As I get older, my tastes become more refined. And yet, I’ve been a snob for years. I can’t really reconcile those two concepts, but suffice it to say, I’m a jackass, yet I’m trying to improve myself. These changing tastes include music, but are certainly not limited to that realm. I’m trying new and daring foods, reading more obscure authors, viewing a better class of film and dabbling in the visual arts. It could be argued that this is making me more of a snob than ever, but I’d rather do that, while keeping myself open to new things, than to inhabit the opposite, someone who experiences the unknown and merely dismisses it as `alien.’
It is in this vein that I introduce to you one of the more challenging yet rewarding albums quietly released in the latter half of 2008, Nick Butcher’s Bee Removal. I first became aware of Nick Butcher through my brother. Being a poster designer who exhibits at Flatstock events, my sibling made a lot of friends in the business and saw a lot of rock posters. I would occasionally help him out at his booth while he would take bathroom breaks or grab some food, and I would pass the time by asking him various and sundry questions about graphic art. Once I asked him to name some poster artists whose work he admired. He rattled off a few names, made a few compliments, somewhat half-heartedly, as I would have expected, as he is quite picky and very hard to please. But, his face lit up momentarily as he started to talk about Nick Butcher.
Maybe it’s because Butcher grew up like my brother, with both an interest in music and in graphic design. Maybe that particular combination creates a unique aesthetic. Then again, almost every poster artist is or was in a band, so there goes that idea. Butcher interned with Jay Ryan, probably one of the most well known designers in the business thanks to his work being both immediately and recognizably cute, and for being prolifically great. But Butcher’s artistic style is miles away from Ryan’s. Whereas Ryan’s style is somewhat a mix of comic strip and architectural drawing, Butcher’s is abstract, intentionally messy, yet always compositionally interesting. I’ll give you one guess as to who probably gets more work and sells more posters.
When Nick Butcher played at SXSW in 2007, my brother intended on seeing the show. Unfortunately, he missed it as he was selling posters, but never having heard his music (at that time only the critically celebrated book / CD was released, The Complicated Bicycle) he was curious. A mutual friend said of Butcher’s music, and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s just like his art, a small few really love what he’s doing, and nobody else gets it.” And that, in essence, is how to sum up the music of Nick Butcher. Bee Removal is the latest in Butcher’s minimalist journey of found sounds and abstract meditative composition. I could go track by track and try to give some kind of description that wouldn’t quite measure up to what is actually happening, or I could simply tell you that Bee Removal is breathtaking. This album is a breath of much needed fresh air in a musical world polluted with meaningless noise. Count me in as one of the `small few,’ Nick Butcher is a true artist.
Brian Eno- Discreet Music
Tetuzi Akiyama- Pre-Existence