Anyone with affection for treasure of a particularly luminous dream-pop vintage will know about Joe Cassidy and his alias Butterfly Child.
Having recorded three albums and a handful of EPs in the 90s, in 2012 a brand new Butterfly Child single ‘No Longer Living In Your Shadow’ was released without any fanfare, as Cassidy wasn’t then sure of what he was shaping up for. This is now resolved, as the first Butterfly Child album in 18 years is here.
'Futures' refutes any fears that Cassidy couldn’t match past glories with an epic, radiant 54-minute journey invested with his usual melodic richness – both musical and vocal - and a more widescreen production, even though the record was recorded at Cassidy’s LA home. Sonically, the album lives somewhere between The Beach Boys and dreampop, but with a much more direct emotional impact, between bliss and melancholy. It combines new songs with unreleased older material, reaching as far back as Cassidy’s very first demos as a teenager, and lyrics inspired by relationships past and present, and where Cassidy is now, 24 years after Butterfly Child’s first release.
In the early Nineties, a Butterfly Child demo had ended up with the celebrated noise/dream-pop adventurists A.R.Kane. The duo were signed to Rough Trade (UK) and Luaka Bop (US) but were starting their own label H! Ark. Cassidy recorded the Toothfairy EP (1991) and the Eucalyptus EP (1992) for H.ark! before he moved to Rough Trade himself for the Ghetto Speak EP and debut album Onomatopoeia (both 1993).
But Rough Trade’s collapse saw Butterfly Child move again, to Dedicated for the Beaujolais EP (1994) and The Honeymoon Suite album (1995). It was then Dedicated’s turn to implode. Cassidy – battling Britpop’s tide, “which I found woefully uninspiring” – was given a fortuitous way out by Chicago label Hitit!, which had licensed both Butterfly Child albums for the US, and invited Cassidy over to make use of studio space. “I just fell in love with Chicago,” he recalls. “I recorded eight tracks in a week, and then the label asked if I wanted to make an album. So I went back, and stayed for ten years! I’ve always gone where the chance to make music has been afforded to me.”
Hence the lush, sun-dappled climes of LA, which can be felt in the expansive folds and grooves of Futures, both on the softer, heartache-y side and pop-centric songs such as ‘A Shot In The Dark’ and ‘Holding On’. The latter has a fascinating genesis: Sirman sent a string loop to Cassidy, which reminded him of Dionne Warwick, though the eventual track was inspired by Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell. This being LA, Cassidy could call on his pals Justin, James and Christiaan, Webb’s three sons, to add backing vocals, while Campbell’s son Cal plays guitar and percussion.
The track also features drummer Matt Walker (he’s also on ‘Shot In The Dark’) and keyboardist Brian Liesegang. Other Futures guests are Ryan J Rapsys (Euphone, drums), Pendle Poucher (a Butterfly Child accomplice back in the Nineties, on ‘glitch’ guitar), Merritt Lear (another Butterfly Child accomplice, and Assassins co-singer, on violin and backing vocals) and Oliver Kraus (strings and horns on the exquisite finale ‘Beauty #2’). Assassins producer Stephen Hague (of Pet Shop Boys and New Order fame too) has done a remix of ‘A Shot In The Dark’ that will be released as the next Butterfly Child single.