BRIAN BUTTS: Organic Soundscapes

Concentricity

Illinois-based songwriter Brian Butts has added another great released to his catalogue. The newest addition is titled “Concentricity,” and about the album Brian tells us in a new interview.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your new release “Concentricity.”.

My pieces generally start by composing a “skeleton” on the guitar – typically a series of chord changes, melodic ideas, “riffs,” or theoretical concepts. As I feel I’ve developed a decent framework with a single guitar, I will practice it repetitiously until I feel it is ready to be recorded. As I am recording and immersing myself in the idea, I begin to hear other melodies, harmonies, and instrumentation that would fit well within the structure. I will play and record these elements to what amounts to be about 10 – 12 parts typically on a relatively simple recording setup.

If I am fortunate, I will have a guest contribute a part on their instrument – which I have the honor of mixing into the master.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Though I know how to read and write music, my compositional process orbits playing the guitar. I play the instrument, then I record. I do not keep staff paper when composing these heavy metal albums. My bass playing, keyboard / synth parts, and drums are usually supplementary to the guitar parts, which may have upwards of 6 guitar parts per track.

I admire classical and contemporary composers, but I lack the patience to articulate multitudes of instruments in an organic soundscape. I love the electric guitar. These short metal tracks are a “quick fix,” a soundwall blast for someone who may lack the ability to witness live performances regularly but needs the decibel high.

Brian Butts

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

I will say that I pay great heed to compositional form, and look for it when listening to music, however other dynamics such as loud / soft and tempo modulations are usually lacking in my pieces. Most of my pieces are a volume peak from start to finish. Loud.

A lot of this has to do with doing most of the parts by myself. It is too difficult and time consuming to arrange complex solis, complicated rhythmic breakdowns, meter changes, and dynamic automations for a piece that most people may only listen to once, and can be expressed in a few minutes with simpler ideas. It is condensed so I can remember when I switch from one part or instrument to the next during recording with few mistakes.

My music can indeed be complex, but for other reasons.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

Anyone can record a decent quality mix with very simple gear on a low budget. All you need is your instrument, the electromagnet (microphone or pickup), and a recording apparatus. Anything else is just bells and whistles. I record all my parts on an external unit, then load into a DAW where I make final edits and do mastering. It’s all very simple VST plugins that you could easily find for free. I tell my friends that as long as you have a compressor and an equalizer, you can make commercial quality productions with next to zero budget. Anyone can pursue their musical ideas in this day and age. So why not?

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Too many to list…

What is your view on technology in music?

Necessary. Machines create instruments more efficiently, innovations deliver better gear, and computer programmers brilliantly develop more efficient DAWS. Less waste is created. Light shows for performances are enhanced. Better sound designs with better sound boards. Accessibility for more people (think of those handicapped who once played an instrument beautifully, but were crippled through injury or illness, and can now compose digitally). Technology helps the ability to reach and share with a broader audience. It allows higher quality preservation of recordings. Re-engineered antiques are brought back to life with enhancements (though so easy to love the vintage texture of old recordings and preserved for its own sake).

But never forget the classical conservatory disciplines in the evolution of technology.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

If someone finds my music and connects with it in some positive way… I am happy. For myself, personally, it has always been my escape from the unsavory aspects of reality.

What are your plans for the future?

Like everyone, we just try our best with what we have available. We all have our limitations and our fears, but we have our hopes and dreams, also.

Concentricity is out now; get it from Bandcamp.

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