Australian guitarist Cam Butler (Coralinas, Silver Ray) has always had a soft spot for strings. Dark Times (Symphony No. 2) was heavy on orchestral elements, but also contained a huge helping of atmospheric post-rock. The direct follow-up, Save My Soul (Symphony No. 3) enlists the aid of a 23-piece orchestra, shoots for the stratosphere, and makes it into orbit. The album will eventually yield a multi-media tour, thanks to the contributions of five video artists, who are working on accompaniment for each track.
Solid, soaring, and occasionally sentimental, Save My Soul sounds like a soundtrack; yet because it is not required to repeat major themes, it comes across as something even better. The album bursts with the yearning of a desert traveler yearning for an oasis. Bent in supplication, he prays, save my soul. One can imagine him stumbling in a spiritual desert as well, his cracked water pouch tumbling from his hands as he seeks living water to take its place. The album is being released during the heart of Lent, a holy time during which pilgrims give something up – a hardness of attitude, an unwillingness to listen, a tautness of emotion. This album would make a fitting accompaniment to such a journey: chastened, but not sad; lonely, but not alone.
The album begins with a burst of sound: guitar, strings and drums crashing in all at once. But after only thirty seconds, a moment of silence arrives, a way to alert listeners that the album will progress at its own pace, sometimes straightforward, sometimes angular, and always ready to pause. Such pauses, the breaks between minor movements, operate as changes of scenery or transitions in mood. The classical compositional technique is vastly different from verse-chorus-verse, and is sweetly executed here. None of the five pieces are inaccessible; they just take a while to get to know. This intelligent craftsmanship is evident throughout the album. At first, one attempts to comprehend its many thematic elements; as one begins to grasp them, one begins to anticipate them with gladness: the three-note blast at 3:48 of “I Was Lost”, the first “big notes” of “Some Kind of Peace”, beginning at 2:11. This closing piece is a culmination of all that has preceded it, marked by confident drums and courageous shifts of tone. The final shift at 7:02 is accompanied by the oddest of sound effects: a guitar that sounds like a theremin. As the album begins its final descent, the soul begins its ascent, leaving the desert and moving into the green. (Richard Allen)
Release date: March 26
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