BT houses down

BT, with Crystal Method and DJ Taylor, The Club at Firestone, February 15, 1998

Producer Brian Eno once dismissed new-age music for not containing enough "doubt," while conveying a head-in-the-clouds attitude. That criticism is echoed by critics of certain styles of electronic dance music -- specifically the uplifting, emotion-rich epic/progressive house genre -- because of a tendency to deny anything less than a happy state of mind. Brian Transeau, the Maryland-based musician who records as BT, is an archetypal producer of epic house music. He is well-versed in the redundancies of suitelike, 10 minute-long songs with sweeping melodies and enough breakdowns, drum rolls and crescendos to exhaust a listener. Through initial singles like "Embracing the Future," tons of remixes (most notably Tori Amos' "Blue Skies"), and his own full-length debut, "Ima," BT has become an epic house icon. As expressed on his latest outing, "ESCM" (Electric Skychurch Music), he feels his music is a platform to fully realize all emotions -- not just happiness.

"I think it's important to not just cater to one part of yourself on an emotional level, and that's something I think I kind of found myself guilty of for a period of time," he explains. "I have angst and tension and stress and things that everyone has. The most wonderful way for musicians to purge themselves of the things that ail them is to let it out in music."

The classically trained Transeau embraced punk, industrial and electro-pop in his formative years, resulting in an eclectic background for him to draw from for his own music. He plays bass, guitar, drums and contributes vocals on the new album, which he describes as emotive and touching, with "really dark and angry moments." This is techno at its most musical, with a myriad of cool sounds for the listener to absorb.

While "ESCM" is still recognizably epic house, BT imports trance, jungle, synth-pop and breakbeat into the mix, creating a concoction uniquely his own. From the acid-drenched trance of "Flaming June" to "Lullaby for Gaia," a New Order-inspired track complete with Peter Hook-style bass guitar melodies, BT's vision is uninhibited. "I just really try not to lock myself into one way of thinking about how something's going to go," he says.

BT includes Orlando under the "respect and gratitude" section of "ESCM's" liner notes, explaining his enthusiasm for Central Florida. "I really respect the Orlando scene for being so supportive of electronic music. You guys have understood it from the beginning."