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.
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.
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
© Philip Clark - WIRE