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Don Dietrich and Jim Sauter
Don Dietrich and Jim Sauter
Background information
GenresFree jazz, noise rock
Years active1979—present
MembersDon Dietrich
Donald Miller
Jim Sauter
Past membersAdam Nodelman

Borbetomagus are a free jazz/noise rock 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. Sauter and Deitrich were fans of and frequent callers to Miller's radio show on WKCR (Columbia University) which lead to them collaborating.[2] 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."[3] 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, the band Fat on their album Hit, and others. In 2006, they recorded a collaborative album with Hijokaidan live at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de 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.



  1. ^
  2. ^ OPtion, May/June 1985 pg. 39
  3. ^ Archived April 9, 2004, at the Wayback Machine

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