STEREOGUM - Last Dream of the Morning

Mark Sanders - John Edwards - John Butcher

Ugly Beauty

Saxophonist John Butcher is a genuine explorer. He's fascinated by the physical properties of sound, and his music frequently explores the room it's being created in - he'll bounce tones off walls, or change his approach based on what he hears as he's playing. He also uses every aspect of the horn; scraping reed sounds or the pops of the saxophone's valves are as important as "notes." Sometimes he operates in a semi-conventional free jazz mode, but more often than not he's in a zone of near-total abstraction, shifting from dinosaur-like roars to high-pitched squeals like the air seeping from a balloon, or chewing on a single short phrase until he's wrung every possible permutation out of it.

His two partners, bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders, are doing strong work, too; there's never an attempt to set up a conventional rhythm, but the way they fit together, and support Butcher, turns the whole thing into a whirling storm of sound, and Edwards' bass sound is absolutely huge.

© Phil Freeman / STEREOGUM, August 2017.