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BT - "This Binary Universe" CD / DVD

Discussion in 'Music' started by Felix Martinez, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Well-Known Member

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    A few weeks ago, this hit the wire: DTS Entertainment Releases Groundbreaking Work By BT

    I rec'd "This Binary Universe" today. I listened to about 3/4 of it and liked it quite a bit. Here are some observations:

    1) The music is mind-boggling. It is ambient electronica, with some unbelievable slicing and dicing going on. Perhaps a bit much, but it is definitely something to hear. I don't believe more than 2 bars pass by without some ear-bending ear-candy.

    2) I find it a bit harder to embrace than his score for Monster, which is a masterpiece and should be a part of every music library. Here, it sometimes feels as if we're stuck in a computer, being bounced around like a pinball. Very cool, but I wonder how it will hold up to multiple listens.

    3) It's LOUD. While BT plays with dynamic range - among other sonic devices - the louder sections are audibly limited. I would have backed off about 4-5db in the mastering.

    4) No hi-res audio, ostensibly to make room for the video program. No surprise here, but it's still a DVD-9 filled to about 6-7 gigs.

    5) I've seen about half of the video programs while listening. They're artistic and abstract, but they didn't leave much of an impression. Some of the concepts also didn't really match the music, IMHO; however, they are treated and edited to match the sonic barrage and play in sync. Video quality is very good: 16:9 anamorphic, and compression seemed tight and smooth - no artifacts visible during a casual view. And these images I'm sure were taxing to the compressionist: lots of constantly moving fine details.

    6) The inclusion of a CD is a nice touch, and sounds great in the car (another LOUD mastering).

    7) The mix is outstanding. BT thankfully doesn't keep things swirling 100% of the time. He carefully uses the 5.1 pallette to extend the scope of the compositions rather than just go for whiz-bang effects. It is without question one of the most immersive mixes I've heard in some time, with lots of low-end, crisp highs, and everything in between.

    8) I couldn't FF or RW the tracks on my Onkyo universal player. Have to double check that.

    9) I can't friggin navigate this thing without a monitor if I want to just play it. There are menus to navigate, and even the tracks seem to skip around so that track 2 isn't really track 2. I have to relook at that and see what they were trying to do.

    10) Still think this is a very solid, very cool release. Folks that love BT's prior work, and also those of Tipper and other ambient electronica artists will dig "This Binary Universe."

    What BT offers - which is unique to this style of music - is his diverse musicianship. It is clearly evident (although moreso in the score for Monster), that he is a true musician and not just a computer technician manipulating sounds. While he comes close to the edge here and nearly falls over into "tweaker"-land - in the musical sense [​IMG] - this may very well be one of those releases that, in time and reflection, will be seen as a benchmark for the advancement of this style of music.
     
  2. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Well-Known Member

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    As it turns out, the first three didn't leave much of an impression. The rest are excellent, and the final video is heartfelt, moving, and put a tear in my eye and a big smile on my face!
     
  3. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Well-Known Member

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    This should be in "music." Not sure what happened...my apologies!
     
  4. Chris Monk

    Chris Monk Member

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    Sounds great. I'm a big BT fan. Are there any vocals on this release? Any by Jan Johnston?
     
  5. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Well-Known Member

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    No vox, IIRC, but I unfortunately wasn't able to hear it from start to finish. Very cool album, and a great companion to BT's score for Monster.
     
  6. BridgetJZ

    BridgetJZ Well-Known Member

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    I haven't known BT to be big on vocals.
     
  7. PerTerje

    PerTerje Member

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    BTs "Movement In Still Life" is full of vocals. But the nature of this album is very much trance, so the vocals are very simple... But he has been known to use a lot of vocals in earlier work. If I remember correctly, "ESCM" also has some vocals.

    Thanks for the heads up on this release! I'm a moderate, but very curious BT-fan, and always check out his work. And I loved his soundtrack to "Monster" [​IMG]
     
  8. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Well-Known Member

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    Until I read this thread, I had no idea that there was a new BT release out there. The last one I picked up was 'Emotional Technology' a couple of years back. I'm a casual fan of his work....I got into his music after picking up an EP of 'Blue Skies' that Tori Amos does vocals on. I liked it so much that I picked up 'Ima' which remains my favourite BT album. Think I'll search around for this one. [​IMG]
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    All of his albums have tracks with vocals, though IMA less so. BT is one of my favorites also, so I will definitely be picking this up. I've been pleased with each of his albums, including the "10yrs in he Life" compilation. I have 3 versions of Movements in Still Life (I like the UK version the best) and the SE version of IMA, which includes the entire album mixed together as one track and some other bonus stuff - definitey worth having.

    It says release date is Aug 29 for this one. I'm there [​IMG]
     
  10. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    I just picked this up. Very, very nice. It is very mellow, chill/ambient, with a few nice basslines here and there, though at times it does sound a bit soundtrack-ish (not that there is anything wrong with that). Some acoustic guitar, piano, synth/samples, and while it doesn't sound a lot like most of his previous work, it still has a definite BT feel to it - the story is told by the music and the composition is technical as always and flawlessly executed. So far, my favorites are 1.618, See You On The Other Side, and The Anhtkythera Mechanism. These are just the CD tracks, I can't wait to hear the dts.
     
