Thomas Lehn














 John Butcher • tenor & soprano saxophone
 Thomas Lehn • analogue synthesizer
© photo Urs Althaus & photomusix/Cristina Marx

  about | press | biographies | collaborations | tourdates 



Since first meeting in London in 1996 saxophonist John Butcher and analogue synthesizer player Thomas Lehn have collaborated in a remarkably wide range of projects.

These include the long standing trio Thermal, with guitarist Andy Moor from “The EX” and two groups with very distinctive pianists - John Tilbury (noted for his work with AMM, Cornelius Cardew, Morton Feldman a.o.) and US avant-jazz musician Matthew Shipp (David S. Ware, William Parker, Roscoe Mitchell).

During all this time they have continued to give duo concerts, valuing this format for exploring the intimate interactions possible within their acoustic and electronic worlds.


press reviews

This is a magical journey in sounds, ideas and textures. Butcher has developed his own profound method of playing the saxophones. He converses in his own individual syntax, still radiating a surprising playfulness and commanding elegance. Lehn’s highly inventive, often aggressive playing of the synthesizer introduces elements of danger and surprise and adds textual references to psychedelia, and sixties electronic experimentation.
– Salt Peanuts

Thomas Lehn has radically reclaimed the synthesizer for spontaneity. He runs tightropes between control and accident. His collaborators are liable to find themselves on untried ground, dependent upon sharp reflexes and tangential intuitions. Saxophonist John Butcher, tempered in the unorthodox, has the technical cunning and listening skills to meet the challenge Lehn poses.
– The Wire

“Butcher and Lehn are both committed improvisers, and each has worked determinedly against instrumental prescriptions. The former has used soprano and tenor saxes to manage sounds most commonly accessed with the use of electronics, and the latter has confined himself to older, analogue synths that respond to the human touch.”
– Magnet



John Butcher | Thomas Lehn  

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John Butcher 

Butcher is well known as a saxophonist who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of time and place. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and extreme acoustics. His Resonant Spaces CD is a collection of site-specific performances recorded during a tour of unusual locations in Scotland and the Orkney Islands.

Since the early 80s he has collaborated with hundreds of artists – including Derek Bailey, Eddie Prévost, Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Steve Beresford, Okkyung Lee, Andy Moor, Christian Marclay, Phil Minton, Rhodri Davies, Tony Buck, Magda Mayas and Matthew Shipp.

Additionally he values occasional encounters - from the WDR Sinfonieorchester and EX Orkest to duos with Akio Suzuki, Liz Allbee, Keiji Haino, David Toop, Sophie Agnel, Fred Frith and Joe McPhee. Recent compositions include Penny Wands for Futurist Intonarumori, three HCMF commissions, Good Liquor… for the London Sinfonietta and Tarab Cuts (shortlisted for a British Composer’s Award).

Extraordinarily powerful, Butcher’s saxophone may test the limits of one’s ear to make sense of the close and complex relationships that are put forth, but there’s an undeniable emotional depth and sheer beauty in his work that supersedes technicality and concept.
– Tiny Mix Tapes

John Butcher is without question the most jaw-dropping technician we’ve ever heard wielding a tenor, equally capable of brawny assault and textural meditations at the very edge of audibility. What makes him so compelling, though, is the taste and poetry behind everything he does.
– Time Out, New York

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Thomas Lehn

Thomas Lehn studied sound engineering and piano at the music academies in Detmold and Cologne. As a pianist in various ensembles - currently the ensemble]h[iatus - he has given numerous (premiere) performances of musical, music-theatrical and multimedia works.

Since 1989 he has been working in the field of live electronic music generated with analogue synthesizer systems.

In addition to his own electronic works realized in real time, he has also been active as a synthesizer interpreter for many years, including performances of compositions by Élaine Radigue, Bogusław Schaeffer, Zbigniew Karkowski, Anthony Pateras, Peter Jakober and Jürg Frey. His studio realizations of works by Schaeffer, Pateras, Jakober and Roman Haubenstock-Ramati have been released on CD.

International festival guest appearances and concert tours - as a soloist and as a member of a large number of internationally active ensembles - have taken him throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Japan and East Asia, as well as repeatedly to North America. His work is documented on around 100 recordings. 

Thomas Lehn's ancient analogue synthesizer is an honestly electronic sound source, but he plays it with pianistic animation, a responsive improviser in an ever-shifting, fluid and powerful music.
– Coda Magazine

Thomas Lehn´s synthesizer, built at an early age of the technology, and looking more like a physics device than a musical instrument, was able to bridge the contradiction between technology and nature. Indeed, there was something extremely natural about the sounds it produced.
– Weserkurier



Thermal | with Gino Robair | with Matthew Shipp | with John Tilbury  

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since 2003


John Butcher amplified tenor & soprano saxophone
Thomas Lehn • analogue synthesizer
Andy "Ex" Moor • electric guitar



released 2003 on dutch label unsounds | | 04U | reviews | bandcamp  

thermal_78u_cover_front  thermal_78u_cover_back 

Ice In A Hot World
released 2023 on dutch label unsounds | | 78U | reviews | bandcamp     

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since 2012


John Butcher • tenor & soprano saxphone
Gino Robair • percussion, electronics, Blipoo Box, objets trouvés
Thomas Lehn • analogue synthesizer 




shaped & chased
12" vinyl LP released 2019 on Ni-Vu-Ni-Connu | | nvnc-lp026 | bandcamp 

