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Brian Butler - 2008 - "Axuality Vol. 1"

(68:47, 'Brian Butler')


**+
                 

TRACK LIST:                                 

1.  This Dance is Tricky 3:04
2.  His Very Favorite Blue 3:20
3.  I'm No Father 2:55
4.  I Love You 1:38
5.  Taking the Telegraph 3:04
6.  Cool Rhythm 3:01
7.  Emmalene 3:12
8.  Cowboy and Soaring Eagle 3:20
9.  Pretty Carmena Rainbow 3:16
10. The Man with the Slow Beat Plow 2:00
11. Girl on a Rubber Band 2:32
12. For You 3:42
13. Rejoice 2:53 
14. A Long Tuesday from Friday 2:53
15. Rhythm n' Skips a Boy 3:02
16. Tough Luck 2:41
17. Longarm Lullaby 3:42
18. Mooda View 4:38
19. Dance the Walltop 3:02
20. Mood of Blue Shade 3:32
21. Cry Baby 3:20
22. February 9+1 4:00

SOLO-PILOT:

Brian Butler - all instruments

Prolusion. Brian BUTLER is a guitarist based in Minneapolis, USA, and “Axuality Volume I” is his debut album. He uses the term Axuality to describe the music he makes, and defines it in this way: "Axuality is a style of improvised clean rock guitar music, using more sophisticated timings and rhythms than rock usually does. It has an agenda-free quality which encourages your thinking to rise to the level of how smart you really are.”

Analysis. Pretentious goals put aside, Brian Butler has some things going for him. He is not an unskilled guitar player, especially considering that improvisation is at the heart of all the 22 compositions presented on this album. All the tunes here are basically built up in the same way. The songs have their basis in a segment made up of mostly mellow, melodic guitar licks. These segments (or themes if you like) are set as the foundation for the tune. In most cases layered guitars are added, often with melodic soloing or lighter melodic licks added on top, and most times with slick licks underscoring the preceding – these set in much deeper tones. Variations of this are played out from the start till the end of each tune, sometimes with vocal parts added but most often in a purely instrumental landscape. Butler provides the description "improvisational rock-jazz guitar" on the cover of this CD. And although there are tendencies towards both jazz and rock on this album, I'm just as often reminded of pop and country when listening to these tunes. This is mellow, slick and melodic stuff; without any of the grit I expect when listening to music defined as rock. I'm also slightly uneasy in calling the improvisations here songs as such. As I interpret the 22 pieces here, these are first and foremost explorations of specific moods and atmospheres, where melodic segments are repeated, with variation added to the elements supporting the theme rather than altering the theme itself. The songs rarely seem to have a specific aim, and there's hardly any evolution either. It's a set piece of emotion explored by multiple repetitions. And although there are variations in tempo, structure and sound in the individual improvisations here, the 22 tunes still sound very similar to each other. Not many have a strong identity of their own; whatever identity is to be found here resides in the sounds explored on the album as a whole and in the manner these are explored. The above elements add up to a disappointing release. The guitar licks are good, the music is pleasant, but there's too much repetition, resulting in pieces getting tedious even if short. With a very similar sound throughout making it hard to remember each individual tune even after extended listening, my personal impression of this being a weak release overall is strengthened. Basically, this is more muzak than music to my ears.

Conclusion. Brian Butler is good at finding catchy guitar licks on the mellow side of the musical border, but doesn't quite know what to do with them. Fans of details in mellow guitar-dominated music who care more for the small details they can discover rather than the compositions as a whole, should get some joy out of this one. People looking for relaxing stuff to play as background music should get even more pleasure out of this CD. Anyone else should check this one further before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.

OMB: July 1, 2008
The Rating Room


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