Continuing to alternate between glitchy ambient instrumentals and progressive vocal house with each release, Brian Transeau, aka BT, now returns to the latter more club-oriented sound for his ninth studio album, A Song Across Wires.
With EDM having stamped its dominance over the dance scene since his last commercial effort, 2010’s Grammy-nominated These Hopeful Machines, the Maryville producer often attempts to beat the likes of Skrillex and Deadmau5 at their own game, with the lurching bass wobbles of “Letting Go,” the pounding trance-rock of “Tomahawk” and the thunderous brostep of “Calling Your Name” quite obviously designed with the whole fratboy scene in mind.
But elsewhere, BT sticks to what he knows best – swirling multi-layered synths, feather-light vocal melodies and quasi-spiritual lyrics which could have been lifted from Eat, Pray, Love. A Song Across Wires, therefore, can often feel a little over-familiar, particularly on the obligatory atmospheric instrumental opener “Skylarking” and the ‘live for the moment’ floorfiller of “Tonight.”
There are a couple of moments which lift the record above its default AutoPilot setting, but they are few and far between. “Must Be The Love” begins with some intriguing SBTRKT-esque percussion before former iiO vocalist Nadia Ali helps to guide the track to an anthemic “hands in the air” crescendo. Elsewhere, “Surrounded” utilises the emotive tones of piano man Aqualung to prove that the Swedish House Mafia lot no longer have the monopoly on soaring yet strangely melancholic electro-house.
Indeed, part half-hearted attempt to join the EDM revolution and part BT-by-numbers, A Song Across Wires is a slightly muddled affair which suggests one of the original superstar DJs is no longer sure where he fits in amongst the new elite.