BT: These Hopeful Machines

RIYL: Chicane, Paul Oakenfold, machine gun edits

BT’s 2003 album Emotional Technology is still arguably the most overproduced album in music history, which is saying something given the huge advancements in overproduction in the last few years. Indeed, it appears that Mr. Transeau himself knows that he went too far on Emotional Technology, because his next album, 2006’s This Binary Universe, consisted largely of ambient orchestral music, with not a single vocal to be found. Now seven years removed from his last pop album, BT finally gets back on the horse and, BT being BT, he goes whole hog, though in a slightly different way. Where Emotional Technology contained bushels of those trademark stutter edits, These Hopeful Machines contains boatloads of music. Two albums’ worth, in fact, with nary a track under five minutes…and six songs over ten minutes. Uh oh.


Ah, we kid. These Hopeful Machines, despite its preposterous length – wisely, it’s being sold for the price of a single disc – is a triumphant return to form from a songwriting perspective. It may take 20 minutes to play them, but “Suddenly” and “The Emergency” are two of the best tunes BT’s written in ages, the latter of which sounds like a lost track from Chicane’s (awesome) Behind the Sun album. More importantly, BT has improved dramatically as a singer; the a cappella harmonies in “The Emergency” are stunning. He’s at the point where he doesn’t need guest singers to dress up his albums, though he brings a few in anyway, notably ex-Catherine Wheel singer Rob Dickinson. And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention “Rose of Jericho,” which blends Paul Oakenfold’s “Save the Last Trance for Me” with, of all things, Hot Butter’s instrumental “Popcorn.”

The album is still way, way too long – each song could stand to be at least a minute shorter – but closing Disc 2 with an ambient cover of the Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost in You” eases the listener fatigue a bit. The potential for a crossover hit is clearly here; if BT would submit to having an executive producer keep him focused, there would be little stopping him. (Nettwerk 2010)

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