BT – These Hopeful Machines
Another of my favourite albums from 2010.
BT has always been difficult to categorise musically and, certainly in the UK at least, is something less than a household name. But that might change as his latest album, These Hopeful Machines has been greeted by massive critical acclaim and even nominated for a Grammy Award. It’s a double album where each track blends seamlessly into the next and with many of the tracks clocking in at around the 10 minute mark it’s sailing dangerously close to Prog Rock concept album.
It isn’t just the music that’s outstanding, but the cover artwork as well. A fantastic painting by Jasinski with really beautiful, vivid colours and lovely brushwork which is only really appreciated when you buy the CD and unfold the massive cover for yourself…
They also took the unusual step of using different sections of the larger artwork for each of the singles released from the album – a great idea that I don’t recall ever seeing before.
But back to the music…
Opening track Suddenly sets the tone for the rest of the album, an 8 minute epic blending BT’s signature cut up beats with rock guitars and catchy choruses that catch you unawares.
One of the standout tracks, Forget Me, nearly brings tears to your eyes when, towards the end of the track, BT’s 5 year old daughter starts to sing, repeating the chorus over a tinkling nursery rhyme style backing track. Beautiful.
It’s not an immediate album, in fact on first listen I felt slightly disappointed, but it’s a real grower, rewarding each repeated listen with some new sonic delights. In fact BT is often referred to as a ‘sonic architect’ and, although slightly pretentious, it’s not a bad description. There’s nothing as simple as verse-chorus-verse here but rather songs that build and build and each time an element is repeated it’s not simply the same as before but better.
If you’ve not come across BT before some of his earlier albums might be more instantly accessible but These Hopeful Machines is an album created by an artist that’s been maturing for years. I eagerly await the next one.