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A Magazine for Sheffield

Butterfly House

Paul Littlewood has recorded an EP that flutters in and out of the subconscious. Butterfly House won't bring the place down with an earthshattering guitar riff or a foot-stomping groove. It will, however, ease its way into the listener's psyche. His music is reminiscent of Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock by Talk Talk in its use of repeated guitar patterns, subtle ambient textures and raw vocals. This is best heard late into the small hours or through headphones for greatest effect. Short pauses in sound become just as important for enhancing emotion.

Butterfly House is very much a solo venture, with one or two guitars accompanying Paul's voice. It utilises few studio effects and has little production wizardry. There are fleeting moments of electronic glitches or faint passages of guitar feedback, namely on 'Blindfold' and 'Citadel', but he has layered these sounds carefully so as not to detract from the recording. The sparse use of effects is evocative and otherworldly in its execution.

The EP opens with 'State Of Mind'. A faint guitar line slowly increases in volume before melding with a skittery percussive pattern. Paul's haunting vocals then emerge, supported by a deep bass. His voice sounds fragile, like he is almost on the verge of breaking into tears. On the final track, 'Falling Rocks', he utters the lyrics in a hushed tone before gently whining. Words seem to become redundant in conveying the exact emotion. This dynamic gives the record an edge that prevents it from being overly melodramatic.

It may well be sombre and cerebral, but this doesn't mean that it is mere background music. There is an air of unease that fluctuates throughout each composition, as expressed with the line: 'Lost at sea / it ain't easy,' from 'Daylight'. Paul Littlewood confronts human sadness in an unassuming manner and allows the listener time to absorb its meaning. Some of the songs can meander. The performance is continually heightened, but it soon fades before reaching its final destination. This is a problem because the audience never gets a sense of overall release after the successive build-up, but what Paul Littlewood has achieved is making poignant and ethereal blues music.