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since 2014


Matthew Shipp • piano
Thomas Lehnanalogue synthesizer
John Butchersoprano- & tenor saxophone


CD released 2016 on fataka | | fataka 14 | bandcamp

The Clawed Stone

CD released 2020 on Rogue Art | | ROG-0099  

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since 2016


John Butcher soprano- & tenor saxophone
Thomas Lehnanalogue synthesizer
John Tilburypiano



CD released 2013 on fataka | | fataka 7 | bandcamp  


CD released 2023 on fataka | | fataka 16 | bandcamp  


tour dates   

upcoming | past  

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Sat. January 18, Vitoria-Gasteiz @ El Conservatorio / Festival Bernaola Zikloa 

© by Ariele Monti and Irtijal

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past performances

Fri. June 9, London @ Cafe OTO (with Thermal)
Fri. March 31, Saarbruecken @ Gemeindezentrum Alte Kirche (with Thermal)
Thu. March 30, Stuttgart @ stromraum (with Thermal)
Wed. March 29, Koeln @ Stadtgarten/JAKI (with Thermal)

Sun. February 9, Bonn @ Dialograum Kreuzung an St. Helena (with Thermal)
Sat. February 8, Avignon @ AJMI (with Thermal)
Fri. February 7, Brussels @ Ancienne Belgique

Fri. July 5, 2019, Viitasaari @ Parish Hall / Time of Music Festival

Sun. October 29, Brugge @ Parazzar (with Matthew Shipp)
Sat. October 28, Fresnes-en-W. @ Festival Densites (with Matthew Shipp)
Tue. October 24, Oslo @ Cafe Mir (with Matthew Shipp)
Sun. October 22, Graz @ Stockwerk (with Matthew Shipp)
Sat. October 21, Ljubljana @ Gromka Club (with Matthew Shipp)
Fri. October 20, Cologne @ Stadtgarten (with Matthew Shipp)
Thu. October 19, Lille @ La Malterie (with Matthew Shipp)
Tue. October 17, Montreuil @ Instants Chavires (with Matthew Shipp)
Mon. September 18, Montreal @ Casa del Popolo (with Matthew Shipp)
Fri. September 15, Guelph @ Guelph Jazz Festival (with Matthew Shipp)
Sun. January 15, Forli @ Area Sisimica (with Thermal)
Fri. January 13, Huesca @ Centro Cultural del Matadero (with Thermal)
Thu. January 12, Barcelona @ L’auditori Sampler Series (with Thermal)

Sun. July 24, Nickelsdorf @ Jazzgallerie (with Matthew Shipp)
Thu. May 26, London @ Cafe Oto (with John Tilbury)
Sat. March 12, St. Johann i. T. @ Alte Gerberei (with Thermal)
Fri. March 11, Pardubice @ Divadlo 29 (with Thermal)
Thu. March 10, Prag @ Vila Stvanice (with Thermal)
Wed. March 9, Wien @ Porgy & Bess (with Thermal)

Wed. February 19, London @ Cafe Oto (with Matthew Shipp)

Sat. June 9, Chicago @ The Empty Bottle
Fri. June 8, St. Louis @ Kerr Foundation Center
Thu. June 7, Nashville @ Downtown Presbyterian Church
Wed. June 6, Asheville @ ARTery Gallery (with Gino Robair)
Tue. June 5, Chattanooga @ Barking Legs Theater (with Gino Robair)
Mon. June 4, Columbia @ Conundrum Music Hall (with Gino Robair)
Sun. June 3, Tuscaloosa @ Green Bar (with Gino Robair)
Sat. June 2, Shreveport @ minicine? (with Gino Robair)
Fri. June 1, Austin @ Carousel Lounge (with Gino Robair)
Thu. May 31, Houston @ Nameless Sound (with Gino Robair)
Wed. May 30, Houston @ Nameless Sound (with Gino Robair)
Tue. May 29, Houston @ Nameless Sound (with Gino Robair)

Sun. September 25, Boston @ Goethe Institut Boston
Wed. September 21, Philadelphia @ Bowerbird
Tue. September 20, Brooklyn @ Issue Project Room

Sat. November 17, Graz @ Stockwerk (with Thermal)
Fri. November 16, Innsbruck @ Bierstindl (with Thermal)

Sun. November 12, Wels @ Schlachthof (with Thermal)

Sat. August 27, Mulhouse @ Noumatrouff (with Thermal)

Sat. July 17, Parthenay @ Palais des Congres (with Thermal)
Thu. May 27, Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy @ Festival Musique Action (with Thermal)
Wed. May 19, Toronto @ Goethe Institute Toronto (with Thermal)

Sat. May 24, Montreuil @ Instants Chavires (with Thermal)
Fri. May 23, Nantes @ Pannonica (with Thermal)
Thu. May 22, Lille @ Le Malterie (with Thermal)
Wed. May 21, Bruessel @ Cafe Central (with Thermal)

Fri. November 16, Amsterdam @ STEIM (with Thermal)

Thu. July 13, Amsterdam @ Overtoom 301 (with Thermal)
Sun. April 9, Bruessel @ Recyclart / Gare Bruxelles-Chapelle (with Thermal)

Mon. December, 19, Cologne @ British Council [download flyer]
Sun. February 18, London @ Red Rose Theatre

© drawing by Geoffrey Winston, June 2023 at Cafe Oto London


updated on June 8, 2024