Five years after the critically acclaimed independent release, Golden Boy, Reuben Butchart steps it up a notch by releasing an art song cycle based on the poetry of John William Carroll entitled Nameless and Awake. The project was recorded while his artist residency at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center in New York. Within his instrumental arrangements, Reuben has the ability to evoke Stevie Wonder’s perchant for melodic surprises and these surprises result in hooks that bring you back regardless of your initial relationship with the words. This is only to say that listeners unfamiliar with Carroll’s poetry may find them a secondary layer of discovery in relationship to the album and joyous in their own right. The best way to experience both at the same time is with the limited edition 32-page book featuring the poetry and a disc of the music. About the poetry, Mr. Carroll is a retired professor of classics, theater, and creative writing. He first gained national recognition in the 1970’s for directing members of his commune in Classic Greek, Shakespearean, and his own original plays.
The addition of the multi-instrumentalists supporting Butchart (referred to as the Millworkers) provide a breadth of composition that features even more of a sonic treat in that the musicians were trusted to find their outlet, or path, for their instrument in each of the songs’ arrangements. So you’re hearing mellotron, glass instruments, various flutes and stringed instruments along with the rhythm section provided by long-time Butchart bandmates, John Bollinger and Jason DiMatteo. The result of this collaboration of sounds under Butchart’s direction makes Nameless And Awake a very satisfying production of rich chamber pop music.