Fred Frith and John Butcher: The Natural Order (Northern Spy, 2014)

November 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Fred Frith and John Butcher: The Natural Order

Fred Frith and John Butcher: The Natural Order

A document of an entire hour-long improv session from 2009 between Fred Frith (electric guitar) and John Butcher (sax). Very loud, raw and abrasive; both artists set their instruments on stun and never look back. Frith is particularly adept at transforming his guitar so that it sounds like different instruments. In the first track alone, it sounds like a demented circus organ, a radio switching stations, and some sort of drone, basically at the same time. Butcher is known for extended breathing techniques, and can flutter and squeal away for hours at a time. On tracks like “Turning Away In Time”, you almost feel like the guitar notes are being played backwards. “Accommodating the Mess” definitely uses some technique that makes the guitar notes appear to stutter, and then change pitch. And it’s used sparingly, so there’s long stretches of inactivity before the skipping starts again. A few anonymous voices surface in this piece as well, possibly from a stray, unsuspecting radio transmission. A challenging listen, as you would expect from these two experimental music titans.

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