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WIRE - Bell Trove Spools

John Butcher

Listening to John Butcher on the rebound from Tony Bevan's download is illuminating. Bevan reveals the saxophone by taking you inside its harmonic topography; Butcher does the precise opposite - his improvisations reveal the saxophone's inner dimensions by placing the instrument in the context of landscape.
Bell Trove Spools, his first record for Northern Spy was recorded in a Houston art gallery, home to a permanent exhibition of Dan Flavin, and in a high-ceilinged marble room in Brooklyn, the new base of the Issue Project Room venue.

The first piece, called A Place To Start, is just that - a scene-setting prologue that finds Butcher dealing up sustained, dulcimer-like harmonic eddies that fold back into themselves.
Padded Shadow chases sound on the run, tap-dancing key noises booming around resonant echoes, while Willow Shiver uses rigid, dry multiphonic overblows to jam the instrument into a grinding, looped mechanism.

And Butcher's on a roll with his titles. Perfume Screech tells its own story; a sequence of four pieces called Dart all aim straight for the expressive bullseye. The brazenly untreated melodic contours his fingers find in Third Dart are oddly reminiscent of Elizabethan melancholia, or viol consort music.

© Philip Clark - WIRE