- Butterz had a stunning debut year in 2010, creating and riding a wave of new interest in grime—particularly instrumental grime—perfectly timed with the resurrection (or rather, rediscovery) of grime kingpin Terror Danjah. The label has established an already recognizable brand of synth music made of bright, primary colours, tunes that place as much of an emphasis on songwriting and playful jocularity as they do on club-ready beats.
Their first release of 2011 is the first full-fledged Butterz release for Royal-T, the young London producer of "1UP" fame. The 2009 track was grime at its most dramatic and humourous, mixing faux-orchestral pomp with video game sound effects. It's a chiptune aesthetic that Butterz has taken to heart, with many of their signature producers (Swindle, SRC, Mr. Mitch) building tunes out of the resonant and chirpy synths. Like most of the label's prominent A-sides, "Orangeade" gets its own silly video, and the quaint and homespun inanity of the depicted scenes perfectly matches its tinny grandiosity and irreverent nature.
At its core, "Orangeade" is an incredibly simple (but effective) tune based around a whining two-note progression that stutters and chatters around the bend, creating an unforgettable melody out of basic oscillation. The whole thing is buffeted by a few handclaps and sometimes even a stray hi-hat, as if Mr. T is afraid that if he fully completes the tune it's going to get up and walk away out of his hands. It's only when a piano seemingly falls over onto the track at the end—muffling its bratty synth—that you realize you've been listening to the same two notes over and over again for a whole three minutes. Dance music at its best and purest.
The tracks on the b-side have a hard time living up to the head-rush heights of "Orangeade," but they're just as fascinating and almost as infectious. The "Devil Mix" of "Music Please" takes the structural minimalism of "Orangeade" to a challenging new extreme, as it lacks a bassline—outside of a few grumbling synth notes—and a kick drum. Dissonant chords, dinky rimshots and those same poor, wandering hi-hats dance around hesitantly, carefully avoiding all the spots where the kick would go; it's a disorienting bit of trickery that transforms the sampled refrain of "music please!" from gruff bravado to just plain pleading.
On the contrary, the bouncy exuberance of "The Whistle Song" seems to burst out of the withered skin of its exhausted predecessor, nicely wearing Royal-T's vaunted garage influence on his orange-stained sleeve. In truth, it's somewhere between old-school eski, UK funky, and garage, but it's all Royal-T as a whistling refrain tumbles down jagged steps and a gurgling bass synth coughs up monotonous melodies. Monotony can be good, and as Royal-T strips his sound down to the basics he proves himself almost as adept as a primitive pop auteur as he is grime producer. And that's really what Butterz is all about: pop and circumstance, no pomp necessary.
B1 The Whistle Song
B2 Music Please (Devil Mix)