> Charlie Butler – Wild Fictions (album review) - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Charlie Butler – Wild Fictions (album review)

Lanarkshire-based Charlie Butler is an incredibly prolific artist (having already released more than twenty productions since 2020) and this short yet stubbornly authoritative new album, Wild Fictions, confirms his position as the only player in his lane.

This quartet of tracks is a winding and gripping journey into the dark, an unfaltering two-step to hell. The biblical undertones of this album are suggested in the opening track, ‘Twelve Apostles’, a lengthy but rewarding introduction – the stark opening beat steadily thickens itself with layer upon layer of atonal, droning, but strangely moving melodics.

It’s as if each fold of the refrain represents a single apostle joining its brothers as the track builds momentum over its nine-minute duration, culminating in a bleak, dissonant synth choir of overwhelming power. It’s a track that underscores the flavour of the entire album – perky synths and guitar motifs loop and multiply themselves, wrapped in the booming moans of some otherworldly, infernal bagpipe chanter. It leaves the listener feeling edgy, yet quietly thrilled, the hypnotic arrangements repeating ad infinitum until they somehow combine into a genuinely moving crescendo.

There is a melancholy and metallic density to these tracks, like watching some hulking battleship slowly slip beneath waves of dark chordal ambience. ‘Dark Fractions’, in which strings jangle and tremble above the ever-repeating refrains towards an unnervingly massive destination, tips the listener not towards anticlimax but genuine surprise. It’s an abstract, brutalist work which leads the listener towards disaster but never quite reaches it, ending not with bangs but with curiously tame whimpers.

While at times the repetition, both within and beyond each track, can begin to jar, it nevertheless achieves a genuine human response, a weird, bleak feeling of listening to a soundtrack for the end times. This is an album for the capitalist apocalypse: the steady march towards disaster is woven with the cries of the machine.

Wild Fictions is out now – Limited edition cassettes are available from Charlie Butler’s Bandcamp page, with 40 copies available worldwide

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