The master of progressive electronic music has done it again. Hot off the trails of big-room house tunes like Tomahawk with Adam K, the brand new Arty collaboration Must Be the Love with the stunning Nadia Ali, the first single from his upcoming EDM project, and the two-and-a-half hour Laptop Symphony megamix, pulling together the biggest and most diverse tracks from his own weekly radio show on Sirius XM, BT surprises us yet again with two fully realized releases: If the Stars are Eternal So are You and I and Morceau Subrosa.
These albums are likely not what the average EDM fan is expecting. BT is notorious for throwing curveballs every which way: IMA is a hallmark of classic 90s trance; ESCM diversified his sound and introduced drum n bass and hip hop elements; Movement in Still Life was an even bigger transition into hip hop while also spawning a couple of BT’s most legendary trance singles; Emotional Technology showed off his superb pop construction; and This Binary Universe was a complete 180, being almost entirely an ambient downtempo experiment of sonic layering. His most recent masterpiece, These Hopeful Machines, takes all of these elements and elevates them to the next level, while also proving that the master can pen mean tracks from nearly every music style—just take a look at Suddenly, a hard-hitting, emotional rock song; The Emergency is easily one of the best progressive house tracks in years; and Every Other Way is a stunningly gorgeous representation of pop music with intense glitch and dub elements.
And yet, somehow he manages to surprise us again with two new projects. If the Stars are Eternal So are You and I is essentially a direct follow-up to This Binary Universe: taking a more synthetic and beat-based feel than the previous album, ITSAESAYAI continues the ambient downtempo trend in a new fashion. Opening ever so slowly with 13 Angels on My Broken Windowsill, BT sets the mood of the album: fluttering, ethereal filtered synthesizers, complementary backing samples, and a painstakingly slow yet utterly necessary progression through the track build into a positively breathtaking middle section, introducing a few heavier elements and the album’s first undulating beats washing through the speakers like sonic liquid gold. And then, just when you thought you had the tune figured out, BT breaks into probably the most solid dubstep drop I have ever heard in my life—even going so far as to incorporate a brief slap bass solo, BT’s originality and perfection in composition knows no bounds.
The album slowly winds its way through Go(D)T, a minimal study on beats and samples, before landing in Hymn , the first track BT previewed from either of these new albums. Inspired by him sitting at home during the winter watching his Christmas lights twinkle, Hymn  unhurriedly constructs point and counterpoint, building melody while samples fade in and out, until a dub-inspired beat comes in and grants a sense of urgency and desperation to this otherwise tranquil and stunning tune. Another high point on the album is Hikari, previously released as another album teaser on BT’s SoundCloud. The perfect melding of organic and synthetic, Hikari features a cascading synthesizer arpeggio giving structure to stunning piano and guitar tonalities, offering a melodic reprieve amidst oceans of ambient sound.
Perhaps no other BT track showcases his true mastery of the slow build than Our Dark Garden. Employing the most minimal composition possible, Our Dark Garden retains the same gentle guitar melody for its thirteen-minute duration, while synthesizers and samples slowly wash in and out, as waves against the shore, bidding the listener to dive in and swim in sonic bliss. Reaching an eventual climax, BT’s gorgeous singing voice highlights the only vocal on the album, adding one more human element to the wall of sound before slowly fading away into nothing. If the Stars are Eternal So are You and I is an emotional tour de force, demanding rapt attention and devoted open-mindedness from its listener.
Coming from a similar perspective, Morceau Subrosa achieves an entirely different goal. Packaged as a single long-running track, Morceau Subrosa sees BT delve into pure, beatless ambient music: throughout its 47-minute duration, melodies are sparse and hard to come by, instead washed out in radiant filtered sound, deeply comforting, enveloping the listener like a warm blanket. Kicking off with Nicht Musik [Verklärung] No.2 in D major, BT showcases his impressive piano skills in a stunning composition with swirling filtered synthesizers in the background adding depth and atmosphere, inviting the listener to take a sonic journey. Fading away into the abyss, the next section of the piece features with plunky synthesizer exercises—reminiscent of the beginning of the album mix of The Emergency—swimming gracefully through a subtle backing of noise. Morceau Subrosa doesn’t try to convince anyone of ultimate truth or religious epiphany; it is music for meditation, for lovemaking, for reading, for exploration of the mind. It’s an atmospheric background for the most personal and revelatory moments of life.
I’ve been anticipating both of these albums since they were announced, and BT, keeping with form, has surpassed my expectations immensely. Morceau Subrosa, in particular, is quite unlike anything I’ve heard from this composition master, but both albums are radiant with emotion, technical production prowess, and utterly stunning songwriting. BT is first and foremost a composer, and I would say this is what makes his music so enrapturing. Following the release of these albums, later this year BT will unveil his new EDM project—the follow-up to the masterful These Hopeful Machines—as well as his 80s synthpop experiment with Christian Burns. As anxious as I am to hear what the most talented man in EDM has in store for us with these new albums, it’ll just have to wait—for now, I’m content getting lost in hours of ambient bliss. Check out a couple samples from If the Stars are Eternal So are You and I below, and be sure to pick up Morceau Subrosa on iTunes or get both albums on Amazon.
Click here to view If the Stars are Eternal So are You and I on Amazon!
Click here to view Morceau Subrosa on Amazon!
great review! we shd be able to get this on the official site
As far as I can tell, the track list on the case is incorrect. Hikari is still Hikari (now that iTunes has it available digitally, the tracks have the correct names).
Thank you! Let us know if you need any more information to put it on the site.
Hey Evan, thanks for that correction–I got the CD copy in the mail before it was available on iTunes, so the track listing from the iTunes server was incorrect. I’ve made that change!
I was super confused during my first couple of listens. Had the same problem. The order on the album art doesn’t match either. As someone who got Hikari as art of donating to the Red Cross for earthquake disaster relief, I knew something was wrong, and the Hikari Soundcloud stream reaffirmed my suspicion. 😉
I wasn’t entirely surprised that it was changed on the album–stranger last-minute alterations have occurred–but it definitely makes more sense that it was a printing/digital track list error rather than a name change 🙂