Winner of the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Media, 2019


by Ian Mann

June 19, 2024


Like its companion Volume this second Shiver Meets Matthew Bourne release makes for fascinating and absorbing listening.

Shiver Meets Matthew Bourne

“Volume 2”

(Discus Music DISCUS 170CD)

Andy Champion – electric bass, Joost Hendrickx – drums, Chris Sharkey – electric guitar, live processing, production
with Matthew Bourne – piano, Linn-Advanced MemoryMoog

Recorded in July 2021 this is the second volume of music featuring a collaboration between the improvising trio Shiver and the pianist / keyboard player Matthew Bourne, a musician regularly described as a “piano maverick”.

Bourne and Shiver got together for two days at the pianist’s home in July 2021 during a lull in the Covid lockdowns and the recordings that came out of these collaborations can very much be viewed as products of this period.

“Volume 1”, released in 2023, represents the product of the first day of recording and features a single forty two minute track titled “Functional”. That album is reviewed here and my account provides the basis for much of the following biographical detail regarding Bourne and Shiver.

Naturally “Volume 2” features the results of the second day of the recording but this time features five shorter tracks, but there’s still nearly an hour of thought provoking music.

The liner notes from the first album set the scene for both recordings;
“On July 16 2021, Shiver (guitarist Chris Sharkey, bassist Andy Champion and drummer Joost Hendrickx) met up with pianist Matthew Bourne at his house in Airedale, Yorkshire.
Hungry to make music following various lockdowns, cancellations and disappointments, the quartet embarked on a ferocious two-day journey of exploratory music-making. The weather was good, the connection was immediate. There was much laughing, tea-drinking and storytelling. In the evening, the stove was lit and we listened to music: Stanley Clarke, Paul Simon, Sarah Vaughan, Scott Walker, Eugene McDaniels. 
The music from this two day session will be released as 2 volumes. Volume 1 is the first take we played on Day 1, in its entirety. Matthew shifts from Piano to MemoryMoog throughout. Each member of the band spends time in the foreground and background without ever dominating. The group is what’s important here, everyone improvising without explicitly soloing. Ideas come, are explored, then fade before new ideas emerge with confidence and patience.
This music is a good memory from a difficult time and it’s our pleasure to bring it to you now”.

The following biographical details are sourced from my review of “Volume 1”.

Shiver is an electro-improvising trio based in North East England that has been active since 2013 and which released four eponymous EPs during its first seven years of existence - #1” (2013), “#2” (2014),  “#3” (2015) and “#4” (2020).

The last named of these features a single forty minute track, “I Need You To Focus”, edited together from a series of group improvisations, with the band making extensive use of live looping and other electronic techniques.

In 2021 they released their first official full length album for Wesley Stephenson’s New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings imprint. “Night School”  was comprised of another long form piece, the fifty three minute title track, initially written by Sharkey and shaped by the band as they improvise freely around the framework of the composition with real time processing altering the sounds of guitar, bass and drums to create electronic soundscapes that alternate between the calming and the unsettling. My review of “Night School” can be found here.

I also recall enjoying a performance by the Shiver trio at the 2016 Cheltenham Jazz Festival in which they successfully combined elements of jazz, rock and electronica to compelling effect, making highly effective use of looping and layering techniques. My review of that show can be found as part of my Festival coverage here;

Matthew Bourne has long been part of the jazz, improv and experimental music scene in Leeds and beyond, playing both acoustic and electric keyboards, either as a soloist or as a frequent collaborator with the UK’s leading improv musicians.

On a personal note I recall seeing Bourne give a remarkable solo piano performance at London’s Vortex Jazz Club way back in 2006 when he was part of a triple bill at the Dalston Summer Stew series curated by Led Bib, who had opened the show in noisily boisterous fashion. Bourne’s intense solo set was then followed by a  second collective sonic attack from Nottingham noiseniks Pinski Zoo.

More recently I favourably reviewed Bourne’s recorded collaboration with the duo Nightports, musician-producers Adam Martin, based in Leeds, and Mark Slater, based in Hull.

