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BT - "This Binary Universe" CD / DVD


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#1 of 24 Felix Martinez

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Posted July 28 2006 - 01:43 PM

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 Posted Image - 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 of 24 Felix Martinez

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Posted July 28 2006 - 04:31 PM

Quote:
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.
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 of 24 Felix Martinez

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Posted July 29 2006 - 02:09 PM

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

#4 of 24 Chris Monk

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Posted July 30 2006 - 12:29 PM

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

#5 of 24 Felix Martinez

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Posted August 01 2006 - 07:23 AM

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 of 24 BridgetJZ

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Posted August 01 2006 - 08:35 AM

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

#7 of 24 PerTerje

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Posted August 03 2006 - 12:01 AM

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" Posted Image

#8 of 24 Joseph J.D

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Posted August 03 2006 - 01:48 AM

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. Posted Image
Recently watched- Lost: Season 2, Dracula(1979), Lost: Season 1, True Grit(2010), Tales From The Crypt: Season 1, 300: Rise Of An Empire 3D, Noah, Sin City, Phantom Of The Paradise, 300, The Final Terror, Willow, The Bank Job, One Hour Photo, Gone Baby Gone, Horrible Bosses, Buried

Currently watching- Planet Earth, The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Cheers: Season 6, True Blood: Season 2, Gatchaman: The Complete Series, Simon & Simon: Season 3, Lost: Season 3, Tales From The Crypt: Season 2, The Walking Dead: Season 4
 

"Namaste...and good luck'."


#9 of 24 John Garcia

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Posted August 03 2006 - 04:43 AM

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 Posted Image
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#10 of 24 John Garcia

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Posted August 29 2006 - 07:55 AM

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.
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#11 of 24 John Garcia

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Posted August 30 2006 - 04:42 AM

WOW! The dts tracks are pretty amazing. Very well mixed. The master of 2ch is now a master of multichannel Posted Image 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.
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Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

 


#12 of 24 LanceJ

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Posted September 03 2006 - 11:57 AM

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. Posted Image ):

Quote:
"1.618" is so absurdly beautiful it doesn't seem like something that could even be created by a simple human being. "See You On The Other Side" is melancholy, yet so full of hope. The grand scope of "The Anhtkythera Mechanism" is nothing short of mindblowing, but it was the last track on the album that did it.

It was the first song to ever make me weep.

"Good Morning Kaia" is the single most beautiful piece of music I have ever experienced in all the years I have been alive. The accompanying video on the DVD features video footage and still pictures of BT and his daughter together and is so touching, so personal, that only the most jaded individual would find it difficult not to cry as they watch the unadulterated and unconditional love of a father for his daughter. As the pictures and private film rolls by, a message from father to daughter scrolls across the screen. Set to the music, it will move anyone with a heart and soul to tears, and parents themselves should keep a box of tissues handy.

In fact, the real treat of this album IS the DVD, not for the videos for each song. Sure, they're neat and filled with some beautiful and surrealistic CG imagery, but it's the DTS surround sound mix found on the DVD that is worth the extra cash. After hearing the 5.1 mix of the record, it almost seems unfair to listen to the 2-channel stereo recording on the CD.

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 of 24 LanceJ

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Posted September 05 2006 - 05:52 PM

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 of 24 John Garcia

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Posted September 13 2006 - 04:21 AM

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.
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#15 of 24 LanceJ

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Posted September 13 2006 - 08:36 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Garcia
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.
I used the CD to listen to the album the first 3 times (I do much of my listening in the car and the kitchen) and finally played the dvd and saw that useful option. Oh well. Posted Image

Quote:
Overall, most of the video didn't do much for me. Interesting yes, but an extension of the music? Not entirely IMO.
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 of 24 John Garcia

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Posted September 14 2006 - 08:06 AM

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 Posted Image The 5.1 mix is quite good.
HT: Emotiva UMC-200, Emotiva XPA-3, Carnegie Acoustics CSB-1s + CSC-1, GR Research A/V-1s, Epik Empire, Oppo BDP-105, PS4, PS3,URC R-50, APC-H10, Panamax 5100 Bluejeans Cable
System Two: Marantz PM7200, Pioneer FS52s, Panasonic BD79
(stolen) : Marantz SR-8300, GR Research A/V-2s, Sony SCD-222ES SACD, Panasonic BD-65, PS3 60G (250G)

Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

 


#17 of 24 LanceJ

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Posted September 14 2006 - 04:17 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Garcia
Have you seen Moby's 90 Minute Mega Mix on the Play DVD? Parts of this looks very similar.
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? Posted Image ). 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 of 24 LanceJ

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Posted September 14 2006 - 08:24 PM

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! Posted Image 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 of 24 dan-0

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Posted September 18 2006 - 09:43 AM

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 of 24 LanceJ

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Posted September 18 2006 - 10:46 AM

Quote:
This is the first ambient type of music I've ever bought,
You might want to try what's considered the beginning of ambient (or "chillout") music:

Brian Eno's Music For Airports: Ambient 1

excerpt from the link:

Quote:
Amazon.com essential recording
Eno's theory of the "discreet music" he called ambient was far from the modern chill-out room: the idea was that it should function at very low volumes, unobtrusively coloring the atmosphere of a room. Evolving by tiny gradations, the long pieces of Music For Airports (the first in a series of albums that followed the statement of purpose Discreet Music) defy close attention, but then they're not meant to be listened to consciously; they're meant to serve as a counterpoint to the frantic arcs of travel, or rather to be imagined in that setting.
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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