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September 2001

John Butcher
Fixations (14)
Emanem

Fixations (14) features material recorded live from 1997 to 2000 on which John Butcher plays soprano and tenor saxes unaccompanied. Some of the pieces on the album, though improvised, resemble studies, in that various musical elements are stressed on them, like a particular extended technique or method of developing a line. Butcher's a skilled, original and creative artist who has developed a unique vocabulary of colors and textures. All of the tracks here have arresting aspects. Some, such as "Third Bottle" and "Last Bottle" have him combining unusual timbres and methods of construction. But Butcher is a melodic player with a nice sense of motivic development, and doesn't need unusual sonorities to create a stimulating performance, however, as his lyrical "Woodland Drift" indicates. Butcher plays in an unused railway station on "The Train and the Gate Part 1" and "Part 2," and the location gives his work extra resonance; you can sometimes hear trains moving along in the background, accompanying the saxophonist.

Originally published in September 2001
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