Nick Butcher's Homemade Sounds | Bleader

Nick Butcher's Homemade Sounds


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Nick Butcher
  • Nick Butcher
Nick Butcher is best known in Chicago as a visual artist, particularly for the gorgeous screened posters he's made with his girlfriend Nadine Nakanishi (a onetime Reader employee) under the name Sonnenzimmer since 2006. Their artwork is marked by a charming sort of abstraction that mixes geometric shapes, text, and everyday objects into sparse collages, balancing precision with a decidedly homemade touch. The same can be said about Butcher's less frequent work as a self-taught musician.

Butcher makes instrumental electronic music that's modest in scale, warm in tone, and DIY in construction. Though he mostly assembles his recordings with a computer, the majority of his sound sources are analog—including loops from old cassettes and scratchy vinyl, which he processes and recombines into something new. The music on his debut album, 2005's The Complicated Bicycle (Home Tapes), is a bit erratic—which makes some sense, because it was culled from his early experiments created between 2002 and '04 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, before he moved to Chicago in 2005. But there's nonetheless something immediately appealing about its scratchy bloops, delicate melodies, and rippling tones. The CD is packaged in a lovely booklet generously decorated with screened art that he and Nakanishi created.

His second release, the vinyl-only Bee Removal (2008), feels deliberate and coherent by comparison. Butcher's pieces are more austere and focused here; there's less going on in each track, but at the same time there's a greater sense of contrast between the various components and a more fluid sense of structure. His live performances are looser and seem less composed than his recordings, and his shift to more open-ended terrain in a solo setting has another outlet in an improvised trio called My Silence with drummer Mike Reed and bass clarinetist Jason Stein, where his keen sense of texture and his fluency with reshaping and twisting terse found phrases work exceptionally well.

Butcher gives one of his relatively rare solo performances tomorrow night at the Empty Bottle, in celebration of the five-year anniversary of The Complicated Bicycle's release.

Below you can hear "Minutes Overlap," a track from that album:

Today's playlist:

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord, Accomplish Jazz (Hot Cup)
Galactic, Ya-Ka-May (Anti)
Guy Klucevsek, Dancing on the Volcano (Tzadik)
Will Sellenrad, Balance (Beezwax)
John Abercrombie Quartet, Wait Till You See Her (ECM)

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