::ZEROES, ONES, AND EVERYTHING BETWEEN::
The first I knew of BT
was on a CD cover Pennington had -- but I don't remember ever knowingly hearing his stuff. But Austin saw a flyer at Gachet and a poster at Cafe Brazil, and the robot head pretty much cinched it for both of us:
The invitation read, "ATTENTION ALL DIGERATI, LITERATI, COGNOSCENTI FILM FANS, MUSIC FANS AND FRIENDS, BT REQUESTS THE HOMOR OF YOUR RAREFIED CONSCIOUSNESS..." Last Wednesday, August 30, at the Inwood theater, we were treated to an "epochal evening of sight and sound." BT held a release party for his new CD/DVD This Binary Universe
, and for $20, we got a copy of the CD/DVD, a screening of it, and a Q & A with BT.
The first track, "All That Makes Us Human Continues," was composed entirely in code. (this endeared me to BT immediately). Its corresponding animation, an amorphous and also code-produced treat, reminded me a lot of the opening overture in Dancer in the Dark
, in which a painting almost imperceptibly shifts from one image to another. In this one, straight lines converge into curves, and like some larger-than-life digital Rorschach, the images seem to resolve periodically into shapes -- hair, or a dress, or a bridge truss, or a torso -- the nature of which you're never really sure.
Other tracks feature toppling dichotomies -- father/child, animal/machine, nature/technology, singular/communal -- which resolve into anything but a binary universe. A mechanized dragonfly creature glides effortlessly through the atmosphere, while birds flap their wings, glitchily, to fly towards an enchanted island. "1.618," an ode to the Golden Mean, features lacquered, stylized orchids and vines. A sketched boy waters his garden to discover a secret passageway into a robot's lair where it strives to bring a fish to life. BT elegizes his daughter, Kaia, in the last track, and as words scroll across the screen and orchestral music samplingly swells, it's clear he feels he owes his existence as a man to this learning, miraculous person.
After the screening, he talked splendidly and charismatically about many things, from chaos and number theory in music, to the effect of his childhood's soundscape (the annoyance and inspiration he drew from a grandfather clock, specifically); from his evolution as an artist to the fact that his home is "one giant hard drive," from serendipity to how much being a dad has affected his life, my end thought about BT is: This guy's a genius.
At one point, his daughter came up onstage, babbling and talking to him as he spoke into the mike. He picked her up with one arm, put the microphone in her face, and she immediately ceased all noise. A few beats later, she whispered -- and the mike amplified it through the whole theater -- "i'mshy." Best part of the night, right there.
Now, I have to buy all his music, if for no other reason than to support him.
And then how lovely that the next day, an article about childhood cognitive responses to music
and a review of a cryptological jazz album
hit the web. Serendipity. Yep.