With a reputation as a fearlessly unpredictable pianist and composer, Matthew Bourne is a passionate explorer of sound, possessed of a burning desire to make music on anything old, broken or infirm – having taught himself the basics of both conventional and prepared piano (by throwing confectionary into his school’s instrument), these experimentations were to quickly find their place amongst Bourne’s early public performances.
Born in Avebury, Wiltshire in 1977, Bourne first came to national attention as a winner of the Perrier Jazz Award in 2001, which was followed by an award for innovation at the BBC Radio Jazz Awards in 2002, and the International Jazz Festivals Organisation’s International Jazz Award in 2005. Renowned for his intensely personal and sometimes confrontational solo work, Bourne’s uncanny ability to balance delicacy and virtuosity, while establishing a close affinity with his audience, have become hallmarks of his concert performances.
Bourne’s first solo studio album, Montauk Variations (The Sunday Times’ Leftfield Album of the Year in 2012), was celebrated for its sense of stillness and serenity, marking an important musical turning point in his career and the beginning of a new creative direction, with pieces from this and subsequent albums appearing on compilations by Bonobo and Hot Chip.
With a nod to the pioneering work of Annette Peacock and Paul Bley, Bourne’s next step was to turn his considerable talents to the world of analogue synthesisers. Created without the use of computers or sequencers, moogmemory is the first album to be recorded using only the Lintronics Advanced Memorymoog, and naturally led to Radioland: Radio-Activity Revisited – a visceral live audio/visual experience created to mark the 40th anniversary of Kraftwerk’s seminal Radio-Activity album, produced in collaboration with electronic composer Franck Vigroux and installation artist Antoine Schmitt.
Bourne returned to the piano for Isotach in 2017. Skeletal piano motifs, an aching use of space and sparing cello arrangements were deployed to devastating effect, picking up glowing four-star reviews in The Guardian and Mojo, and featured in Paolo Sorentino’s 2018 film LORO. The intervening years saw more collaborations: Nightports w/Matthew Bourne for their Leaf Label debut, and a series of two-piano concerts with late pianist Keith Tippett, resulting in the release of the double-album, Aeolian.
Perennially in demand as a collaborator and co-conspirator, Bourne has his fingerprints on a huge number of projects, having worked with artists as diverse as Broadway Project, Daylight Music, Alabaster Deplume, Brian Irvine, Jameszoo, Nostalgia 77, Annette Peacock, Amon Tobin, Marcus Vergette, Mike Westbrook, and John Zorn.
Whilst continuing to develop his solo piano work (releasing Désinances for Sähkö Recordings in 2021, and the mini-album Irrealis for prepared piano in 2022), Bourne’s current musical focus sees him working on a forthcoming solo album for The Leaf Label, This is Not for You, in addition to projects in development for solo harmonium, a Yamaha PSR-80, more Memorymoog pieces; and a new album with longtime collaborator Keeley Forsyth (Debris / Photograph / Limbs).