John Butcher

Guerrilla Mosaics

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Miya Masaoka is billed as playing "laser koto" (which sounds very space age but in fact refers to the use of the instrument to trigger various MIDI devices), but the venerable instrument's distinctive timbre and tuning are still happily in evidence, and inspire British saxophonist John Butcher to turn in some of his most melodic (albeit obliquely) work in recent years. Butcher, who is increasingly being recognized as one of the saxophone's pioneers in terms of extended technique (somewhat frustratingly so, as his extraordinary virtuosity is always put at the service of the music and should not be associated with any particular trendy fad in contemporary improvisation), is in outstanding form, notably on "Cae" and "Covert," and percussionist Gino Robair, whose arsenal of instruments includes a "faux dax" (a homemade version of Hans Reichel's famous daxophone) and various bowed and motorized contraptions, reveals himself once more as one of the most original performers on the scene. Being new and original for its own sake is only a means to end and not an end in itself, however; what counts is the coherence and musicality of the final product, and few musicians working today are able to produce work as coherent and musical as this.

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