BT

10 Years in the Life (Reprise)

In the liner notes to this retrospective, Brian Transeau (BT) comes off as the Yanni of DJs. Looking like a prettier version of Kato Kaelin, he writes that he was inspired by long walks and the work of Deepak Chopra. Among his influences, he cites Depeche Mode and Debussy. He seems to come from a relatively privileged Maryland background; he dismisses his classical training, but he makes sure you know he has it.

But though his music might be airy, it seldom sounds lightweight. His remix of Tori Amos' "Blue Skies" makes his New Age sister sound street-tough; his range is impressive not only for its diversity but also for its brilliance in different settings. Transeau makes sense out of the storm of uproarious noise, then crafts an understated melody and arrangement. Typically, three or four dark keyboard riffs do battle before each changes tone and switches places. Transeau might come from some unlikely Jon and Vangelis wing of hip-hop, but when he makes it work -- which is often -- it's exhilarating.

 
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