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Anna Butterss: Activities (Colorfield)

A review of the debut album from the Australian bassist and composer

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Anna Butterss: Activities (Colorfield)
The cover of Activities by Anna Butterss

Multi-instrumental wunderkind Anna Butterss hails from Australia but the pulsating electro-splashed post-jazz goodness bouncing off Activities vibrates with L.A. energy. The bassist and composer has been residing in Los Angeles for nearly a decade and has certainly made her mark there: She’s a scene cornerstone and in-demand sidewoman, with top-notch collaborators including Jeff Parker, Makaya McCraven, and Chris Speed.

Her first record under her own name is an impressive feat in more ways than one, as Butterss plays nearly every instrument heard on the set. Not only is she a powerhouse upright and electric bassist, but she’s equally adept at guitar, piano, Rhodes, analog and digital synths, drums, drum programming, percussion, flute, and vocals. Although friends drop by for a few of the album’s 12 tracks—Josh Johnson on alto saxophone, Ben Lumsdaine and Christian Euman on drums—on the whole Activities is a one-person operation, with significant help from engineering and mixing ace Pete Min (who also shares composition credits with Butterss on 10 tunes).

Butterss and Min are miracle-working sound designers, patching together a gloriously splattered canvas with textures and patterns that are both mind-bending and mellifluous. Butterss’ time spent with cats like Parker and McCraven is manifest on Activities, as groovy and glitchy tunes like “Doo Wop,” “Super Lucrative,” and “Blevins” call to mind not only the latter’s Universal Beings and Universal Beings E&F Sides (which Butterss guested on) but also the Chicago post-rock of the former’s Tortoise. While the production wizardry on Activities is a wonder, it’s Butterss’ hefty bass prowess that leads the charge on each piece. An exceptional debut.

Learn more about Activities on Apple Music.