Some uncompromising records of good quality seem predestined for neglect or obscurity. So it is with this taut and melodic release; an interesting mix of jaunty minimalism, baroque abstraction and a smidgen of the kind of understated, introspective instrumentation that is to myths of the American Old West as beer foam is to a glass.
On his debut release, Jeffrey Bützer plays piano, toy piano, electric piano, accordion, toy accordion, melodica, glockenspiel, reed organ, banjo, harmonica, guitars, bass, autoharp, ocarina, tongue drum, drums & percussion. Regardless of whether or not we need a Jeffrey Bützer action figure to play those toy instruments, the result is most definitely an album, since it bears repeated listening from start to finish, thanks to a vigorous breadth and subtle development. The odd title track has an almost ska-like opening rhythm. The wheezing melancholy of; Wooden Giraffe might be an out-take from *The Draughtsmans Contract*, while there is much darker avant-expressionism on; Her Body is a Swamp. The record carries an endemic quasi-gamelan pulse and has a physicality that sporadically twitches like the leg of a dreamer. Bützer knows the value of repetitive phrases but is brave enough to allow a surprising element of decay and breakdown to emerge , which, of course, in hindsight seems entirely natural. Either that or he ran out of ideas.
Who is she and what did she get in exchange for her leg? Someones hand upon it? A brief or lasting freedom? Regret? Does the title (as if Hans Christian Andersens little mermaid in reverse) refer to the trading of some physical mobility to gain the means by which to articulate expression? Was it sacrifice, or gain? A life spared? Season tickets to Old Trafford? Is the leg of flesh or wood? We can enjoy this record and keep the mystery of speculation.
Tarred and Feathered; sounds less like an experience of violent retribution than a pleasant afternoon spent by the river, having tea and cakes with the vicars daughters. The pretty sounds on Carbonated Sewing Machine; don't appear to be derived from a device for stitching.
Actually, such sounds embroider; Valse instead, as if figures in a tapestry wandered over to the next scene for a relaxing interlude. The track; Broken Blunderbuss, One Hundred and Sixty Three Black Bubbles; has the feeling of an epic journey beginning, a sense which, apart from a see-sawing lull on; Part 2; is more-or-less maintained throughout its following 6 parts.
On the final track, Her Body is a Swamp; Bützer shows a willingness to dissolve compositional structure and also to incorporate a raw, noisier dynamic. Images of a motorcycle traversing sand dunes came to my mind, trying to avoid getting stuck; along with a vague sense of memory clinging to skin. It would be a stretch to wonder whether or not Jeffrey Bützer will follow a more minimalist path forged by such luminaries as Terry Riley, maybe choose to add words and singing to his work, perhaps veer whole-heartedly into a 21st Century folk dance music, or (more likely) plot another course entirely. *She Traded Her Leg *has enough pure listening pleasure and signposts for future projects that, either way lies intrigue and, most probably, reward.