February 2007

BT - This Binary Universe
DTS Entertainment 692860114029
Format: CD & DVD
Released: 2006

by Anthony Di Marco

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality ****
Video Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

Synthesizers owe the likes of Brian Eno, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Bob Moog for their success. Music for Airports and Zoolook are two of the many jewels in the crowns of these electronic maestros. Brian Transeau, a.k.a. BT, developed his electronic chops on a foundation of classical training. Early work focused on house- and trance-driven arrangements, while This Binary Universe resembles Eno’s ambient work. On first listen, it comes off as a rip-off, a collection of swirling deliberate melodies searching for context.

I found perspective when I tossed aside the CD and spun up the DVD. I was reminded of film composer Bernard Herrmann. He was Alfred Hitchcock’s longtime collaborator, and, to me, a Herrmann score is not listenable without the visuals. Herrmann was a master of punctuation. His music was a companion to the picture, not a substitute for it. The same can be said for This Binary Universe, which comes alive only when its visual artistry and multichannel mix are present together. The multichannel audio and hallucinatory visuals immerse the listener in the material.

Not one track sticks out as better than the others. This Binary Universe is an experience that requires you to put aside an hour and twenty minutes of your evening, sit back in the dark in front of a large-screen monitor and your multichannel-audio system, and hit "Play All." Technically, there is little to criticize. Aurally, the DTS and two-channel mixes are almost too clean and free of distortion, while the art gallery of images offers excellent visual clarity and depth.