M Butterfly is the nom-de-plume of Martyn Lewis, a 27 year old songwriter from Brighton who has just released his first album of subtle, sensitive sad-core.
Martyn plays guitar and synths as well as singing. Unusually, the album was recorded on to tape, giving it the feel at times of an old lost 78. Martin told us that “Thom was a wonderful producer who managed to hear the same things I heard in the songs, and he never doubted my ability, which gave me endless drive.”
This record took Martyn about 2 years to write and it was worth the wait. The album contains a beautiful collection of sad songs with a musical alt-country heart. The song ‘The Loving Arms’ might just be the saddest song you’ll ever hear. The collection as a whole is not depressing however, because of Martyn’s lyricism and ability to dive into melancholy and then bring the songs back, illustrated well by the opening lines of the first song ‘Yes, always’: “Well I stare into the abyss and make it blink…”
Martyn says his main influences are classic songwriters like Townes van Zandt, Vic Chesnutt and Judee Sill, all known for not being afraid to dive into the darker regions of the human mind at times. “Really heartfelt lyrics over relatively simple songs,” is Martyn’s summation. “In terms of dynamics and texture I took a lot of influence from Low, Julee Cruise and PJ Harvey’s more experimental albums. That Julee Cruise album was a massive influence with its textures on the guitars.” You can hear some of the Twin Peaks influence to good effect on some of the songs, and the album contains a similar shimmering sense of otherness.
The album has been released in a very limited CD-R edition which has already sold out, but you can still buy the music from bandcamp. Martyn is planning to release a very limited lathe cut vinyl EP later this year which he says will include some full band songs. One of which, ‘strings on yr wrist’ has featured in his live set for a while. “Hopefully [the band songs] will be fast and noisy and grungy.”
“After this I’ll start writing for album 2. I won’t be rushing anything for the second record,” he says. “I’m very into beats at the moment, and whilst I definitely won’t be doing a hip hop album I’d like to record a song or two that you could dance to!”
Surprising perhaps, but whatever it sounds like, we look forward to album number two with eager anticipation.
You can listen to M Butterfly I here: