Like a white knight marauding down the mountain, Reading crate-digger, Charlie Butler, made some entrance late last year, starting with Darmok.
Inspired by Star Trek, Darmok was a fizzy slab of gorgeous noise, exploding into some sort of airborne splendour. So good, it made our Top 50 Albums of 2021.
Butler wears many hats, also a part of Cody Noon, Mothertrucker, Head Drop and Chaos Emeralds. Where the latter project is concerned, shortly after the release of Darmok, Butler released Crawling from the Wreckage; a metal gaze-inspired journey that picks up the slack from Justin Broadrick’s Jesu project.
It completed a barnstorming end to 2021 for Butler and continuing the momentum, he releases Deep Space: his first album of 2022 and first solo outing for Newcastle label, Cruel Nature Records.
Opener, Julian, takes its cue from the early origins of post-rock, as Butler blends the countrified shrapnel of Earth with the rip-and-tear noise of early Mogwai.
Elim, one of two cuts over the 14 minute mark, delves into the dark wells Godspeed You! Black Emperor explored during Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! Here, however, Butler conjures up something more hopeful, with a cinematic vibe unfurling like a winter mist.
Butler shows his darker side in the way of Bashir. Here, he doesn’t so much as take on the likes of Broadrick’s militia of metal gazers but joins it in somewhat of a re-tooling exercise. While the tones are heavier with drones reaching the mind’s edge, Butler still extracts something more hopeful from the depths of despair.
Which leads into the final composition, Garak. A contemplative cut that glitters with grandeur, this final piece evokes the same emotions as Fennesz’s primary cut, Glide. It’s sheer warmth, like the sun’s reflection off the ocean.
Evidently an avid record collector, Butler wears his influences on his sleeve, but on Deep Space, the Reading artist injects new sensibilities into post-rock. Carving out slow build-ups and rich, multidimensional textures, it’s music to watch the sunrise to.
Post-rock by numbers, this is not. Butler produces the kind of sound waves that are more thought out than the formulaic tropes that have slowly picked apart the seams of the patchwork once weaved from its forbearers.
Butler is always working on something, with more new music on horizon, no doubt. For now, though, he’s nailed it with Deep Space.
Deep Space is out Friday via Cruel Nature Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.