BT – The Antikythera Mechanism

March 31, 2009

Today’s MSMOTD is BT – The Antikythera Mechanism

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This song is from one of my favourite albums, 2006′s “This Binary Universe”.  It is, in my opinion, a towering achievement, both technically and compositionally.  The entire album is unique (you’ve never heard anything quite like it), but also very pleasing, melodic and multi-layered.  This song, named after a 2100 year old Greek Analog Computer (more on this later!), begins as a soft solo piano piece, with other instrumentation joining in (guitars, sweeps, a ukulele) and building to a glitchy, spacey, mulling crescendo.  At this point, the 120-piece Seattle Symphony Orchestra joins in with powerful melodic stabs before being entirely deconstructed and destroyed in a shower of stutters and blips just before the end of the piece.  It’s an ethereal, thoughtful and atmospheric song which inspires me endlessly.

The entire album is incredibly beautiful and it never gets old for me.  It’s one of my single biggest influences as an artist.  The music is a mix of electronic and classical influences with virtuoso compositional flair (this album uses time signatures you’ve never heard of, but they’re used beautifully and seamlessly so you probably wouldn’t even notice). It’s an electronic symphony. Not only is it a musical achievement (the entire album is mixed in 5.1 surround), but it’s a visual one as well.  The album comes with a DVD with videos constructed for each of the 8 songs on the album.  The Antikythera Mechanism and 1.618 (the Golden Ratio) have elaborate artistic videos evoking both the history of the mechanism and the order/math of nature.  They are filled with beautiful imagery that really adds to the music and I highly suggest checking them out.  I’ve included VIMEO links below, since it’s higher quality than youtube (important for these videos) and both songs go over YouTube’s 10-minute limit. I would have embedded them, but for some reason the sound doesn’t work when I do that (?)

BT – The Antikythera Mechanism (video at vimeo)
BT – 1.618 (video at vimeo)
Please, please go watch these videos.

BT also dedicated one of his songs (Good Morning Kaia) as a lullaby to his 2 year old daughter Kaia.  It’s lovely, and it’s accompanied by a very delicate, heartfelt video with footage of him and his daughter (who sat on his lap as he composed it) and a message from him to his daughter.  Anyone who’s a parent should watch this video.

BT is Brian Transeau, an accomplished and world-famous electronica artist.  His previous work was as a trance/house artist and he’s done collaborations and composition for artists from David Bowie and Peter Gabriel to NSync and Britney Spears.  He also did the film score for “Monster” and “Go” amongst others.

Here’s that promised aside about The Antikythera Mechanism.  It’s almost more exciting than the song!  Why?  For two reasons.  First, it (as an orrery, or astronomical calculator) displays a knowledge of planetary motion far exceeding what we had thought existed at the time, or indeed for hundreds of years following.   Secondly, it is an incredibly complex gearwork device, similar in complexity to devices just being developed in 18th century Europe.  The ancient Greeks had this advanced technology and it was lost for thousands of years before being independently redeveloped!  What else has been lost to time?  What would have happened had this not been lost?  One thing is for sure: we’d all have flying cars by now!

I was very excited to see the Antikythera Mechanism in person at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

I was very excited to see the Antikythera Mechanism in person at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

Further info about today’s MSMOTD

Official Website: http://www.btmusic.com/

Wikipedia Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Binary_Universe

Buy the album/DVD set at Amazon.com. Unfortunately, the album/song don’t appear to be available on Amazon’s excellent MP3 download service. But you should buy the physical CD/DVD set anyways so you can get the full visual/5.1 surround experience.

6 Responses to “BT – The Antikythera Mechanism”

  1. This Binary Universe is the absolute best music to have on whilst studying. No distracting lyrics, generally unhurried composition, but plenty of tension and release to keep the mind from wandering. Another great choice of song for Mons Tunes, Vantage.

  2. Yeah, it’s my preferred study music. Like you say, it’s understated enough to not distract, but never becomes boring either, and works at drowning out ambient noise. I actually listen to a lot of trance while I study too, though mainly to provide a simple, pleasing, repetitive background noise to drown out any other noises/distractions. Perhaps I’ll do a “great study music” MSMOTD later on.

  3. That would be great! Other favorite study musics: Interstate ’76 Soundtrack, LCD Soundsystem, Ratatat, and the Amélie Soundtrack.

  4. Happy Monday! you should read this.. Enjoyed “MSMOTD – The Antikythera Mechanism by BT” although maybe not everyone did. I’ll make sure I visit this site once a day. Added a subscription to your feed.

  5. Pheew.. Thanks for putting up that video Good Morning Kaia.. I am crying my eyes out here.. And REALLY missing my daugther…

  6. [...] for Best Surround Sound Album, which I didn’t even know was a grammy category!  Really, BT’s “This Binary Universe” should just win that award every year until further [...]

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