Music: BT

"My motivation is simple.
To be additive. I wish in some small way to bend the collective human narrative towards the positive.
To inspire untold (even to me) small leaps of faith that germinate and grow in people I will never know.
To make music that makes people feel connected & less alone. That inspires people to face life and even if they fail to do so with dignity."
BT

BT is the stage name of Brian Transeau, a prominent electronic musician. His signature style includes a lot of post-processing effects, oftentimes making you think that your MP3 player has crashed horribly or become possessed by something quite unpleasant. Despite this, his music is still precisely rhythmical, insanely catchy, and omnipresent.

His albums have run the gamut from straight progressive trance, to vocal-heavy dance, to phenomenally stirring ambient music. As a producer, he's collaborated with many other artists (Mike Doughty, Tori Amos, Britney Spears, and Stewart Copeland to name a few) and remixed songs by... pretty much anyone he hasn't collaborated with (Madonna, The Doors, Diana Ross).

His 2010 album These Hopeful Machines was nominated for a Grammy Award in the "Best Dance/Electronica" category, losing to La Roux's self-titled album.

Discography

Studio Albums
  • Ima (1995)
  • ESCM (1997)
  • Movement in Still Life (1999/2000)
  • Emotional Technology (2003)
  • This Binary Universe (2006)
  • These Hopeful Machines (2010)
  • Nuovo Morceau Subrosa (2012)
  • If the Stars Are Eternal So Are You and I (2012)
  • A Song Across Wires (2013)

EP's
  • Turn Me On (1999)
  • Extended Movement (2000)
  • The Technology EP (2004)
  • Human Technology EP (2005)

Compilations
  • R&R: Rare & Remixed (2001)
  • Still Life in Motion (2001)
  • 10 Years in the Life (2002)
  • These Humble Machines (2011); Radio-edits of These Hopeful Machines on a single disc.
  • These Re-Imagined Machines (2011); A 2-disc set containing many assorted remixes of tracks from These Hopeful Machines. A 4-disc set containing an obscene amount of goodiesnote  was released some time later.
  • Laptop Symphony (2012); A 2-disc set containing various new remixes, in the spirit of most of his live performances. "Flaming June" from ESCM makes its triumphant return as the final track on the second disc.

Sample CD's
  • Breakz from the Nu Skool (2002)
  • Twisted Textures (2002)
  • 300 Years Later (with Nick Phoenix) (2005)

Music appearances


Tropes used in BT's music:

