BT – These Hopeful Machines (2010)


Selected excerpts from the diary of Brian Transeau
: Today is the day This Binary Universe gets released.  Finally!  Really had to use all my gifts for this one.  I hope people listen to it with open ears.  I’ve never made music like this before in my life.  I don’t think anyone’s ever made music like this before.  The mags won’t know how to handle it.  Can’t wait.

09/05/06: Could not be more thrilled with the reviews of TBU.  Though it is frustrating how many people say “electronic musician BT”.  I think of myself as so much more than that.  Yes, it is a “music album”, but it’s also a feat of technology.  Nobody even mentioned the surround sound drum machine!  Maybe they just don’t know what that is.  Just think, in five years everyone will be using it.

09/06/06: Thinking about using the word “technomusiologist” in the next press release.  Pretty cool word.  Would be awesome to get that in the dictionary some day.

11/05/06: First day of my tour with Thomas Dolby.  My god, what an inspiration.  Him and I are really alike, when you think about it.  Enjoyed many philosophical conversations with him about human expression through the power of machine.  I hope my career stands testament to that, one day.

11/12/06:  Tom and I did a promotional photo shoot with our keyboards.  He held one from the show, while I held the Little Virtuoso Sing n’ Play from Little Tikes.  Very humorous!  This is a very important keyboard for me, as I first played it when I was 18 months old.  The timbre on this one sounds different.  I ripped the circuits out of that one when I was 4, hope my parents kept it in the basement.  Would really like to compare them.

05/03/07: Starting work on another album.  So grateful for the positive response to my last one, but I think it’s time to make people dance again.  How lame to be doing the same thing all the time.  Feels like watching the same movie over and over again.  Thinking back to the time I DJ’d the rainforest in the Congo River Basin for 20,000 people and how much energy we felt that day.  Yes, all the instruments were electronic, but the emotion was so, so real.  If only they knew what was possible.

05/06/07: Got some potential titles for the album:
The Source Code of Our Being
These Hopeful Machines
A Queue of Light’s Content
This Beautiful Equipoise
All That Makes Us Human Continues
(wait, did I use this one already?)

06/02/07: WOW!  Decided to pick up the guitar for the first time in months.  Dunno what flowed through me but I felt a tremendous outpouring of creativity and inspiration.  Wrote and transcribed a song called “The Emergency” in about 45 minutes.  Filled up three sheets of notebook paper.  Might want to change that “Today is the day that I love you” line though.  I know there are so many apps out there for this but I really love the feeling of taking a pen to paper.  I bet that Bach wrote some of his symphonies that way.  Can’t wait to take this into the studio tomorrow.  Feel so inspired right now.

12/15/07: Sorry I haven’t journaled lately, but I’m glad to report that “The Emergency” is finally finished.  It took about 1500 hours to sort through the hundreds of takes we did on every channel but I really think we’ve found something special.  I LOVE that the final cut is over ten minutes long, it really captures the scope I had in mind when I wrote it six months ago.  Really feel that ALL the songs should be like this.

03/07/08: Work on the new double album is progressing at a crazy pace.  Seems like I’m coming up with several ideas every single day.  Very difficult to figure out how exactly I’m going to fit every single one of them onto here.  Feel like this one’s going to be a double.

05/09/08: Remarked to a buddy the other day, “I wish I was born 20 years later, so I wouldn’t have to invent all the technology I want to use!”  He and I laughed really hard at that.

10/02/08: Starting to really get worried about the advent of Artificial Intelligence and the day it becomes on par with human intelligence. Would it replicate itself to form a super-computer, the likes of which we have never seen?  And if it does, will it see us humans as something worth keeping around?  I only hope those responsible for programming it ensure that such a superintelligence would never want to destroy us.  But what sort of rules would you program into the thing?  Spent all day thinking about it.  I hope whoever invents that reaches out to me.

03/15/09: Wondering how I can increase the “human element” on this record as I worry such detailed production is going to make it sound too cold and calculated.  Since I really love that sound that your fingers make when they scrape the guitar strings on the fret board, I think I’m going to make that the loudest sound on the album.  Very human.

03/26/09: Wrote a bunch of new lyrics this morning and went into the studio to record them myself. Thought of a lyric that feels so true to life to me right now: “Love can kill you…or love can save us all”. Feel so lucky to have all this love in my life.

05/06/09: Stewart Copeland came by the studio today!  TOTAL.  FREAKIN.  LEGEND.  He recorded some parts for “Every Other Way” and I can’t wait to figure out how I’m going to get them in the final mix.  Talked to him a bit about granular rhythmic construction and how to emulate a non-linear drum pattern by using rhythm gating in Ableton.  Showed him my plugin for stuttering triplets down to the 1024th notes.  He just shrugged.  Drummers, LOL!  Can’t figure out if Ghost in the Machine or Synchronicity is my favorite Police record.

07/02/09: Had a curious thought today – did Stevie Wonder become one of the greatest musicians of our era in spite of his blindness, or was it because of his blindness?  Spent the day blindfolded in the studio and sat over by the synthesizers to do some overdubs on “La Nocturne de Lumiere”.  Unfortunately I wrote over the master file; the ultimate in “destructive editing”!  Some real beauty in chaos today.

10/05/09: I’ve spent the last three months recording and mastering the rain sound that ends “Every Other Way”.  First I recorded the rain falling through the leaves of an Oak tree but the sound felt too bumpy and unrefined.  Decided to travel around the country to record rain falling through different species of trees to find the sound I liked best, only to discover the best was the good ol’ Pine.  Spent so much time nano-correcting all the samples but it was all worth it.  Really thought it was raining in the studio on the last playback.

12/28/09: Just saw Avatar in the theater.  Oh my God!  Tears in my eyes – totally inspiring.  James Cameron is a genius.  I’d love to work with him someday.

01/04/10: Finishing up the final details for the album.  Seeing as both halves are a 61+-4cab4wLcomplete musical journey I think I’ll just release it as two full tracks.  Nah, maybe not.

02/01/10: Bouncing off the walls.  Can’t believe tomorrow’s the day everyone gets to hear These Hopeful Machines.  I really want to remain humble about all this but there is some part of me that believes that I’ve created a masterpiece.  Perhaps even the greatest album ever made.  Maybe I’ll even win a Grammy!


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