This Binary Universe by BT is one of my favorite albums of all time, not to mention it's simply one of the best in the first decade of the 2000s. From the first note to the last second it had me yearning for albums like it, and music unlike any I'd ever heard before.
Ever since I heard of If the Stars are Eternal so are You and I (or TBU II as BT once told me), I couldn't wait to hear the successor in any shape or form.
The best part of that album was the DTS DVD accompaniment that is seemingly missing from this release. BT had originally told me the animations for TBU II would take 2 years (this was in 2007), so naturally I had expected them in some fashion. My only regret in such an album is that I fear I won't get to experience this as it's meant to be heard. Additionally, a new print of TBU cannot be found anywhere, which I'd hoped meant that a Blu-Ray release was imminent. But it's been several years and I'm glad I still have my DVD copy.
Alas, the album review:
1. Angels on my Broken Windowsill - Though it can't *really* be compared to the first track of TBU, it does something similar: it takes a melody and then in the middle of the song it distorts it. After a few seconds it's noticeable as the same but just barely. Towards the end it cools off and hits the main melody again and slowly fades back down. A nice spiritual successor to All That Makes Us Human Continues (1st track on TBU).
2. Go(d)t - This track has elements of 1.618 in it with the organic dynamics fused with electronic ambiance. It feels like a good spa song, with a constant rhythm throughout and what can only be described as an electronic thunderstorm rumbling near the horizon - it's there, but only so slightly.
3. Hymn  - We got a nice preview of this track from BT's Soundcloud several months ago. I can't say if it's the same version or not as I haven't had time to compare the 2, but it seems mostly intact. It has elements of See You on the Other Side from TBU in its slight gain of additional instruments to one melody, driven by someone in the beginning saying softly "Wake up." It gets going after a couple of minutes but continues its trance-infused dream throughout.
4. Hikari - Another track from Soundcloud that seems mostly undisturbed. The beginning takes its time (notice a theme here?) and about 4 minutes in starts to find its groove. Definitely the most upbeat on the album so far, Hikari has more electronic roots sinking in and seems that it could easily be dissected and thrown down on the dance floor. Not a bad thing, it's just a change of pace from the first 3 tracks.
5. Seven-Hundred-Thirty-Nine - This one starts off as an electronic sort of cadence and moves into beats and electronic piano/synthesizer. It makes no apologies and moves the album further into the electronic from the dream state where it started. Eventually it moves back down to a soft melody, which best reminds me of some of BT's work from the MONSTER OST ("Courtroom" song mostly), but I felt that some of those songs were leading up to the eventual TBU, so it's all good here. It does disintegrate into beats and waves of ambiance before transitioning
6. Our Dark Garden - I have to say the melody from this song (also on Soundcloud) was one of my favorites from the sneak peak of songs, as a tribal flute sounding instrument haunts the beginning, moving into guitar chords and their obvious transitions. I thought at first that could be a mistake and would be edited out eventually but the brilliance of BT layers it into the song masterfully. However, I dislike the vocals continually singing about this dark garden. An album like this I think demands strict attention to the music and vocals seem to remove that attention since the listener should be in a state of sleepiness or at least calmness while listening. Repetitive words, lyrics etc. I think severely detract from what I perceive the goal to be. The album version is unchanged from what I can tell. The ending portion of this song does beautifully in adding, layering and removing elements. The vocals are not a bad thing, and I hope they grow on me, but I view it as the weakest part of the song and the whole album, which is disappointing when the melody of the song is superb.
7. The Gathering Darkness - The beginning notes of this song definitely seem to be gathering something. Darkness may not be the best word for it, I would honestly describe tension. You can feel it for the first portion of this song, until a background melody comes from underneath the rock and filters into your brain. Definitely one of the stronger tracks on this album as it isn't afraid to put the electronic music fused with organic melodies right in your face. It's the kind of track that you imagine God will play for you as he screens your life before the gates of Heaven. It's that majestic. Slowing down it'll take you back to memories, hopes and aspirations. But the upbeat parts of this track will never let you forget that you're a part of something greater. It may not be as tearful as "Good Morning, Kaia" from TBU, however this song is just as epic and you just *know* BT had some life-altering scenario in mind when composing this song.
Overall I enjoy this album very much upon first listen(s). I definitely agree that it's a worthy follow-up to the "first" electronic study of the new millennium, however I have to say that whenever I throw on TBU I feel I'm transported more to places that exist only in my mind, and perhaps the animations helped me to get there as well, but I feel If the Stars are Eternal so are You and I tends to be the second stage of a grander set of music from BT. I certainly hope it won't be the last, and certainly am hopeful that either the animations will surface one day, or on another album of his in the future.
The lyrical issues I have with Our Dark Garden stand out to me as the biggest flaws of this album, which says a LOT that even with those additions and tuning to fit the song, I still feel they don't belong. Regardless of the things I may dislike I think anyone who listens to BT already knows the caliber to expect. For anyone who doesn't, perhaps try to find a copy of TBU first and then let this "sequel" move your brain. You won't be disappointed with either work, as this will stand as a worthy album of BT's many entries, both past and future. I really do hope he continues with these album types however, as the 6 years between TBU and this seem to prove that not many people have a grasp over the depth of electronic music. There is life after techno, and BT's album hits the nail on the head. He's a man ahead of the game because he's so understanding of how to PIONEER it. That is where the BT difference is.
Kudos, BT. Until TBU III...