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This article is about the musical group. For the Celtic city, see Worms, Germany.
Don Dietrich & Jim Sauter12.jpg
Don Dietrich and Jim Sauter
Background information
Genres Free jazz, noise rock
Years active 1979—present
Labels Agaric
Associated acts Voice Crack, Tristan Honsinger, Peter Kowald, Hijokaidan
Members Don Dietrich
Donald Miller
Jim Sauter
Past members Adam Nodelman

Borbetomagus are a free improvisation/noise music group. They are cited by critics[1] as pioneers of aggressive improvised noise music.


Borbetomagus formed in 1979 when saxophone players Jim Sauter and Don Dietrich joined with electric guitarist Donald Miller. Bass guitarist Adam Nodelman was briefly a member, and they have occasionally collaborated with others.

Their aggressive music has been described as "a huge, overpowering, take-no-prisoners mass of sound."[2] One extended technique they use is called "bells together" where Sauter and Dietrich place the bells (openings) of their saxophones against one other while playing.

While the core trio listed above has been responsible for most of Borbetomagus's music, they have collaborated with Swiss circuit bending duo Voice Crack, Dutch cellist Tristan Honsinger, German double-bassist Peter Kowald, multi-instrumentalist Milo Fine, and others. In 2006, they recorded a collaborative album with Hijokaidan live at the Festival de Musique Actuelle in Victoriaville, Canada, and in 2007 their long out-of-print cassette Live In Allentown was released on CD with nearly twice as much material as the original. Sauter and Dietrich have also recorded a duo album and a collaborative album with Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore.


Borbetomagus refers to the Celtic origin of the German city of Worms.


Jim Sauter performing at Palisades

They are considered widely influential on the Japanese noise music scene, as demonstrated by the re-release of their limited Live At Inroads cassette on CD by the Japanese label P.S.F. Records, as well as having a CD released by Osaka-based noise label Alchemy Records.

They have been influential on many American rock, free jazz, and noise musicians, such as Sonic Youth, Pelt, Thomas Ankersmit, and Kevin Drumm. Miller has worked with Pelt; he now resides in New Orleans, where he frequently collaborates live with Rob Cambre and others on E-Bowed guitars.


  • Borbetomagus (Agaric 1980)
  • Work On What Has Been Spoiled (Agaric 1981)
  • Borbetomagus (Agaric 1982)
  • Live at InRoads (Sound Cluster 1982, Cause And Effect, P.S.F PSFD-19 1993)
  • Industrial Strength (Leo LR113 1983)
  • Barbed Wire Maggots (Agaric 1983)
  • Borbeto Jam (Cadence CJR 1026)
  • Zurich (Agaric 1984)
  • Bells Together (Agaric 1985)
  • New York Performances (Agaric 1986)
  • Live in Allentown (LowLife LL02 1986, Agaric 1998)
  • Seven Reasons For Tears (Purge Sound League 027, Agaric 1993)
  • Fish That Sparkling Bubble (Agaric 1987 / Uhlang Produktion UP 06) with Voice Crack
  • Snuff Jazz (Agaric 1988, 1996)
  • Barefoot in the Head (Forced Exposure 1990) with Thurston Moore and liner notes purportedly by Thomas Pynchon
  • Asbestos Shake (Agaric 1989, Uhlang Produktion UP 08, V-Records V2) with Voice Crack
  • Buncha Hair That Long (Agaric 1990)
  • Coelacanth (Agaric 1991) with Shaking Ray Levis
  • Experience the Magic (Agaric 1992)
  • L'Atlas Des Galaxies Etranges (Non Mi Piace NMPR 01 OK, 1993)
  • Live in Tokyo (Alchemy ARCD-095)
  • Songs Our Mother Taught Us (Agaric 1995)
  • Both Noise Ends Burning (Les Disques Victo 2007) with Hijokaidan
  • Borbetomagus à Go Go (Agaric 1997)
  • Trente belles années (Agaric 1998)
  • The Rape of Atlanta (Not on label 2010)
  • Vole Lotta Love (Tyyfus/Verdura 2013)


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