John Butcher – Invisible Ear (Weight Of Wax)

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Originally released in 2003 in an edition of 600, this is another strange and curious example of the mastery of UK saxophonist John Butcher. The opening piece alone Swan Style demonstrates what we’re working with here. Not the high pitched avant electronics that we think we’re hearing, rather a close miked saxophone, perhaps with a little bit of feedback. In fact each piece here demonstrates another peculiar alien sound and another innovate texture he’s able to coax from his instrument, whether it’s through breathing technique, mic placement, or approaching the instrument in a way you never thought possible. In fact there are three main approaches here, the aforementioned close miked soprano sax, amplified feedback and finally multi-tracks where he has layered for example five tenor and three soprano saxes, creating a dense moving drone.

Perhaps most interesting are the pieces devoid of wind, his amplified feedback work, such as the eight and a half minute Streamers, where the feedback melds with his note hits creating these tuned percussive electro runs that seem to reference gamelans and steel drums.

It’s the diversity of approach here that makes it’s re release so welcome. It never becomes tiresome because Butcher is always trying something new. Some of the textures as positively amazing, you almost feel like you can taste them. Sure it’s seven years old but with such rigorous, diverse and interesting techniques, it could have been made today.

Bob Baker fish

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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.

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