Thermal began as a trio in 2001.
Taking the sonic possibilities of their respective instruments (electric guitar, tenor and soprano saxophones and EMS synthesizer) through surprising and playful avenues, this is an exquisite example of the meeting of three experienced improvisers, each bringing to this exchange the perspective of their mixed musical backrounds.
The trio of John Butcher, Andy Moor and Thomas Lehn have played concerts all over Europe at major jazz and improvisation festivals and released their debut CD Thermal on the Unsounds label in 2003 which was selected by the Wire as one of the best Cds of that year.
listen to the CD Thermal on bandcamp
watch live video in St. Johann/Austria
watch live video in Prague
watch live video in Forli/Italy
visit Thermal on John Butcher's website
homepage John Butcher
wikipedia page Andy Moor
Thermal meshes horizons and welds disparate trajectories. It’s a highly persuasive point of access to the work of all three musicians. … One of the most thrilling improv outings released this year so far.
Julian Cowley, The Wire
… it looks like the trio was created by a computer, such is the perfect disposition of sounds, minds and absolute respect for one another… Andy Moor has his strings going from a rusty scrape to an ethereal drone of adjacent tones, while Lehn gets incredibly various manifestations from his analogue EMS synthesizer, resulting maybe in the most creative synthetist in recent and not so recent years; Thomas literally puts to shame the ones who use Oberheims and Wavestations for a single low note… . But something must be said for many sax players, because after they'll experience John Butcher's talent, his multiphonic control, his dynamics domination, the beauty of his 'regular' (??) tone – well, they won't be missed when they'll finally put their instrument away, together with their dusty Real Books.
Massimo Ricci | Touching Extremes
Saxophonist John Butcher is often frustratingly associated with the so-called micro-improv end of the spectrum, but there's nothing he likes nor does better than getting caught up in a bout of hard blowing; he's just as adept at screeching upper registers as he is at squeezing out delicate multiphonics, and this outing on guitarist Andy Moor's label Unsounds gives him plenty of opportunity to do both. Moor, who started out in Dog Faced Hermans before joining Dutch punk group The Ex nine years ago and relocating to Amsterdam, reveals himself as an improv guitarist to watch; his background in rock means he has no qualms about laying down the odd motoric riff ("Once Gravity Strikes For Real"), coming at the instrument from a different angle from the "usual" post-jazz techniques of Messrs Bailey, Russell et al. Thomas Lehn is in his element, conjuring forth a veritable electrical storm of blurts, zaps and fizzes from his analogue synthesizer, and giving it a good pounding to boot (dig the spring reverb), but "Thermal" is no mere brutal slugfest - far from it - behind the grit and the sweat there's a cunning sense of complicity and cogent sense of structure. A trio of tiny tracks ("Miss Universal Happiness", "Weak Alarm" and "Tongue") reveal that the trio is perfectly able to handle small forms too. Only complaint: the cover photo, which I imagine is supposed to represent a cloud, or a puff of smoke (but in fact somewhat resembles a map of France) - surely not the appropriate image for music as strong and sinewy as this.
CD review by Dan Warburton | Paris Transatlantic
… While the local improv snobs muttered tetchily at the bar - yes, dangerous music like this is far removed from the ideological purity favoured by several locals - the group lurched forward, frequently ending up in some pretty wild territory (especially for Butcher, who seemed nevertheless to be enjoying his experiments with howling feedback), but always managed to step back from the edge of all-out Borbetomagus madness. Ex guitarist Moor was quite restrained by his standards, but Lehn was in his element, his synth crackling merrily away, spitting out molten shards of metallic percussiveness. Not unsurprisingly perhaps, the overall result was less polished than the album, but in terms of sheer risk - the trio managed to box themselves into some scary corners on a number of occasions, and had to come out fighting - it certainly made a welcome change from the rather predictable fare sometimes dished up here, where gigs are so thin on the ground that improvising musicians are compelled to club together into a kind of mutual admiration society, rarely if ever doing anything that's likely to capsize the boat.
concert review by Dan Warburton | Paris Transatlantic
photo © Andy Moor
updated on January 26, 2022