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BT - Mad Skillz BT

Album Reviews

VH1 Movement In Still Life Album Review

Good news. BT (aka Brian Transeau) has given us a dance album so broad in scope, you won't have to lose sleep over where to file it in your record collection. House, trance, hip-hop, drum and bass - they're all blended into the big picture here. Each track is standing room only with different styles, absolutely saturated in layers of rhythm, without sacrificing the pleasantries of the hook. Heck yeah - you can sing along. BT cares enough about a good melody to prevent these heady beats from dissolving into one another like techno wallpaper.

You can blame BT's pedigree for all this diversity. His compositions have spread into film (the rave culture odyssey Go), video games (PlayStation's hit "Die Hard"), and even the Millennium Dome for London's New Year's Eve blowout. Quite a stretch from the dark clubs where he cut his teeth with anthems like "Blue Skies" and "Flaming June."

As he made his rise from the underground scene, BT stretched his sonic aptitude with remixing gigs for mainstream folks like Tori Amos, Seal, and Madonna. He must have found something he liked deep within all that pop, 'cuz he's brought it with him - however skewed - into Movement in Still Life. Exhibit No. 1: The beat poet cadence of M. Doughty is skillfully floated over killer flange waves in "Never Gonna Come Back Down," (Click here to hear the song) somehow rendering his voice more musical than it ever was in Soul Coughing - even as it unravels into the growl of an auctioneer with a blown speaker. Exhibit No. 2: BT himself steps to the mike for the first time and delivers "Shame," a thick, plaintive ditty that Crowded House might have cranked out in 1986 with a little help from the deep ringing basslines of the Pixies' Kim Deal.

This pop flirting doesn't always hit the mark. "Satellite" is a near-saccharine acoustic power ballad that resorts to stock samples of astronaut dialogue. But count on BT to save his integrity by dropping some serious science. Check the hyper-scratch acrobatics of "Madskillz" and "Smartbomb" as it morphs into 21st century P-Funk with all the punch of Saving Private Ryan's Normandy sequence.

According to the album's opening track, "God gave us words, wisdom, sound, power." But not everybody knows what to do with these gifts. BT uses them in just the right combination.

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