6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A revolution in electronica music,
This review is from: These Hopeful Machines (Audio CD)
Let's start this review off with a large mea culpa: I've never listened to a BT album start to finish. I knew of BT's influence on electronica but always felt the majority of his tunes (apart from Flaming June) were pretension masquerading as art. 'These Hopeful Machines' bears some of those fears out with five completely mediocre religious rock pseudo-trance tracks in Unbreakable, Ghost in You, Suddenly, Love Can Kill You and Always. I know that is being awfully dismissive of half this double-disc but these tracks are just a cacophony of lazy chord structures, heavy-handed vocals and played-out rock tropes. Boiler-plate beats and copious amounts of saccharine lyrics do not help blend genres as well as BT intended. Probably a back of the hand compliment to say but Suddenly's bombastic opening slightly redeems an otherwise egregiously poor set of five tracks. Snarky question: do the words 'pray' and 'love' make up 80% of BT's lyrical vernacular? It's a good thing then that the rest of 'These Hopeful Machines' is so game-changing and phenomenal. Those superlatives may seem sacrosanct compared to what I just wrote but the other seven tracks feel like they were produced by a different person.
For example, Side B's Nocturne De Lumiere. It is basically the Avatar of music in so much as it does things technically that no musician has ever tried and succeeded at before. BT, like Cameron had to create his own equipment just to achieve the complexity he desired for this track. Lumiere is layered better than an Eskimo; there are little noises I am just now discovering in my 50th playthrough. There are fleeting moments in the track that just make you stop and think: "How the **** did he do that?" It's not hyperbole to say that Lumiere sounds like a track produced by aliens. For this song alone, BT has revolutionized electronica music and has made regular trance music feel shallow, repetitive and downright amateurish, in comparison. Between the anachronistic song structure, incredible morphing breakdowns and remarkably innovative sounds, Le Nocturne de Lumiere is in a word: aural bliss. A track that I hope people will look back to and say "Enough with these ubiquitous drum and bass lines already, give me some complexity in my music, damnit!"
Aside from Rose of Jericho (basically Nocturne's A-side), the other five tracks are an eclectic mix of vocal trance. For the most part, the differences between each of the other five tracks are fairly granular. Each track successfully blends pop with trance and contains infectious lyrics along with incredibly memorable beats. A Million Stars' vocals are truly haunting, The Light of Things is a track that I wish Tiesto was still producing, The Emergency is a club-banger with a tear-jerking finish, Forget Me's star is BT's daughter whose melodic singing over chimes and the rainforest are simply heartbreaking and Every Other Way is your typical trance tune without the usual cheese. It's hard to juxtapose and compare these five fantastic vocal-heavy tracks to the other five; I'll only say that I prefer the ambient-electronica blends over the rock-trance ones and that these five stayed with me while the others faded away. It makes me crestfallen to think that we'll have to wait another 3-4 years for the next BT joint. Let's hope this isn't the last refuge of a true visionary but the start of a real revolution in electronic music.