The Squid's Ear Magazine

  Rapid SSL





  American Express

© 2002-2017, Squidco LLC

This album documents guitarist Fred Frith and saxophonist John Butcher's first head-to-head encounter in a recording studio, two titans of their instruments playing without overdubs in a single session for remarkable creative and sonic results.

Frith, Fred / John Butcher
The Natural Order

Frith, Fred / John Butcher: The Natural Order (Northern Spy)

Label: Northern Spy    
Released in: USA    

"Guitarist Fred Frith and saxophonist John Butcher are titans within the world of improvised music. Over the last four decades, each of these two men has permanently altered the way in which his instrument is heard: Frith with his (at times literal) deconstruction of the electric guitar, and Butcher with his exploration of the physical properties of sound and extended playing techniques.

Though they've played live together a few times, The Natural Order, recorded in 2009 and mixed in 2012, documents Frith and Butcher's first head-to-head encounter in a recording studio. The album is as pure a document as possible: recorded in a single stretch, with no overdubbing, the 10 tracks appear here in the order of their creation.

Their goals were somewhat different-Frith says he wanted "to see what would happen. To have fun. To deepen the conversation," while Butcher had more specific results in mind: "A thing that's characterised a fair bit of my duo encounters with Fred is working at (for me) high volume. And I really wanted to get into, to go with, the energy of that-but without travelling to some of the overdone places where power often pushes a saxophone."

Indeed, some portions of The Natural Order do get quite loud; "Dance First, Think Later" may remind some listeners of Borbetomagus, while the album's longest track, the 13-minute "Colour of an Eye Half Seen," heads into territory somewhere between free jazz and drone metal. Other, quieter segments, like the middle portion of "Faults of His Feet," or the aptly titled "Butterflies of Vertigo," document the sensitive interplay of two men who've utterly mastered their instruments, yet continually seek to express something new and never before heard.

The Natural Order is as pure a document as possible: recorded in a single stretch, with no overdubbing, the 10 tracks appear here in the order of their creation. Butcher recalls, "It was a morning session, the day after I'd arrived from London. So I was a bit jet-lagged. It was good to be using a studio and engineer (Myles Boisen) I felt comfortable with. (I first went there in '97.) Everything was set up and we could, near enough, just start playing."

Listening to the music for the first time in five years, Frith says, "Recording and performance are so different to experience. In this case I can identify moments of discovery and self-discovery in the exchange that are really exciting to revisit. I think we both adjusted our vocabularies to accommodate what we were hearing, and did so in a spirit of absolute openness and freedom. Which is the way it's supposed to be."

The Natural Order is the perfect title for this album, which captures a single hour of unmediated interaction between two restless, creative spirits determined to make every moment with their respective instruments count. It's not jazz, it's not rock, it's not noise-it's pure music, the product of two men in one place at one time, unique and unrepeatable."-Northern Spy

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
Frith, Fred
John Butcher
Guitarists, &c.
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
Staff Picks & Recommended Items

Search for other titles on the Northern Spy label.

Other Recommended Releases:
Butcher, John / Michael Duch
Frith, Fred / Darren Johnston
Everybody's Somebody's Nobody
(Clean Feed)
S4 (Butcher / Kobi / Koch / Leimgruber)
Cold Duck
Frith, Fred / Michel Doneda

Common Objects: John Butcher / Rhodri Davies / Lee Patterson
Live In Morden Tower
(Mikroton Recordings)
Butcher, John & Mark Sanders
Nakamura, Toshimaru / John Butcher
Dusted Machinery
Frith / Bourne / Oswald
Frith, Fred & Danielle Palardy Roger
Pas de deux nouveau
(Ambiances Magnetiques)
Butcher, John / Nilssen-Love, Pal
(Clean Feed)
Braxton, Anthony / Frith, Fred
Duo (Victoriaville) 2005
Bailey, Derek / Berthiaume, Antoine / Frith, Fred
(Ambiances Magnetiques)

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought:
Nakatani, Tatsuya & Michel Doneda
Wooley, Nate / Ken Vandermark
East By Northwest
(Pleasure of the Text Records)
Neuringer, Keir
Ceremonies Out Of The Air
(New Atlantis)
Ballister (Rempis / Lonberg-Holm / Nilssen-Love)
Worse For The Wear
Wooley / Rempis / Niggenkemper / Corsano
From Wolves To Whales
Dunmall, Paul Sextet
Life in Four Parts
Brotzmann / Edwards / Noble
Soulfood Available
(Clean Feed)
Mayas, Magda / Damon Smith / Tony Buck
Spill Plus
Chant, Tom / John Edwards / Eddie Prevost
All Change
TiPPLE (Gjerstad / Norton / Watson)
No Sugar on Anything
Cooper, Lindsay
Rarities Volumes 1 & 2
(Recommended Records)
Remote Viewers, The
(Remote Viewers)
Mazurek, Rob & Black Cube SP (featuring Sao Paulo Underground)
Return The Tides: Ascension Suite And Holy Ghost
Udu Calls Trio feat. William Parker
The Vancouver Tapes
(Long Song Records)
Price: $10.00
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 3.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 703610875449

Label: Northern Spy
Catalog ID: NS 060
Squidco Product Code: 19768

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2014
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at Guerilla Recordings in Oakland, California on October 11th, 2009 by Myles Boison.


Fred Frith-electric guitar

John Butcher-soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone

Highlight an artist name or instrument above
and click here to Search

Track Listing:

1. That Unforgettable Line 2:34

2. Delirium Perhaps 3:46

3. Dance First, Think Later 3:30

4. Faults of His Feet 6:29

5. Colour of an Eye Half Seen 13:31

6. Turning Away in Time 3:02

7. The Welts, the Squeaks, the Belts, the Shrieks 3:05

8. Butterflies of Vertigo 4:38

9. Be Again, Be Again 5:30

10. Accommodating the Mess 8:56