Jason Butler, the creative force behind Thee Conductor, has teamed up with an impressive selection of musicians for a structured and intentional, yet open and collaborative, art project resulting in a curated collection of songs titled Cotton Tornado. Set to be released on October 20th via Sixgunlover Records, the album was co-produced and engineered by Justin Douglas of King Electric Recording in Austin Texas.The first to be recorded under the name Thee Conductor this impressive debut is a swirl of orchestration with both amplified and acoustic instruments, catchy singing, and interesting rhythmic drum patterns.
All of the songs on Cotton Tornado were written by Butler, who has previously released records alongside Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Bill Dolan (5ive Style, Heroic Doses), and was co-writer for the Austin group Quien es, BOOM!. Rounding things out are important embellishments made by the vocal/creative perspectives of Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Kevin Shea, Jana Horn, A.Sinclair, Choctaw Wildfire, Michael Patrick St. Clair & many others. The opening track, “Face Crinkle,” is made of two separate drum patterns glued together by a simple acoustic guitar strum, which is then highlighted by the unmistakable voice of Bonnie “Prince” Billy. The title track, “Cotton Tornado,” is a sad ditty with hopeful elements sprinkled on top. The rhythm and melody are initially created by small boxed bells, an acoustic guitar, and ending with a very Vince Guaraldi-esque horn section—a beautiful call and response arrangement. The entire album is a bittersweet journey rooted in pop with well placed string, horn and vocal orchestration.
From the early age of five-years-old, Butler had a love for spaghetti westerns—largely influenced by his father. As he matured as an artist he found himself pulling inspiration from the two main important elements of the spaghetti western genre—musical orchestration and the quiet moments between dialogue. Butler also found that connection with Vince Guaraldi and his work with the Peanuts comic strip. He’d later be impacted and inspired by the album, Vince Guaraldi and the Lost Cues from the Charlie Brown TV Specials. The songs on this Guaraldi album were not all instrumentals and offered a guest vocalist accompanying the piano and horn arrangements. An added appeal for Jason was the juxtaposition between wonderfully written arrangements, which at times could be serious, and the subject matter of each song, silly animated characters.