FMP/Free Music Production (Germany)
Avant-Garde, Free Improvisation

Album Review

First, the brass tacks: the trio of saxophonist John Butcher, vocalist Phil Minton, and guitarist Erhard Hirt is featured here in two separate gigs in the summer of 1995, the first at Musique Action in Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy in June, and the second at the Free Music festival in Antwerp in August. One can imagine the kinds of aural destruction these three are capable of because they've played together for years. Hirt's two solo records are some of the most colorful and puzzling titles to come out of the electric guitar oeuvre, with his crayon box of effects. Minton is well-known as a vocalist capable of both the classical repertoire and the sounds of a cartoon library sometimes rolled into one, and Butcher, despite his own predilection for free improv, is a skilled jazzman with a signature tone on the soprano and tenor saxophones. Over these eight pieces they manage once more to combine startling arrays of color, texture, space, and tonality. In his throat-singing voice, Minton creates actual rhythmic patterns, from which Hirt and Butcher find doors and move both together and separately around those sounds. On the third part of the Vandoeuvre gig, in a piece that lasts over nine minutes, what begins as a slow, deliberately paced creep into tension finally erupts: Butcher's soprano plays ribbons in response to Minton's tenor and bass histrionics, which occasionally evolve -- or devolve -- into screams. All the while Hirt doesn't play guitar as much as provide different aural platforms for the improvisation to move forward, back off, and move sideways and inside out. Fans of FMP and any of these three players will find delight, humor, and sometimes astonishment when this all clicks. Those who are just wetting their feet in the free improv pool may want to wait a bit before taking on something this far off the ledge. Wonderful, human, funny, and of course innovative, the trio of Minton, Butcher, and Hirt offers grand proof of the many possibilities for new sounds even among old friends.
Thom Jurek, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Vandoeuvre, Pt. 1
  2. Vandoeuvre, Pt. 2
  3. Vandoeuvre, Pt. 3
  4. Vandoeuvre, Pt. 4
  5. Vandoeuvre: Zugabe
  6. Antwerpen, Pt. 1
  7. Antwerpen, Pt. 2
  8. Antwerpen, Pt. 3