Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: Cam Butler - "See (Symphony No.1)" (Pharmacy Records)

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cam Butler - "See (Symphony No.1)" (Pharmacy Records)

Cam Butler is the guitarist for acclaimed Australian 3-piece Silver Ray, a touring favourite of Nick Cave. For "See (Symphony No.1)", his 3rd solo outing, Butler has handpicked no fewer than 14 gifted musicians to form his Shadows of Love Orchestra. Each element of the orchestra, be it the strings, guitars, percussion or computer loops, impacts pefectly with Butler's assured guitar work, helping him to realise his dramatic, cinematic vision.

Following on from the likes of The Cinematic Orchestra and The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, "See (Symphony No.1)" is a grandiose statement full of possibilities that is just begging to picked up for a major Hollywood blockbuster. Over the course of its 6 tracks, the album conveys just about every emotion possible in the movie world.

"Does Your River Run Deep?" comes across as if it was the opening titles to Robert Ludlum's Bourne series. There's a real mysterious quality to its epic string arrangement which is accompanied by frenzied guitar work. Its provides a thrilling opening to this album.

"Southern Ocean" follows bringing things down a notch or two with gorgeous strings, mournful guitar work and foreboding percussion. It runs like an updated version of "House of the Rising Sun", building purposefully and becoming increasingly textured with each passing second. It all subsides with a magnificent symphonic eruption towards the end.

Further down the line, "Unlock My Door's" combination of bluesy guitar and flamboyant violins evokes images of the barren trails around the dust bowl regions of the USA. There's a certain edge to this track, that had me pondering how great this would suit something like HBO's Deadwood.

"Exist" comes as a real shock, I was expecting another fast-paced epic adventure of a track. Instead, a tranquil ambient passage slides in. Once you get over the initial shock, though, this 10 minute piece starts to work its slowly-layered charms on you. Its textures and shimmering beauty give this track a certain weight, that has enough power to lull you into a deep coma.

Roots guitar acts as a wake-up call on the introduction of next track "Can't Play The Game". This is the song that propels "See.." from a great album into a truly exceptional piece of work. Witness the majestic orchestral waves at around the 3 minute mark, that could have been lifted from any number of blockbuster films, such is its dramatic nature. The climax of strings, percussion, vocal chants and guitars can only be described as spellbinding.

The final track "See" has a lot to live up to after "Can't Play.." and Butler tries valiantly to match it. This 13 minute track doesn't quite reach the same lofty heights (not many tracks would), but the funereal strings towards the end provide a real poignant moment.

All in all, "See (Symphony No.1)" is a near masterpiece, engaging throughout and polished with a real Hollywood sheen. The string arrangements seem to take most of the lead parts and are backed up with an army of guitars and percussion work straight out of the blues and classic rock handbooks. Such an approach catapults these songs into the upper echelons of cinema music. It will only be a matter of time before one of those big-time producers will be calling on Cam Butler's door. His cinematic punk music is destined to be soundtracking one of those Marvel Comics blockbusters anytime soon.

Rating - 87%


"Exist" mp3 (excerpt) - Cam Butler
"Does Your River Run Deep?" mp3 (exceprt) - Cam Butler

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