The concrete, electronic sounds of the Langham Research Centre (here Iain Chambers and Robert Worby) combine with the acoustic qualities of John Butcher's saxophone in an extended improvisation session.
Langham Research Centre work as a quartet, a trio or as a duet to make experimental music using resources and ideas that, until recently, were considered obsolete, redundant and outdated. In this recording, Iain Chambers and Robert Worby use cassette machines, oscillators, shortwave radio and amplified small sounds to improvise with John Butcher.
John Butcher is well-known is well known as a saxophonist who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of time and place. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked works and explorations with feedback and extreme acoustics.
For many years Langham Research Centre have been performing indeterminate music by John Cage
, Christian Wolff
and others. Their own works have developed ideas from this experimental tradition as well as musique concrète and post-war European electronic music. During rehearsals they often spend time improvising, galvanised and encouraged by groups like AMM and MEV.
John Butcher has been improvising for decades but has always had an interest in electronic music and the works of postwar Modernist composers. In the context of this release he thinks of his performance as similar to tape-splicing, so that a direct tactile connection is made between the concrète/electronic soundworld and the unparalleled acoustic qualities of the saxophone produced when he is playing. Boundless, outspread and utterly unique.
Langham Research Centre (Felix Carey, Iain Chambers, Philip Tagney, Robert Worby) is a group devoted to authentic performances of classic electronic music, and the creation of new music from their instrumentarium of vintage analogue devices.
Langham Research Centre came together in 2003 with the purpose of using a studio as their instrument: a studio with microphones and also, crucially, several ¼" tape machines. From the start they were interested in manipulating sound on tape and in focusing on one sound source, or a small number of sounds. Their inspiration and enthusiasm are driven by the soundworlds produced by maverick composers working in the middle of the 20th century. Like an early music group's use of historic instruments, LRC continue to work with obsolete equipment including tape recorders, gramophone cartridges and sine wave oscillators, to perform authentic versions of 20th century classic electronic repertoire by John Cage
, Alvin Lucier
John Butcher (born 1954 in Brighton) is a saxophonist whose work ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback, unusual acoustics and non-concert locations. He is well known as a solo performer who attempts to engage with a sense of place. Resonant Spaces
, for example, is a collection of performances recorded during a tour of unusual locations in Scotland and the Orkney Islands.
After publishing a PH.D (1982) in quantum chromodynamics, Butcher left academia and took off with music. He has since collaborated with hundreds of artists, some for many decades. To name a few: Derek Bailey
, Akio Suzuki
, John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble
, Rhodri Davies, Last Dream of the Morning
(with John Edwards & Mark Sanders), Steve Beresford
, Matthew Shipp, Gerry Hemingway, Chris Burn, Magda Mayas
, Gino Robair
& Thomas Lehn), Christian Marclay
, Eddie Prévost, Okkyung Lee
, John Russell
, Ståle Liavik Solberg and Phil Minton.
Compositions have been varied. Three for his own large ensembles at HCMF, two saxophone quartets, a piece for Futurist Intonarumori, Tarab Cuts
(based on early Arabic recordings), and pieces for the London Sinfonietta and CEPRO (created for a XVI convent in Mexico City).
Butcher also values playing in occasional encounters—ranging from large groups such as Butch Morris' London Skyscraper
, Fred van Hove
, the WDR Sinfonieorchester and the EX Orkestra
, to duo concerts with Sophie Agnel
, Joe McPhee, Keiji Haino
, David Toop
, Akira Sakata, Eli Keszler
, John Tilbury
, Fred Frith
, Ute Kanngiesser, and Otomo Yoshihide.