Scene News: Words Fail – the latest release from Australian guitarist, Shannon Bourne

“A guitarist who can play the birds from the trees and the storms from the sky. A musician who really listens”. ~ Jeff Lang

Words Fail is the latest release from Australian guitarist, Shannon Bourne.

A veteran of Melbourne’s music scene, Shannon Bourne’s career began as a sideman to blues legend, Chris Wilson. Since then he has collaborated with and accompanied some of Australia’s most highly acclaimed musicians, including John Schumann, Vika Bull, The Black Sorrows, Tex Perkins’ Band of Gold, Matt Walker, Broderick Smith, Jimmy Dowling, Kerri Simpson, Monique Brumby, Thomas Hugh and Checkerboard Lounge.

Career highlights so far have also included supporting Richard Thompson with Chris Wilson in 2001, being invited to attend SXSW in Austin, Texas (2010), and appearing in the Helpmann Award winning show, The Man in Black starring Tex Perkins. A lyricist and composer of note, Bourne worked as a studio musician and co-writer with Russell Morris on the ARIA Award winning blues trilogy; Shark Mouth, Van Diemen’s Land, and Red Dirt – Red Heart.

A departure from his previous solo releases Burn It Down (2005) and Dark Things (2009), Bourne has taken his greatest and most artistically courageous leap to date. Words Fail is simply Shannon Bourne, his guitar and his improvised imagination – no-one and nothing else.

Words Fail was not initially recorded with the intention of becoming an album. Rather, it was an experimental process and personal journey that had long been an ambition for Bourne – a fan of free-form composition and improvisation. Informed by the likes of Scott Walker, Fripp & Eno, Robin Guthrie, John Martyn and Gavin Bryars, Bourne set out to use the instruments and equipment at hand to “break the rules” that stifle conventional approaches to long-form music expression and delivery.

Engineered and Mixed by celebrated Australian guitarist/writer/producer Jeff Lang, Words Fail is an album exploring the realms, edges and nuances of electric guitar. It is deeply powerful, moody, playful and at times unnerving – a journey guided by the intuition and prowess of the artist. Without hesitation, Bourne believes this to be his best and most honest work yet and it would be very difficult to disagree.

Words Fail will be physically released on Saturday 14 July

And available through iTunes from 28 June

Launch: Sat 14 July, Memo Music Hall, 88 Acland Street St Kilda 7.30pm (Guest: Fenn Wilson)

Tix and info

Shannon Bourne – Words Fail (Independent)

“Improvisation: Making things up on the spot. Spontaneous composition. When a musician is improvising they’re not inventing music itself in front of you, they’re arranging musical elements without the end result being a pre-set structure.

They’re using music as a language and expressing themselves with their grasp of that language in the moment. If it’s a band, they might converse on a theme or topic together. One of the players might be leading the dialogue whilst the others support what they’re saying, for instance.

Solo improvisation is trickier in some respects. An idea occurs and is expressed as a musical motif which is expanded upon, explored, prodded, squeezed and so on, until the exploration of that idea leads to another, thematically linked to the first. This idea is climbed into and probed in a similar manner and so on.

No-one else is conversing with you to spur new ideas. The dialogue has to come from within but the player still needs to listen hard enough to what they’re hearing in their mind, not to mention what they’re hearing in the room, to take it somewhere.

Shannon Bourne: A guitarist who can play the birds from the trees and the storms from the sky. A musician who really listens.

This recording: It was made over two days. Shannon brought his Hiwatt amplifier for his main guitar sound, plus a setup of effects he used to generate drones and textures that ran through a couple of smaller amplifiers.

I set up six microphones – one on each of the Hiwatt’s two speakers, one on each of the ‘drone’ amps, and two for a stereo room sound – and recorded him into a Studer 8 track 1″ tape machine.

There are no overdubbed extras, what you hear on this recording is a series of solo electric guitar improvisations. Don’t ask me how he did it all live off the floor like that, I was only in the room at the time”.

Jeff Lang, March 2018.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.