AMN Reviews: Magda Mayas, Tony Buck, John Butcher – glints (2022; NI VU NI CONNU)

One of the more interesting aspects of this trio recording from experimentalists Magda Mayas on piano, John Butcher on sax, and Tony Buck on drums, is how Mayas blends her contributions to such an extent with those of Buck – and to a lesser degree Butcher. Mayas is known for her unique approach to prepared piano, where she plays not only the keys but the whole outside and inside of the instrument. Couple that with Buck’s inclusion of unusual percussion instruments (shakers, wood blocks, brushes) from which he draws forth scratches and squeaks as well as beats, and you have a recipe for sound collage. Butcher lends his voice in a number of ways, with looping themes and staccato bursts, also not adverse to adding a “metal on metal” component.

These two long tracks (each 22 minutes) are textural free improvisation at its finest. Recorded late 2019 in Berlin, Mayas, Buck, and Butcher never run short on ideas to draw from their vast vocabularies. All three play more or less continuously throughout, allowing the nature of the pieces to evolve in an organic fashion over time. The result is almost heady. While glints is a highly recommended listening experience, it is hard not to conclude that there was an unconventional visual element to their collaboration as well – watching how they managed to extract these sounds from their instruments would have been a satisfying way to spend the better part of an hour.

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