Nightports is a collaborative project in which producers Adam Martin and Mark Slater curate the sounds of featured solo musicians to make a form of electronic music.
Nightports is based on a simple but unbreakable rule of restriction: only sounds produced by the featured musician can be used. This forces us to explore those sounds thoroughly and inventively. And it maintains our focus on celebrating what’s particular to that musician.
The imposition of this rule of restriction was a way of marking out a territory somewhere between our shared interests in popular music, experimental approaches to composition and music production. We began making music as Nightports in 2010 working with vocalist Emily Lynn. Following a series of EPs, our first album Depart (2015) was based on a single source: Emily. The sounds she could make with her voice and body were distorted, transformed and translated to arrive at an enticing palette of sounds that cut across ambient music, glitchy electronica and the ethereal side of (often supremely delicate) song.
Working with Matthew Bourne
In 2015, Nightports began work on the next projects, including a new journey with the renowned pianist Matthew Bourne whose playing is delicate, frenetic, lyrical and chaotic in equal measure. And what a prospect this is: how do we preserve that energy and character, that personality and depth of nuance? Nightports is not about homogenising each featured musician into a “Nightports sound”. Quite the opposite: it’s about us amplifying and communicating what their music means (to us) and what their sounds can do. This means that each project/album has a distinct sound quality, cohering perhaps only through that concept of restriction. But it also means we get to work with some incredible musicians and get unrivalled access to a rich, generous set of sound materials.
Our work with Matthew began with a recording session at his home in March 2015 and was followed by two subsequent recording sessions (in October 2015 and June 2016) at Besbrode Pianos in Leeds, which houses some fascinating, beautiful and bizarre instruments each with a story to tell. This recording process was all about giving Matthew complete freedom to improvise and respond to the peculiarities of each instrument.
Matthew is adept at manipulating the piano through preparation techniques, striking different parts of the instrument and interacting with the engrained characteristics of each instrument. Harvesting sounds in this way generates a copious amount of material; different pianos, timbres and sonorities layer up to create a labyrinth to be explored back in the studio with processes such as resampling, granulation, time- and pitch-manipulation and good old-fashioned (and meticulous) cutting and pasting. As we write this blog, our album with Matthew is nearing completion with a release due in 2017.
Work in progress
Importantly for us, this sampling of a live musician captures energy and particularities but also the exact moment of interaction between the instrument, technologies, architectural space and the performer, composers and producers.