In fact, it’s pitched down vocals that are the most immediate thing about Butane’s debut album Becoming. They feature on four out of seven tracks: ‘Collapse’, ‘A Rave Mistake’, ‘From the Beginning’ and ‘Reflection’. That means the album is facing an uphill battle. After a string of pitched down vocal tracks culminating in the Minus self-parody at the end of last year with Marc Houle’s 'Techno Vocal', whatever the merits of this kind of effect, Becoming is now indelibly time-stamped with a 2007 use-by date. Though both of the particularly vocal heavy tracks ‘From the Beginning’ or ‘Reflection’ are fairly strong productions, the cheesy lyrics ‘We know what we don’t know (unintelligible)‘ and ‘Why is this song so painful’ respectively, that dominate become too much; the rhythmic subtleties are smothered. In ‘Collapse’ the vocals are better balanced with the irregular percussion.
But there’s more to the record than just the vocals. The album sounds sharp and lush. Each note and effect has clarity and depth that become more apparent when heard loud. It can be scary, dark and powerful. ‘A Rave Mistake [remix]’, with its tight groove and deep, brassy modulated drones is intoxicating, as is the deep bass and filtered percussion of ‘Wanderer’.
And the next most immediate thing about Becoming is its un-albumness. As a cohesive whole it just doesn’t work; it lacks a core, a reason to listen from beginning to end, and those vocals just get annoying. But it functions well as a collection of DJ friendly tracks, designed for selections rather than wholesale consumption. And it’s no surprise Butane is intent on, and good at, producing DJ tools – his best selling productions are in fact just that – a track called Loop B4 and one called Loop B3. Both are atmospheric, propulsive, and better in the club (or in a mix) than elsewhere for most. As is Becoming.