Matthew Bourne: 'Irrealis'


Matthew Bourne

Release Date: 27 May 2022

Irrealis is a collection of prepared piano pieces, recorded in a single session, each take played as live without any overdubs. Having taught himself the basics of prepared piano by throwing confectionary into his school’s instrument, elements of these experimentations played a key role in Bourne’s early performances. This culminated in an infamous performance piece which saw the explosive musical demolition of an upright piano with a sledgehammer. Far from the staid academic process the discipline is often approached with, Irrealis sees a restless improvisational musician explore the possibilities of his instrument with a box of nuts, bolts and Blu-Tak, and a sense of playfulness and spontaneity.

Having prepared the piano for work on a lengthy job soundtracking a film, Bourne took the opportunity to use the set-up to let loose, before returning the piano to its original state. A few minutes into these improvisations, he decided to hit the record button. With no real idea what these pieces would add up to, we’re given a rare snapshot of Bourne playing for his own enjoyment – his innate sense of melodicism shining through the percussive clatter and altered tunings.

“These tracks were made moments after recording some pieces for another project – caught impulsively and without alteration of the preparations, whilst also on the precipice of velleity,” Bourne explains. “This is the place from which much of my work tends to emerge. At the conclusion of each piece, there seemed an impetus to continue onto the next, and again to the next.”

“Irrealis refers to an event that hasn’t occurred, or at least hasn’t yet occurred,” Bourne continues. “I liked the idea that what I’m doing is something of an unreality – the end result is never audible to me at the time.”


Digital (BAY 117E)

Limited edition black vinyl LP (750 copies) (BAY117V)


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Matthew Bourne: 'Irrealis'

Limited Edition LP

Matthew Bourne: 'Irrealis' LP