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Shiver - 'Night School' (New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings - NEWJAiM8)


On many occasions I have heard artists take a melody or just an idea and gradually de-construct it; Shiver's new album 'Night School' takes that concept and reverses it, starting with the furthest limits of de-construction and - over the space of 53 minutes - working its way to the melody in a process described by guitarist Chris Sharkey as akin to 'watching a building burn down in reverse'. And at times it is like listening to the musical equivalent of a conflagration.

The piece starts out with spare sounding electronically modified notes and chords which slowly evolve and, by the 9 minute mark, gradually begin to coalesce into something akin to a burning building. By 12 minutes the tone has changed again with electronic shimmers interspersed with clicks and squawks and embellished with phased percussive beats.

And so the evolution continues into soaring glissandos until - just before the half way point - the seeds of a melody begin to appear, slowly joined by a loose rhythm and these gradually merge into a recognisable structure which continually develops until the fully fledged melody appears around five minutes from the end of the piece.

The textural variations in Night School are beautifully nuanced and as a whole this is an extraordinary work and in places it conjures up memories of the early live guitar/tape experiments of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp - no bad thing in my opinion - and continues the natural progression of the trio's blend of jazz, rock and electronica developed over their previous four releases.

Is it jazz? No.

Is it brilliant? DEFINITELY!

Chris Sharkey - guitar

Andy Champion - bass guitar

Joost Hendrickx - drums, percussion

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