Shiver and Matthew Bourne: Volume 1

Forty-two minute jam from guitarist Chris Sharkey's trio and Yorkshire pianist Bourne reminds of Bill Laswell, Derek Bailey and David Torn


Not to be confused with the internationally renowned choreographer of the same name, Yorkshire-based pianist, composer and analogue synthesizer maestro Matthew Bourne (b. 1977) is nevertheless a force to be reckoned with in his own right.

A serial collaborator who has worked with such notables as Keith Tippett, John Zorn, Nostalgia 77, Annette Peacock and French electro-acoustic trailblazer Franck Vigroux, he documents here an improvised jam with Chris Sharkey’s ambient-jazz power trio Shiver.

Recorded over a two-day period at Bourne’s home studio in Airedale, Volume 1 consists of a single take from day one. While heavily improvised, there are more than enough anchor points to establish a clear sense of shape and form. Imagine, if you will, a mash-up of Paul Schütze’s Phantom City, Bill Laswell and Derek Bailey’s Arcana and David Torn’s collaborations with Sonar, and you’ll have an idea of what to expect.

It starts gently enough, the opening exchanges having an almost dreamlike quality. Then Bourne’s doom-laden chords gradually become more insistent, the piece quickly gaining rhythmic impetus as pent-up tensions are released. Piano soon gives way to Memorymoog, a polyphonic synthesiser from the 1980s, and the impact is as beguiling as it’s otherworldly.

As much as this extended improvisation is characterised by its rapid turnover of ideas, there’s an impressive economy which sees not even the smallest kernel of information wasted. As the sonic layers deepen, musicians rotate between foreground and background, generating new patterns which nudge the music in subtly altered trajectories. Parallels to the ego-less and endlessly fascinating improvisations of AMM are not too fanciful, so well attuned are the four musicians.

A terrific listen from first to last. Volume 2 will share the fruits of Saturday’s session and can’t come quickly enough.

Functional (42.13)
Bourne (p, kyb) with Chris Starkey (elg, elec); Andy Champion (elb); Joost Hendrickx (d). Airedale, Yorkshire, 16 July 2021.
Discus 149CD