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BT interview - This Binary Reflection

Author: Aaron Roach
Tuesday, 20 February 2007
Most people are going to read this interview because they know it's about BT - a man that defies introductory cliches. I could sit here and talk of all his achievements, but a quick Google search will give enough information to last … whatever. I'm not here to clog up the bandwidth with any more background. His new album This Binary Universe is now available and it's essential listening.

BT has always been a storyteller, with his albums more than just arrangements that fade in and out with DJ-friendly beats. The press release says 'dream house', but I avoid the phrase and BT is more than happy to discuss the importance of building a sound rather than follow the mainstream-like, linear nature of dance music.

"So much about the experience of music is not just the actual composition itself, but how things transition…It's a bit of a magical thing," BT explains. "The thing is, you have to sell those transitions to your audience…most of the time is spent working on those transitions."

With BT's previous albums all directed more towards the dance floors, 'This Binary Universe' is going to feel more comfortable in the headphones. It's a separation from what he's provided punters for many years and a shift towards what you'd expect in the background of his soundtracks for films such as 'GO'. But friends thought it was a step in the wrong direction.

"It [the new album] was, more than anything, like letting my guard down. So many people around me were like 'Oh, you can't do this…nobody is going to care', thinking that the music was too personal.

"I was just able to shut that out and dig in and make the…mandate that was given to me. It's weird - you don't choose these things, it's whether you choose to listen to them. You have to allow it to happen."

Re-wiring circuits from the backs of toys and even the dreaded furby was a major part of making the new album evolve. BT explains that the process was really rewarding in that it allowed him to push some major boundaries in helping to define the word 'electronic' in electronic music. "What I really love about circuit-bending is that you can really apply an ethos to electronic music.

"Circuit-bending actually makes random instruments. You make things that are completely unpredictable. You're using these things in a way that was never intended by the manufacturers. I love that kind of idea."

BT found the need to use his own software when it came to designing the beats for the new album, as he felt trapped by the "software programmer's will". "Break Tweaker was about making a drum machine in surround sound. There hasn't been one - it's the first ever drum machine built for surround sound. All the beats on This Binary Universe were created with Break Tweaker."

The album isn't only a record - it features a DVD of animation composed around the music. BT ensures "it's the first of three for the series". "It doesn't mean I will stop writing music for the dance floors, which is what my next record is more about."

He was also positive that this was going to be a way for him to start separating projects. "I think 'This Binary Universe' really is its own thing now. It's not…mine. I like the idea of sitting down and listening to a record where it has a consistent emotional through-line. This is the first record since 'Ima' that has that. It's very diverse and it expands, but it has an emotional through-line."

You'd think the interview was, in many respects, being held with a +8 wizard from some crafted war world. BT's a geek - but in a way all producers would like to be. The first track on the record, All That Makes Us Human Continues, was coded in CSound and took six months to complete.

Having such a raw angle on a tune that sounds as though it was written on expensive equipment is, BT says, "the greatest thing in the world".

"I talk to kids at speaking engagements and they're always like<
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