Leafcutter John


BY Bryon HayesPublished May 1, 2015

In 2006, John Burton released The Forest and the Sea on Staubgold and then went into a sort of active hibernation. Focused on designing and building a custom light-controlled musical interface, performing and demonstrating his invention, he's only managed to eke out a pseudo-live Leafcutter John album in the almost decade since. Originally "discovered" by Mike Paradinas and known for an organic form of electronic-tinged folk music, Burton's hiatus has found him stretching into more abstract sonic territory, as evinced on Resurrection, his latest outing. 
His processed guitar, percussion and nearly wordless vocals are wrapped in a shell of playful experimentation, the most stunning example of which is album closer "Gulps." On this piece, a lonesome clarinet passage — courtesy of Shabaka Hutchings — succumbs to a gradually expanding field of sound. This sound field originates from a recording of the North Sea that Burton recursively layered 7.1 billion times (one layer for each human on the planet).
The effect of this sonic immensity is dizzying, and the thread of aggressive probing and discovery runs throughout, as the entire album is an exercise in unbridled creativity. Burton has certainly turned his oeuvre on its ear; the results are staggering and an outright pleasure to take in.
(Desire Path)

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