Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Free Jazz Bitmaps Vol 1 - Nick Butcher (Sonnenzimmer/Hometapes)

Wandering 'round the Whitechapel Art Book fair the other week I'd just about given up on seeing anything I really wanted or could afford when I spotted a stall holding stuff that caught my eye, such as albums, art work and books. 

Turns out it belonged to Nadine and Nick, who run Sonnenzimmer. They're from Chicago. Chicago! Coincidentally, I was carrying a book called Pathways To Unknown Worlds that's filled with amazing artefacts relating to Sun Ra and his time in the city. I highly recommend it. Nick spotted it and we were off on a Sun Ra-related chat as he told me he knew the guy that put on Sun Ra exhibitions. 

By then I'd selected this album, Free Jazz Bitmaps Vol 1, which Nick had produced, so we also chatted about that. Basically, it's created from micro-samples of House and Jazz made into new pieces by Nick (Side A). These are then given to Chicago-based improvisers Jason Stein, Mike Reed, Jason Adasiewicz, Tim Daisy, Jason Roebke, and Keefe Jackson to do what they liked with (Side B). 

The results are a fascinating exercise in de/reconstruction on Nick's behalf. He adds subtle atmospheric colours to basic beats, both acknowledging their raw appeal whilst rewiring them to add alternate 'meanings' and moods. On the B Side, Jason Adasiewicz's vibraphone conjures beautiful tonal ambience from Great Lake. Jason Stein's bass clarinet playing on HTML Italics is also extraordinary. As a bonus, the album is as handsome as you would expect from these designers, featuring a pull-out print. 

It was a pleasure to meet such good, talented people. I fear I bent their ears a little too much, but they tolerated me. Nadine said she thought London was still a place of great music and culture, possibly the best. That left me dumbfounded. Perhaps it's a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees...and simple over-familiarity. Meanwhile, Chicago sounded exotic to me. The grass is always greener...

Art work from their studio. They also produce posters and literature to accompany various projects. Go to their site and buy something.

Nick & Nadine 2010

Nadine 2008

Nick & Nadine 2013

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