  11. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    WOW! The dts tracks are pretty amazing. Very well mixed. The master of 2ch is now a master of multichannel [​IMG] These tracks really just come alive in 5.1 and it is as solid of a mix as I've heard. Lots going on in the surrounds, but not to the point of being distracting; overall balance is well done.
     
  12. LanceJ

    LanceJ Well-Known Member

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    Homepage for this album with a trailer for the video content (live action + CG content):

    thisbinaryuniverse.com

    Detailed reviews of the album:

    DigitalAudioWorks.com/This Binary Universe

    Excerpt from one review (someone else agrees with John G. [​IMG] ):


    Found another review, but this one uses so many specialized music terms I only understood about half of it.

    I ordered this via Soundwaves, an independent chain store here in Houston, and it should be here Tuesday.
     
  13. LanceJ

    LanceJ Well-Known Member

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    Got this tonight & am listening to the CD for the second time. Very nice, about 70% ambient/chillout + 30% "other" (that's as far as I can describe it - I'm not good with musical terms). Later I'll check out the surround mix then the video portion last, since I want to make sure the music is something I'll really like and won't be distracted by the 5.1 mix (several early surround titles I bought had great mixes but the music sucked) or the visuals (I think weak music can be perceived as something more than it really is if your eyes are occupied with something interesting).
     
  14. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    The dvd has a "first time listener" option that does not play the video portion for exactly the reason you describe. I believe he wants you to become familiar with the music first, then add the visual portion. Overall, most of the video didn't do much for me. Interesting yes, but an extension of the music? Not entirely IMO.
     
  15. LanceJ

    LanceJ Well-Known Member

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    I always wonder if musicans specifically ask for videos that DON'T correlate with the music, just so the listener's own "vision" of it won't be disturbed i.e. it's so left-field the visuals & music just won't stick together. For me they were very nice eye-candy and definitely not just thrown together at the last minute like so many other dvds and dvd-audio discs' bonus features seem to be.
     
  16. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    Have you seen Moby's 90 Minute Mega Mix on the Play DVD? Parts of this looks very similar. The visuals are not totally random on a few tracks, but they also aren't like Fantasia where the visuals are specifically done to the music. I like the music enough to just listen to it without the visuals [​IMG] The 5.1 mix is quite good.
     
  17. LanceJ

    LanceJ Well-Known Member

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    I guess i ought to check out at least one of his CDs. I guess I've held off so far because I hear his music so much in commercials, big awards shows, etc I'm a little bit wary (I guess I sound like a reverse music snob, eh? [​IMG] ). I've been buying some music+video dvds from this series and while every track on them aren't all stellar, there are enough good ones on each to make purchasing them worthwhile.
     
  18. LanceJ

    LanceJ Well-Known Member

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    I just finished one those big-azz reviews I write for things like this for a couple other music forums, but since Felix already wrote one here, here's my short short version.

    * I really like the music....whatever it is! [​IMG] Chillout + drum & bass + classical + some jazz + ambient. Those sound effects FM was talking about - I think they are what's technically called "glitchy" effects along with "stutter breaks" - were a bit confusing at first, but after awhile realized they matched the beat of the music - cool stuff :thumbsup: (but some people may find them to be just noise & will drive them nuts).

    * Shortest track on here is 8+ minutes with most being @10 minutes and one is fourteen minutes long. This definitely isn't pop music so you'll need to plan ahead a bit for your listening session. One reason for their length: most build up their emotion by sloooooowly adding layer upon layer of sound, which really pays off in the end. Each track is almost like a miniature sonic movie that way.

    * Surround mix is awesome. Ambience mixed with lots of discrete effects. Effective use of movement, like on "The Antikythera Mechanism" when the crescendos occur (certain sounds rush from rear to front in a split second to "meet" the rest of the instruments). Center is used most of the time, along with the LFE channel (not all surround mixes use these channels). If your guests have the time, this is a great demo of what surround music can be.

    * Sound is very good & detailed but is not grainy or harsh (another DTS electronica release, LTJ Bukem's Planet Earth is *way* too bright for my taste). This is fortunate because of the very wide dynamic range of this recording, so when those crescendos hit they don't irritate.

    fyi: one advantage of a "loud" digital recording is that such a signal uses more of the sample word's individual bits, giving the DAC more voltage levels to work with, resulting in a more accurate waveform.

    * The linear PCM stereo mix uses the 48kHz/24bit format and it sounds good also, though trying to jam all those sounds into the limited space of a 2.0 mix results in certain musical flourishes being muffled compared to the 5.1 mix where they are still subtle, but much more defined & in turn easily heard.

    * On my Pioneer DV-656A, if I use the "Play All" listening option or choose indiviudal tracks from the list, the REV and FWD scan functions work normally; when I use the "First Listen" option (only still images shown) they don't work.

    I'm glad I bought this album and mostly because of the music.
     
  19. dan-0

    dan-0 Well-Known Member

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    This is the first ambient type of music I've ever bought, I got it of course the DTS playback. Anyway, it's pretty cool and I like it.
     
  20. LanceJ

    LanceJ Well-Known Member

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    I like Eno's album a lot - while reading or doing other "quiet" activties, it keeps me calmly awake (I don't know how it does that but it works!) but if I want to sleep, I'm out like a light in just a few minutes.
     

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