John Butcher + 13 at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

Source: Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

John Butcher (UK, 1954)
Fluid Fixations (2021) 60’ World Premiere

John Butcher saxophones / saxophone recordings
Isabelle Duthois voice / clarinet
Liz Allbee trumpet
Matthias Müller trombone
Sophie Agnel piano
Aleksander Kolkowski stroh viola / musical saw
Angharad Davies violin
Hannah Marshall cello
John Edwards double bass
Pascal Niggenkemper double bass
dieb13 turntables
Pat Thomas electronics
Ståle Liavik Solberg drums
Mark Sanders percussion

Saxophonist John Butcher returns to hcmf// and doubles up. Twice the size of previous festival commissions somethingtobesaid and Isola, this new, communally performed piece sees him superimpose musical styles, drawing on the distinct practices of 14 different musicians. A love letter to the relationships formed through improvisation, Butcher developed the score for Fluid Fixations by looking back on 20 years of collaboration, exploring the one-to-one collaborations he’s had with each individual artist involved in performing the piece. A myriad of personal connections are scattered through it, Butcher coalescing memories of those special, unrepeatable moments of person-to-person contact into a larger work about the harmony of different approaches.

Butcher has dedicated his musical career to imagining alternate realities for the saxophone, finding new ways for it to be an instrument through extended techniques, playing scenarios and unexpected collaborations. The music has been free-ish, reducing the inhibitions of music-making while searching for new systems. Right down to the name, Fluid Fixations considers the way musical freedom is structured and fabricated, with Butcher assembling logical ideas – ‘precise notation, text, imagery and instructions’ – and dismantling them by encouraging the instincts of those around him.