp’s ardent desires. This is what he lives for….this is his method of discovery. The fact that he imparts this by recording is a gift to those who dare to listen. No matter how many times this recording reaches the listener, it is a comfort to hear it…a comfort because of the solidity of Shipp’s comfort with the piano. His approach to the keyboard is with innocence and wonder. A key component of his genius is the fact that he gives the listener breathing room. It is not his interest to pack the listener into a box, unable to escape. His interest is to express himself, dig in his heels, bear down to reach his inner needs and feel good. Certainly, thematic riffs rise and fall throughout a consistent climb towards an ultimate climax of resolution within each separate sonoral essay. The resolutions can be calm, quiet and pensive or serious, forceful and loud. Granted the presence of his propensities for chords, which are stark and driven, and are combined with single fingered, heavily rhythmic accentuations, the remaining melodies, slowly unfolding note by note, phrase by phrase, run by run, sometimes approach the shape of lullabies.
Shipp cradles us and himself through the intensity of his process of opening up roads less traveled, the roads on which he may take steps familiar and memorable to the listener, but which, to the extent that the recording allows, are steps that, in the aftermath, are purely indigenous to this road. Shipp takes the road where the overtones of the notes he plays radiate into the atmosphere, irretrievable in their Hertz-ian energy, yet are entirely installed in the universal aural memory. Just as we cannot know the shape of occurrences from one moment to the next in the context of this music or even of living, so we can be left in suspension…The suspension of ending and resolution, which truly is a beginning, the two of which when put together are a continuation. The whole point is that time is one unit. We divide it up when we go down our own individual channels.
It is only once that we are here on this planet in the physical sense. We should consider ourselves fortunate to have been here simultaneously with Matthew Shipp. He touches us without our really knowing that he is doing so.