Jason R. Butcher is a musician, visual artist, and teacher who resides in Atlanta Georgia. His music, produced with the Buchla Series 200 Electric Music Box, can be harsh, grating, and chaotic, seemingly the polar opposite of the man whose words are so measured and eloquent. Mr. Butcher wrestles with his instrument creating self-generating patch systems that seem to be devoid of humanity but nonetheless present the listener with a sonic pantheon of experience...to paraphrase William Blake, the road of excess in this case does lead to the palace of wisdom indeed. For more go to http://fastheadache.blogspot.com/
1. Given your background as a visual artist how does that experience and
creative process influence your music-making?
My background as a visual artist informs a great deal of what I do with my instrument, and generally speaking I feel most of my goals have little to with what one might associate with music making or songwriting. Instead, I often use the system as a drawing tool operating in the realm of sound. The very physical nature of the modular synth, and the way it can be configured through a wide variety of approaches has always appealed to me. Most of my art centers around figures that are somehow conflicted or deformed, often moving erratically or tangled in tense or uncomfortable environments or moments. My approach and goals when working with sound are nearly the same, and the process is equally as satisfying to me as an artist.
2. I noticed Cardew plays a role in your newest visual work; is his influence musical per se or is it related solely graphically?
The influence of Cardew on my recent animations stems more from the graphic nature of his score Treatise and his writing than his musical output or renditions of the Treatise score, etc. The socio-political aspect of the writing and how his concerns about society and culture could be adapted visually to particular pages of Treatise that resemble barren sci-fi like landscapes was the genus of the project. I had already set about animating cycles of individuals affected - afflicted really - by harmful elements of the atmosphere. Some portion of this reflects my own sentiments about unsustainable populations and the impact of our presence as a species on this planet.
3. Could you tell me something about your "Chaotic Synthesis Recording #3"? Is this a direction your work or your cooperative creative activities with Don Hassler will follow?
Chaotic Synthesis Recording #3 was a response to Dan Slater's article in CMJ some years back that had been influential to me and others mining similar sound territory. I also wanted to work through a number of modules individually as limited sets of functions in order to familiarize myself with specific behavior of my system's operation. I'm looking forward to exploring the other techniques described by Slater in the article - as a cross coupled Buchla 258 dual oscillator only equates to a small fraction of the territory he describes - and hope to create additional, thematically related pieces in the future.
My collaborations with Don Hassler are usually extensions of our conversational exchanges and are often based around our processes, approaches, and/or particular examinations associated with some module or another. Most notable of these conversations is probably regarding the 'Self-Playing Patch', or 'Noodle' as it is sometimes called by some - a patch which is constructed and then recorded, or experienced, without additional patching interaction for its duration. The process can have many intriguing aspects - usually when composing a self-playing patch I'm attempting to create a system which varies dynamically, a sort of a tangle of energy or energies that might spread and contract across several axes or dimensions. The number of lines creating this tangle can be great or small, and entire tangle may vary as a system (such as along an overall trajectory). Also interesting to me in the moment at which the patching ends and the recording ends. Sometimes a few moments after pressing record the patch begins to destabilize, or perhaps its components become too obvious (or rather the ears aware) and the illusion is destroyed - much like a painter working in some fluid medium, setting it up on an easel to photograph, suddenly finding one of the colors wasn't quite dry and has started to bleed...