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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, 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 CD, and a collaborative CD 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)
  • Industrial Strength (Leo 113, 1983)
  • Barbed Wire Maggots (Agaric, 1983)
  • Borbeto Jam (Cadence, 1985)
  • Bells Together (Agaric, 1985)
  • Zurich (Agaric, 1984)
  • New York Performances (Agaric, 1986)
  • Live in Allentown (LowLife, 1986)
  • Seven Reasons For Tears (Purge 027, 1987)
  • Fish That Sparkling Bubble (Agaric, 1987) with Voice Crack
  • Barefoot in the Head (Forced Exposure, 1990) with Thurston Moore and liner notes purportedly by Thomas Pynchon
  • Snuff Jazz (Agaric, 1990)
  • Asbestos Shake (Agaric, 1991) with Voice Crack
  • Buncha Hair That Long (Agaric, 1992)
  • Coelacanth (Agaric, 1992) with Shaking Ray Levis
  • Experience the Magic (Agaric, 1993)
  • L'Atlas Des Galaxies Etranges (Non Mi Piace, 1993)
  • Live in Tokyo (Alchemy, 1997)
  • Songs Our Mother Taught Us (Agaric, 2003)
  • Both Noise Ends Burning (Les Disques Victo, 2007) with Hijokaidan
  • À Go Go (Agaric, 2009)
  • Vole Lotta Love (Tyyfus/Verdura, 2013)


External links[edit]