Bourne also appears on “Skeleton Blush”, the 2020 album from the sextet World Sanguine Report, led by the extraordinary vocalist and guitarist Andrew Plummer. Review here;

Bourne has also been part of the band Tipping Point, led by saxophonist James Mainwaring, whose 2015 début album “The Earthworm’s Eye View” is reviewed here;

Bourne is also a favourite of former Jazzmann contributor Tim Owen, who has reviewed a number of the pianist’s live performances, with a variety of different collaborators, for this site.

“Dulcitone 24”, a second collaboration with Nightports, has been released in 2024, just one of six new releases featuring the prolific Bourne to have come out this year. Readers are directed to Bourne’s website for a full overview of this extraordinary musician’s work.

So, on to the music of “Shiver meets Matthew Bourne Volume 2”. Rather then featuring a single full length improvisation this second instalment is slightly more accessible thanks to being divided up into five smaller chunks, although these can hardly be considered as being ‘bite size’ with one piece clocking in at just under nineteen minutes.

Opener “Chromakode” emerges out of studio chatter and continues where the first album left off with its plangent washes of sound augmented by doomy low end piano figures that again sound like depth charges being detonated. Sharkey’ processed guitar echoes and shimmers in this dystopian soundscape, with the thuds, shimmers and rattles of Hendrickx’s drums and percussion again acting as a vital humanising element. This is dark and unsettling music, summoning up dystopian images of an alien world, either deep in space or deep beneath the waves. It’s a scary but compelling place to be.

Bourne’s unaccompanied piano introduces “Flight of the Leather Bird”, his sound bright and sharp but also deeply resonant. At times this extended introduction, reminds me of the playing of the late, great Keith Tippett, which is praise indeed. Towards the close of this section I thought I detected the use of prepared piano techniques and also the use of electronic processing. The eventual arrival of bass and drums is more definitive and takes the piece into its next stage, with Bourne continuing at the piano, accompanied by gently bubbling bass and skittering drums as Sharkey continues to shape and embellish the overall soundscape. There’s even a piano solo of sorts with Bourne’s jagged, Tippett like runs augmented by grounding bass, the increasingly busy bustle of drums and Sharkey’s overall manipulation of the sonic landscape.  The electronics eventually take over and the piece ends with the sound of Hendrickx’s electronically processed drums. Featuring a brilliant acoustic piano performance from Bourne this is one of the album’s stand out cuts.

“Pasadena Gravy” is more directly focussed on electronic sounds as Bourne switches to MemoryMoog. Keyboard, guitar and bass textures swirl and drone, the feel ranging from the gently ambient to the harsh and abrasive as Hendrickx provides the underlying rhythmic pulse.

Presumably these improvisations were titled following the performances. I assume that “From Ohio” takes its name from the vaguely Americana twang of Sharkey’s guitar. It’s also a highly rhythmic piece featuring pounding piano and pummelling bass and drums. Bourne also plays ‘under the lid’ while Sharkey’s live processing techniques continue to shape the music, which becomes increasingly powerful and relentless while twisting itself into terrifying electronically enhanced shapes, before eventually collapsing in on itself.

The title of the closing “Cactus & Roulette” runs with the Americana theme and is the near nineteen minute epic that closes the album with Bourne combining acoustic and electric keyboard sounds. It’s a slow burner of a track that develops slowly and organically via Bourne’s piano ‘solo’, his sound subtly treated and embellished within the ethereal and ambient soundscape. Following the extended piano led opening section the music becomes more obviously electronic and ambient, the tension within the music gradually building, before finally finding release via a searing Sharkey guitar solo that becomes increasingly impassioned as Hendrickx’s drums crash around him. Eventually a peak is reached and the piece finds resolution via an eerie passage of ambient dystopia that evokes images of tumbleweed blowing around deserted streets.

Like its companion volume this second Shiver meets Matthew Bourne release makes for fascinating and absorbing listening. The mix of acoustic and electronic sounds is consistently interesting with Bourne featured extensively on piano as well as on synth. There seems to be an even greater rapport between the four musicians on this second day of the session and the fact that the music is broken down into five distinct sections renders the album more varied and digestible than its companion. In his role of producer Sharkey does a masterful job as the ultimate sculptor of the group’s music, but Bourne, Champion and Hendrickx all make enormous contributions.

I’m not sure whether the Shiver / Bourne alliance has performed for the public at a live gig, but if they ever do it would be a show that I would very much like to see.

The “Volume 2” recording is available here;


blog comments powered by Disqus