“Prophet”, “visionary”; “maven”, “auteur”: when it comes to descriptions of the renowned, Brian Transeau’s likely heard them all. Engineer of ‘IMA’, ‘ESCM’, ‘Movement In Still Life’ and others - his discography is lined with albums that qualify amongst electronic music’s most seminal. Now, in a continuance of his more experimental/theoretical releases, BT has crafted a spiritual successor to works like 2006’s ‘This Binary Universe’ and 'If The Stars Were Eternal' (2012).
‘Dash’? ‘Underscore’? ‘X’? ‘The Album With No Name’?! Right now, there’s no right or wrong way to articulate the title of _. It’s open to interpretation. Yours to reference, entirely as you will. When the future comes, consensus shall decide. Right now, all open source.
Filmic, thematic, dramatic? You’d expect nothing less from this release. Asymmetric, anti-algorhythmic and, by design, hard to predict? Likewise, without a doubt. With a trace of Future Sound of London and an evident edge of John Cage, it’s assembled, classically, into 6 tracks, bridged by 3 Movements. It’s also a musical composition in the truest sense of the expression.
Linking the album’s tracks are its 'Artifacture', 'Indivism' & 'Ω' Movements; BT’s modernist take on the classical composition structure. Sonically, each is a minor work of art in itself. Collectively however they make up a 25 section sequence of (as BT defines them “inter-compositional-themes”), creating 45 minutes of constantly flowing, ever-developing tonality.
Every section/Movement - some as short as a minute - is represented by an Italian language subtitle. 'Artifracture’s middle section bridge for example is made up of ‘La Vita Sotto il Mare’ and ‘Niente di Tutto Qualcosa’ (or ‘Life Under the Sea’ and ‘Nothing, Everything, Something’). Using wordplay, metaphor and nuance, when translated, each one subtly relates to what’s occurring musically within the composition.
BT’s album is, as ever, impelled as much by advancements in technology & technique, as it is mood, emotion & inclination. Alongside its more discernible breakthroughs, are far less perceptible and more complex ones. Deep within its cortex, innovative techniques and (per BT) “insane” amounts of new sound design modalities come in to play - all atomically micro-crafting its extraordinary universe.
Working alongside the music are the album’s visual components. The 9 pieces are completed by companion videos, each shot by BT himself. Each, in someway, either inspires the location of the video, or its location has inspired the music. End-to-end, they form a featurette, which - with each passing minute, draws you further and further into the album’s AV relationship.
Location, itself, plays a substantial part in the culture of the album too. It was recorded in places as close (relatively) as Maine & Maryland and as far apart as Iceland, China, Poland, Bora Bora and Australia. The composition of 'Artifracture’ alone, took place in studios located in countries on all 7 continents. The title’s connotations are occasionally as apparent as ‘Found In Translation’ and ‘Tokyo’ (both recorded primarily in Japan). More often though their associations are more suggestive and undertone-like in nature - there for the listener to absorb after looped plays. Likely you’ll be Googling ‘The Code Of Hammurabi’ before so very long.
This is an album that works on two significantly different levels. The first, as a dazzlingly, thrilling end-to-end sound-array / feat of technological accomplishment. The other, as a multimedia enigma - an armchair Easter egg hunt, or sonic crossword, where each listen brings new levels of interpretation, enjoyment and appreciation.
Whichever way you choose to absorb it, one thing’s for certain: BT - that arch guardian of the avant-garde, has delivered again.
BT: _ released October 14th
BT ‘_’ Track/Movement list
- _The Code Of Hammurabi
- _Lost In Translation
- _Five Hundred and Eighty Two