“Carousel sticks to a simple equation, then spends the album’s entirety providing different facets of those components. Pulsing cadences and languorous drones, and the beauty of this album is the way in which Butler shifts into one before backsliding back to the other.
“Album opener “Bowtie” opens strong with with a quick step rhythm, bolstered by the looping of key clicks and curt sax phrases, and he builds that tempo up with an increasingly textured palette as a precursor to the low moan of the finale.
“The title-track also begins similarly to “Bowtie,” but drops a linear approach for one that moves in tight circles. There is a palpable sense of dance to this song’s motion, even if only implied. That motion continues, but is juxtaposed against sonic washes of melodic drones that, eventually, saturate the entire song. The rhythmic element makes an appearance as the song reaches its conclusion, but it serves more as echo than counteraction of the low comforting murmur of sax.
“Two Clarinets” has both elements starting right out of the gate. Long slow soulful saxophone notes intermingle with patient bursts of notes looped through the eye of the melodic needle. No different than “Rose and Ice,” a nifty melody crosshatched with a lumbering cadence. It has a mournful presence, but emits warmth, not sorrow.
“Drum Solo” behaves like a Tom Waits performance, with its sly cadence and cool nonchalance with structure, and the added space-age sound effects and hammer clicks take it even further out to the fringes. And where “Drum Solo” leaned far heavier to the percussive element of this recording, album finale “Stasis” swings to the other extreme. A return to an atmospheric drift, of saxophone hovering just out of reach, a repetitive sigh atop a low pitched drone, and the echo of both in reply. And if “Drum Solo” is akin to Tom Waits, “Stasis” ranges far closer to the ambient excursions of Brain Eno’s Music for Airports.
“A mesmerizing album with a live wire kick.
“Butler makes full use of looping, electronics and effects without any type of studio manipulation… the kind of thing that can be performed live before an audience as it can in a studio setting. The next album I’m spotlighting forgoes the effects, but adds an additional instrument to the mix… all the while, still, like Butler, offering up a performance that avoids any use of sampling or overdubbing, and gets recorded in real-time, no different than a live performance.”
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