John Butcher's work ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and extreme acoustics. Originally a physicist, he left academia in '82, and has since collaborated with hundreds of musicians - Derek Bailey, John Tilbury, John Stevens, The EX, Gerry Hemingway, Akio Suzuki, Polwechsel, Gino Robair, Rhodri Davies, Fred Frith, Okkyung Lee, John Edwards, Keiji Haino, Paul Lovens, Eddie Prevost, Mark Sanders, Butch Morris, Christian Marclay, Otomo Yoshihide, Matthew Shipp, Phil Minton, and Andy Moor - to name a few.
He is well known as a solo performer who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of place. Resonant Spaces is a collection of site-specific performances collected during a tour of unusual locations in Scotland and the Orkney Islands. His first solo album, Thirteen Friendly Numbers, includes compositions for multi- tracked saxophones, whilst later solo CDs focus on live performance, composition, amplification and saxophone-controlled feedback.
HCMF has twice commissioned him to compose for his own large ensembles. Other commissions include for Elision, the Rova & Quasar Saxophone Quartets, reconstructed Futurist Intonarumori, "Tarab Cuts" (based on pre-WWII Arabic recordings, and shortlisted for the 2014 British Composer's Award), "Good Liquor .." for the London Sinfonietta and "Fixations and the Open Road" for CEPRO. In 2011 he received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists.
Recent groupings include The Apophonics (+Gino Robair/John Edwards), Thermal (+Andy Moore/Thomas Lehn), Vellum (+Tony Buck/Magda Mayas) and trios with Okkyung Lee/Mark Sanders and Matt Shipp/Thomas Lehn.