BT
ESCM


4.5
superb

Review

by parksungjoon USER (3 Reviews)
March 30th, 2018 | 81 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On his sophomore album, trance pioneer Brian Transeau manages to make his trademark sound more diverse and accessible without compromising on the quality.

Brian Transeau should need no introduction for trance fans or even general electronic music enthusiasts. Throughout the early ‘90s he created and co-created a variety of tunes under a number of different names and projects and went on to achieve moderate success in the UK club scene. But his first substantial breakthrough would come with the 1995 release of Ima, an album many would argue remains his greatest and most recognizable achievement to this day. Trance music had been around for a number of years in some form or another, and indeed Transeau himself had contributed to its development in his early career, but Ima marked the first big release that would start to shape the genre into the forms listeners are most familiar with today.

So how does one follow up a record of such magnitude" In BT’s case, he chose to continue innovating. His second album ESCM or Electric Sky Church Music, released in 1997, sees the artist polish and streamline the sound that made his debut album so successful, while also branching out into a number of other genres and styles. It’s this variety that makes it such a landmark album both within BT’s discography and the genre in general, rather than being a mere retread (or worse, a strictly inferior watered down version) of his previous album.

Make no mistake, this record still has progressive trance bangers such as ”Orbitus Teranium”, “Nectar”, “Content” and especially the classic anthem that is “Flaming June”, all of which showcase Transeau’s mastery of trance songwriting and composition. It also has a couple of brilliant, more relaxed vocal-driven tracks featuring the superb voice of Jan Johnston: the lush and sensual “Lullaby for Gaia”, as well as “Remember” which is sure to please any fan of uplifting trance.

But there certainly is more to this album than just trance. The opener “Firewater”, not unlike “Blue Skies” from his previous offering, features a powerful but strangely immersive vocal approach on top of a laidback breakbeat rhythm. “Love, Peace and Grease” is a more straightforward tune whose similar percussion wouldn’t feel out of place on a Chemical Brothers record. Then we have “The Road to Lostwithiel” and “Memories in a Sea of Forgetful” which clearly show that BT is just as comfortable in composing atmospheric and entrancing Drum ‘n’ Bass tunes as he is with his usual trance fare.

If there’s one moment where the man’s prodigious desire to experiment and push the boundaries falls flat, it would be the middle track “Solar Plexus” whose industrial leanings and use of heavy distortion stick out like a bit of a sore thumb, despite the track itself not being particularly bad. Still, this single misstep notwithstanding, it’s remarkable how well Transeau manages to blend these different styles of electronic music together while maintaining a cohesive atmosphere and feel all throughout.

All in all, ESCM is about as good of a follow-up album as we could reasonably expect. If Ima could not be topped, then the way forward must be to expand and diversify around it. So we have a blend of the new with the familiar, a record that is more interesting and varied, if not quite as monolithically awe-inspiring. ESCM certainly showcases itself as a standout album in BT’s mighty discography, in the trance genre and in electronic music as a whole.


user ratings (66)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

summary: if you enjoyed Ima there is literally no reason not to hear this right now

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

big shout outs to ipodmastery/rob g and jacquibim for helping with proofreading and advice



mild shout out to sinternet for giving this a correct rating and knowing good electronic

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i know im super rusty but this was in dire need of a review, even if mine might not do it full justice

Ocean of Noise
March 30th 2018


10645 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review for an album that much deserved it. Just one small comment: your summary is a bit wordy. Try just "On his sophomore album, trance pioneer Brian Transeau manages to make his trademark sound more diverse and accessible without compromising on the quality."



Otherwise it reads great. Props for reviewing this. Have a pos.

Digging: Gas - Knigsforst

MotokoKusanagi
March 30th 2018


1802 Comments


haven't jammed BT in ages, used to listen to Ima fairly regularly back in the day. got this queue'd up

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ill acquiesce that ocean, thanks



anyone who wants to hear his pre-ima stuff btw:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlcO5Lukc2I



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb4BjEWoDDk



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMl7nrAKfDs

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

one of his numerous collabs from that era:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpQvN0q8jUo

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

forgot to add chicane to the recs in the sidebar



lol its nice editing reviews without shit fucking up, i remember there was a time when that wasnt guaranteed

MotokoKusanagi
March 30th 2018


1802 Comments


oh I didn't realize Flaming June was on here, that's a classic

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

co-produced by paul van dyk iirc



monster of a choon that one

MotokoKusanagi
March 30th 2018


1802 Comments


not a huge fan of this style / era but that Chicane album is good, same with Behind the Sun

MotokoKusanagi
March 30th 2018


1802 Comments


for me with this sort of thing there is a very fine line between fun poppy prog trance, and a straight up cheese fest. when you start adding in vocals it can really push me towards the cheese side of things lol

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"not a huge fan of this style / era"



u mean escm?

MotokoKusanagi
March 30th 2018


1802 Comments


yeah just not big no trance in general. early BT, Chicane, that Sasha and John Digweed comp and a few others I'm probably forgetting, besides those I don't really listen at all

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

see the thing is i completely agree with what you're saying about cheese, but i think on this album the use of vocals is just plain better and not as cynical comapred to what the genre would become in the 2000s



Sinternet
March 30th 2018


19416 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

godly review for godly album good job my man

Digging: Peggy Gou - Moment

MotokoKusanagi
March 30th 2018


1802 Comments


"see the thing is i completely agree with what you're saying about cheese, but i think on this album the use of vocals is just plain better and not as cynical comapred to what the genre would become in the 2000s"

sorry I didn't mean this album in particular, the vocals is just a complaint I have with a lot of trance in general

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bless

parksungjoon
March 30th 2018


9399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yea no i get you man and i tend to agree

MotokoKusanagi
March 30th 2018


1802 Comments


i used to dig really early Tiesto and Armin Van buuren. Just Be by Tiesto was a good album



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