If the name Chris Butler sounds familiar, it's likely because you still listen to your Waitresses' records. As guitarist/songwriter for that band, Butler claimed a place in the annals of New Wave as a creative, offbeat artist responsible for tunes such as "I Know What Boys Like" and "Christmas Wrapping".

Butler has continued his career producing other artists ranging from Joan Osborne to Charlie Chesterman, as well as recording his own projects. Recently, Chris finished "The Devil Glitch", a 68 minute-long song which holds the current Guinness World Record for "Longest Pop Song". Consequently, it's not surprising that Butler has released "The Wilderness Years" 7-inch series, a project that reveals his passion for antiques. In the notes to Volume 1, we discover that "A Hole In the Sky" and "Davey's Sister's Home From College" were "recorded without electricity or microphones on 100-year-old wax cylinders using a hand-cranked Edison 'Spring Motor' phonograph circa 1898." While listening to the record you can study the sleeve photo of the machine and consider that the scratchy, old-time sound is genuine rather than affected. It's interesting to note that playback had to be hand-cranked as well.  The format for Volume 3 was "a Webster-Chicago 180-1 wire recorder (c.1946-49) using World War II Navy surplus stainless steel wire, Type W-174 consumer wire and period crystal microphones." Behind Butler's vocal and slide guitar of "The Bottom of a Workingman's Beer", he leaves in "half-erased shadow talk...[that] dates from the Korean War, when a Northeastern Ohio family sat down at a kitchen table to play cards on a Saturday night...and someone pushed 'record.'" These records are incredible documents created lovingly by a master tinker. The songs themselves can be described as acoustic, minimalist, avant-blues rock. Chris's obvious songwriting skills have matured and continue to tickle the ear. "The Wilderness Years" series is a case in which you'd expect the method to overshadow the content, but thankfully this doesn't occur. Consider lyrics like "and there's a jar of purple eggs on the bar/oh, I begs to be so embalmed" and I think you'll agree. Chris Butler's next project is an entire album of songs performed only by musicians named "Chris Butler". This guy knows how to entertain himself as well as others.

(Future Fossil, PO Box 6248, Hoboken, NJ 07030)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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