  • Author Appeal: Mathematical concepts, which prominently show up in song titles and samples, and occasionally lyrics. He once explained on Facebook an old technique of his that used the curve of a parabola to calculate pings/samples that speed up or slow down.
  • Bishōnen: Oh yes.
  • Boastful Rap: On "Knowledge of Self", "Madskillz-Mic Chekka", and "Kimosabe", with the caveat that the vocalist isn't BT.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The final verse of the Industrial section of Solar Plexus.
  • Epic Rocking: Barring Sasha's 42 minute DJ mix on BT's debut album Ima, most of the standalone songs fit the bill: the two-part "Loving You More" is a total of 13 minutes; "Blue Skies", another two-parter, is 17 minutes; and "Divinity" is 11 minutes. They don't call it "epic house" for nothing.
    • Sasha, who had a penchant for long songs back in the day, also did a 12-minute remix of "Embracing the Sunshine", and a 13-minute mix of "Remember".
    • The majority of songs on ESCM were also over 8 minutes in length, culminating with the awesome 11-minute "Content".
      • "Content" proper is actually around 8 minutes in length; following nearly two minutes of silence, there is a short hidden track starting at 9:51. It is a small orchestral version of "Flaming June".
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The album version of "Loving You More" has a 9-minute lead in track (the "Garden of Ima" dub mix), which segues into the "Final Spiritual Journey" mix (the radio edit).
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Best exemplified on This Binary Universe, where the sounds of his daughter's infant giggles get used to great effect. One press release for the album mentioned that BT had used circuit bending (re-wiring instruments, or in this case, even household appliances and Furbys) to create unique sounds.
    • The credits for the song "Le nocturne de Lumiθre" on These Hopeful Machines list "who knows what else" after all of the conventional (and non-conventional) instruments, and all of the software BT wrote himself.
    Genre Roulette 
  • Genre Roulette: Following every album since Ima, BT's music spans virtually every genre.
    • ESCM contains the following:
      • "Firewater" – Trip Hop
      • "Orbitus Teranium" – Electro
      • "Flaming June" – Trance
      • "The Road to Lostwithiel" - Drum and Bass
      • "Lullaby for Gaia" - A tribute to New Order.
      • "Memories in a Sea of Forgetfulness" – Drum and Bass
      • "Solar Plexus" – Cuss-filled Industrial, leading into a soft piano ballad.
      • "Nectar" - Trance
      • "Remember" – Orchestral Vocal Trance
      • "Love, Peace, and Grease" – Old Skool Electro
      • "Content" – Trance, ending with an orchestral version of Flaming June
    • The US release of Movement In Still Life goes even further...
      • "Madskillz-Mic Chekka" – Electro Rap
      • "Never Gonna Come Back Down" – Electronic Rock
      • "Dreaming" – Vocal Trance
      • "Shame" - Alternative Rock
      • "Movement in Still Life" – Big Beat/Turntablism
      • "Satellite" – Downtempo/Acoustic Rock
      • "Godspeed" – Trance
      • "Running Down the Way Up" – J-Pop-esque Vocal Dance Pop
      • "Mercury and Solace" – Vocal Trance
      • "Smartbomb" – Big Beat
      • "Love on Haight Street" – Smooth Rap
    • Emotional Technology continues where Movement In Still Life left off...
      • "Knowledge of Self" – Electro Rap
      • "Superfabulous" – Pop Rock
      • "Somnambulist (Simply Being Loved)" – Pop
      • "The Force of Gravity" – Vocal Trance
      • "Dark Heart Dawning" – Acoustic Alternative Rock with Soul/Gospel influence
      • "The Great Escape" – Vocal Electro
      • "P A R I S" – Electronic Rock/Dance
      • "Circles" – Alternative Rock
      • "The Last Moment of Clarity" – Dance Pop
      • "Communicate" – Vocal Dance
      • "Animals" and "The Only Constant Is Change" – Acoustic Rock
    • Next comes This Binary Universe, which itself is a genre shift from mainstream music to experimental orchestra music.
      • "All That Makes Us Human Continues" and "Good Morning Kaia" - Instrumental rock.
      • "Dynamic Symmetry" - The song itself has four distinct movements, following the same scale and melody. The first is Breakbeat, followed by Electronic Minimalism, then Jazz, and finally Drum and Bass.
      • "The Internal Locus" - Orchestral, briefly segueing into a Hip Hop beat.
      • "1.618" - Experimental Downtempo.
      • "See You On The Other Side" - Ambient Chillout.
      • "The Antikythera Mechanism" - Glitch Hop mixed with Stravinsky-esque Dramatic Orchestra.
    • These Hopeful Machines tones down the Genre Roulette, but is still quite varried.
      • "Suddenly", "Forget Me", "Love Can Kill You", and "The Unbreakable": Electronic Rock
      • "The Emergency" - House
      • "Every Other Way" and "Always" - Electronic Soft Rock
      • "The Light of Things" and "A Million Stars" - Vocal Trance
      • "The Rose Of Jericho" and "Le Nocturne de Lumiθre" - Instrumental Trance
      • "The Ghost In You" - A Softer And Slower Cover of the song by the The Psychedelic Furs. Here, many of the instruments are actually recorded on classical tape decks.
    • Averted with A Song Across Wires, which is mostly Trance and House, with the exception of "Letting Go", a Dubstep song.
  • Kids Rock: "Forget Me", out of nowhere, ends with BT's daughter Kaia singing the chorus herself.
  • Loudness War: These Hopeful Machines has gotten a bit of flack for this.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Despite being a dance music musician, BT loves playing rock at any chance he gets...
    • Level 2: "Satellite" from Movement In Still Life, "Animals" from Emotional Technology.
    • Level 3: "Dark Heart Dawning" and "The Only Constant Is Change" from Emotional Technology, "Always" from These Hopeful Machines
    • Level 4: "Shame" from Movement In Still Life, "Superfabulous" from Emotional Technology, "Love Can Kill You" from These Hopeful Machines
    • Level 5: "Suddenly" and "Forget Me" from These Hopeful Machines
    • Level 6: "Solar Plexus" from ESCM, "Circles" from Emotional Technology.
  • New Sound Album: BT has changed sounds several times as his musical and mathematical vocabularies continue to grow.
    • Ima was deep/progressive house.
    • ESCM went for progressive trance, trip hop and drum and bass.
    • Movement in Still Life kept the trance but added New Breakbeat music.
    • Emotional Technology was trance-pop and rock ballads. These Hopeful Machines followed suit with more trance and more rock.
    • This Binary Universe was a complete Genre Shift to experimental, ambient and new age electronica (influenced by Creator Breakdown due to his equipment being stolen and his daughter's kidnapping.) If the Stars Are Eternal, So Are You and I and Nuovo Morceau Subrosa followed suit with more glitch, dark ambient, drone music and chillstep (an ambient form of dubstep.)
    • A Song Across Wires went straight for electro house and trance (aka electronic dance music.)
    • His soundtracks will also invariably be in entirely different moods than his albums, due to the nature of scoring films and video games.
  • Non-Appearing Title: :"Superfabulous", "Somnambulist"("somnambulating" appears, but not "somnambulist"), "Paris"(although "Parisians" appears), and "The Last Moment of Clarity" from Emotional Technology; "Movement in Still Life" and "Love on Haight Street" from Movement in Still Life; and "Firewater", "Lullaby for Gaia", and "Solar Plexus" from ESCM.
  • Single Stanza Song / Looped Lyrics - "Smartbomb" features a line taken from the next track ("Love on Haight Street": "Back on the set and coverin' all bets, ha") looping over and over with a short chorus carrying the title.
    • "Nectar" from ESCM is a perfect example; beginning at 1:40, until the very end, the lyrics are just one line:
      "And it ebbs and goes, ebbs and goes, where love can only flow."
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: He apparently does not like Borgore very much.
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: This Binary Universe filled this void for several of his fans. His daughter's appearance on "Forget Me" also had the same effect.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Never Gonna Come Back Down", his collaboration with Mike Doughty, is naturally full of this. Adding to the weirdness, Doughty also recites from the Book Of Revelations, gives shout outs to an imaginary audience, and asks for DJ Rap's phone number in gratuitous Spanish. BT actually had him do a few takes of improvised rambling and pasted together the best bits of them between verses.
    "That's what I do for a living..."
    • "Blue Skies" from Ima also qualifies, as the vocals were made entirely of random clips of Tori Amos improvising. In production, she never once said the words "blue" and "skies" in the same sentence.