British innovative and experimental sax player John Butcher was invited in June 2022 to play inside the mammoth Brønshøj water tower in the suburbs of Copenhagen. The Brønshøj Vandtårn is a concrete water tower, 20m wide and 34m high, built almost a hundred years ago and has a large, lingering reverberation. The cover artwork, designed by Butcher and Cathy Fishman, shows Brønshøj’s architectural drawings from the tower’s construction in 1928.
Butcher experimented before with resonant spaces including a giant gasometer, a hollowed-out Japanese mountain (documented in Cavern With Nightlife, World of Wax, 2004), an underground reservoir, a Victorian mausoleum and a massive World War II oil tank (documented in Resonant Spaces, Confront, 2008), James Magee’s The Hill in the West Texas desert (At The Hill Of James Magee, with Joe McPhee, Trost 2021).
The Very Fabric suggests another sonic experience of a singular, enormous acoustic architecture that inspires a different and distinct approach and interaction with its acoustic qualities. Butcher had to find the right music for the unique acoustics of the Brønshøj water tower. Butcher, who plays on tenor and soprano saxes, says that «some sounds seem to float away as if through liquid, others acquire a shifting haze, and some just prefer to sit around».
Butcher spent a whole day in the Brønshøj water tower with recording engineer Jesper Hviid and recorded 11 short pieces. These pieces highlight Butcher’s imaginative sonic vision and his commanding, poetic playing, obviously, with his array of extended breathing techniques, within this highly reverberating space, as he creates ethereal, almost transparent sax meditations, sketches enigmatic feedback overtones with the tenor sax, suggests unsettling, resonant sounds that play with repetition, elusive melodies and tension and transforms his saxes into otherworldly instruments that produce abstract yet seductive sounds.
Butcher said before that «a lot of the pleasure in giving solo concerts is connected to the hope of finding, spontaneously, some music you didn’t really know about beforehand». He found within the Brønshøj water tower fantastic music.
John Butcher (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophones, feedback tenor saxophone)