BT – This Binary Universe
This album sounds like the gold record on Voyager sent back to earth from another civilisation. I’m sure purists won’t align this with other classic ambient works of the Eno strain, which is probably for the best. This Binary Universe is definitely electronic – it deals in sounds which aren’t familiar, but uses them casually, with a glitchiness, and rides slow waves throughout the few, long tracks. But it is caring, it is taughtly meandering, and its ambition is carefully softened by the new and unfamiliar instruments created and disposed of through the story.
I have long been a fan of BT (Brian Transeau), through his ambient and trance days, and then into more psychedelic hip-hoppiness, but I didn’t expect this. His previous music was tight, new, and complete – a bubbling vision of the future, but tethered to the 4/4 kick drum. Having created a baby girl – who stars emotionally in the final track, particularly in the video form which documents a static legacy of remembrance, way in advance of what we would hope – his work took a right-turn and somehow threw out music for the night: a star-gazing extravagance, highlighting the glories and not the gaps. Perhaps more than anything, I was impressed at his ability to switch from one successful mode to another; an about-face, a decision to say ‘now, this’, and to continue on with a different motivation. The rut isn’t as big as we may think it is.