Nightports w/Matthew Bourne by Nightports w/Matthew Bourne

Release date: March 2, 2018
Label: Leaf Label

Conceptual art in any shape or form can be a very tricky business.  Usually, there’s no middle ground  – it either works almost perfectly or it is an utter disaster. Usually, most of the artists dabbling in the field end up with latter, because they don’t take into consideration that they have to have their full knowledge of the media they operate in the nails of their small fingers. In its musical presentations, conceptual art usually leans heavily on classical and improvisational elements and there you have to be almost a master to end up with something meaningful, and above all, listenable.

Nightports w/Matthew Bourne, first in a series of conceptual albums for always adventurous “Leaf Label” prepared by Nightports, a sort of a musical collective lead by Adam Martin (Leeds) and Mark Slater (Hull), that always features a guest musician, in this case, it is Matthew Bourne.

The concept sounds simple, meaning right off that is very complicated – it is based on a “rule of restriction”, which in this case is that, as the liner notes explain “only the sounds produced by the featured musician can be used.“ No other ‘additives’ are permitted, organic or otherwise. The musicians can do whatever they want with these sounds – transform, distort, translate process an reprocess stretch, cut order and reorder them. Whatever.

Of course, it is a very interesting toy which can produce some extremely enjoyable sounds and some that can truly grate your nerves. Luckily, in this case, the three musicians that operate with sounds produced by three pianos, mostly remain in the first category. If your first thought that the sounds produced would be of a more gentle kind, you could be well off.

The opening track ‘Exit’ actually gives you a general idea what you can expect. Yes, you do get some beautiful, gentle piano improvisations like on “Window”, but you also get very nervy, rhythmical patterns produced by a multitude of processed piano sounds like on “White-Shirted”. But what even then you get to hear a logical flow of sounds, that are at least intriguing and often very engaging.

Still, I’m more in favour of the subtle and gentler sounds like the ones produced on ‘This Trip, ‘Fragile Years’ or the closer “Leave’, which itself veers in the territory of ambient, ambient that will not simply drive you to sleep (as it, again, includes those rhythmical patterns), but  ambient music that will keep you engaged and interested in the process it was composed and performed too.

On the evidence of Nightports w/Matthew Bourne, we might be having an interesting musical series. Hopefully, like here, the artists will put the music ahead of the concept on which it was based on.

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