"… a kind of ideal duet, no imitation conversation but two simultaneous composers each repeatedly provoked and silenced, prodded and enchanted by the other…" – Stuart Broomer (liner notes)
Sophie Agnel / piano
John Butcher / tenor and soprano saxophones
recorded on 29 November 2019 at ausland, Berlin
engineered by Andrew Levine
edited and mixed by John Butcher
mastered by Andreas 'Lupo' Lubich
liner notes by Stuart Broomer
lp design by Yaqin Si
inner sleeve photography by Cristina Marx/Photomusix
manufacturing by Daniel Klotz/Die Lettertypen
If it’s in Paris that Sophie Agnel was born in 1964, it is towards other sounding islands in the heart of a reinvented temporality that she dwells today, at the stern of a grand piano, an instrument that she turns into a real living & vibrating organism.
Classically trained, escaped from jazz (drawn away by the too strict treatment of harmony), Sophie Agnel boards the piano from every sonic angle this musical vessel can offer : keys, strings & board are simultaneously apprehended, in a mixed procedure (as we say of painting techniques) that would be understated if it was reduced to the cagian definition of the prepared piano. Considering the instrument – that she extends with several accessories, paper cups, balls or strings – as a poetic supplier of anamorphic textures, the musician takes it to be an equal match to the wider diversity of musical systems, whatever the craft they where conceived in (from physiological to electro-acoustic) ...
We would then no longer be surprised to notice her understandings with Michel Doneda and to find her to the side of the wet saxophone of Alessandro Bosetti, of the acoustified electric guitar of Olivier Benoit, of the voices of Catherine Jauniaux and Phil Minton, or the keyboard of Christine Wodraska...
The same seal of esthetic evidence marks all of her musical companionships, with this same taste, beyond the narrative, for the delicate sonic quests and blossoming of dimensions to which the auditor takes part through an active listening : in the heart of Jean Pallandre’s phonographic worlds, of Jerôme Noetinger & Lionel Marchetti’s small scale cinema, John Butcher or Axel Dörner’s crimpy tissues, by the lovely machines of Erik M or Ikue Mori, the harmonico-stratospheric rustling of Stéphane Rives...
The originality of the research conducted by Sophie Agnel today leads her to develop, in solo or with significantly chosen companions, a most refined and highly poetic approach to sound that makes each of her concerts a moving construction filled with chiseled musical gestures, a soft and sumptuous irradiation.
Butcher 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 pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics. Since the early 80s he has collaborated with hundreds of musicians – including Derek Bailey, Rhodri Davies, Andy Moor (EX), Phil Minton, Christian Marclay, Eddie Prevost, John Stevens’ SME, Gino Robair, Polwechsel, Mark Sanders, John Tilbury, and Okkyung Lee.
Alongside long term projects he values occasional encounters; from large groups such as the EX Orkestra & Butch Morris’ “London Skyscraper”, to duo concerts with Fred Frith, Akio Suzuki, Paal Nilssen-Love, Keiji Haino, David Toop, Otomo Yoshihide, Sophie Agnel and Matthew Shipp.
Recent compositions include “Penny Wands” for Futurist Intonarumori, two HCMF commissions for his own groups, “Good Liquor Caused my Heart for to Sing” for the London Sinfonietta and “Tarab Cuts”, a response to recordings of early Arabic classical music which was shortlisted for a 2014 British Composer’s Award.
“English saxophonist John Butcher may be among the world’s most influential musicians, operating at the cutting-edge of improvisatory practice since the ‘80s. Whenever an acoustic musician starts to sound like a bank of oscillators, a tropical forest, a brook or an insect factory, Butcher’s influence is likely nearby.” – New York City Jazz Record.