England’s Pantaleimon (aka Andria Degens) has been playing music for years, collaborating with a wide range of musicians from Andrew W.K. to Current 93 to Will Oldham. Yet, in spite of her work with such acclaimed artists, Pantaleimon has remained somewhat obscure throughout the years, but with her fifth studio album, The Butterfly Ate The Pearl, that should change drastically. The record is a genuine exercise in space and sound textures, combined with songwriting sensibility that would stand up next to any pop song and is sure to leave the listener yearning to hear more.
To say that The Butterfly Ate The Pearl sounds like nothing else out there would be untrue. There are elements of folk music, ambient music, world music and even good old fashioned rock and roll that are peppered throughout the album. That being said, there are very few modern artists out there that can blend such ingredients together as seamlessly as Pantaleimon does on The Butterfly Ate The Pearl. Nearly every song on Butterfly could easily stand alone on the strength of Degens’ dream inducing voice alone, yet there is more to this album as a whole. Some songs are fairly straightforward in their execution, such as the lead single “Ember” whose slow-burning psychedelic infused folk not only makes for a great song, but also provides an introspective lyrical journey that is presumably familiar for anyone listening. Likewise, “Elevation of a Dream” encompasses all of the elements of traditional pop songwriting, albeit they are executed at a much more deliberate pace, lending a sort of ethereal grace to the proceedings.
However, not every song on The Butterfly Ate The Pearl is as structured. For example, the album’s title track is composed mainly of Degens’ voice accompanied by a sparse guitar line and enhanced with swirling sound textures that at times threaten to take over the listening experience, before fading back to obscurity. While many artists may take such seemingly small measures for granted, Panteleimon uses ambient noise to create a somewhat unsettling feeling in an otherwise gorgeous song. The use of these sounds is a mostly effective tool throughout Butterfly, however there are points where it does detract from the overall experience. One such example can be found with “Eagle Turning” which nearly strips away almost all recognizable instrumentation in favor of a subdued string arrangement that ebbs and flows throughout, creating a sense of seductive hypnosis. The downside of this being that the songs outright mellow nature detracts from the absolutely stunning narrative being sung by Degens, which in and of itself, would be a shame to miss out on.
As varied as the material found on The Butterfly Ate The Pearl is, it doesn’t come across a scattered listening experience. Really, quite the contrary. At times the record is a psychedelically leaning folk rock, other times ambient soundscapes with flourishes of traditional singer-songwriter fare. But the thread that unites all of these disparate elements is Degens’ melancholic but charismatic voice. It truly gives the recording a sense of fragility that may otherwise go unnoticed and because of that carefree airiness and chameleon like musical tendencies, The Butterfly Ate The Pearl should find Panteleimon a whole new audience to share with.