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JB Hi-Fi STACK October 2012

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Anyone who caught Muse’s performance of Survival at the London Olympics might have sniffed a change in the wind; the official song of the games hinted a new electronic direction.


While the band’s beloved attributes remain intact – Matt Bellamy’s trademark post-glam vocal dramatics are piled on aplenty – new self-produced album The 2nd Law draws a definite line under the band’s career to date. Bellamy’s guitar gets a workout on a few tracks, but the under riding tone of The 2nd Law comes via the epic sweep of 35-piece orchestras, brass ensembles, choirs and orchestration.


Working with composer David Campbell, the band have pulled off one of music’s harder tricks; fundamental sonic change with remaining resolutely and recognisably themselves. Songs like Liquid State and Follow Me are recognisably Muse, albeit with a vague post dubstep influence.


And while The 2nd Law hints at being that heaving beast ‘the concept album’, it hardly bashes the listener over the head. It’s Muse 101: elation, a journey, peaks, experimentation and exhilaration.


Opener Supremacy, all strings and over-arching vocals from Bellamy, is a grand opening to an album that makes no apologies for its very grandiosity.


“A lot of the sounds came from a lot of experimenting, particularly the electronics stuff,” Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme tells STACK. “Electronic music just seems to evolve so quickly: obviously; it evolves with technology – which is also evolving very quickly.”


The two tracks that round the album out, 2nd Law Unsustainable and 2nd Law Isolated System, bomb the listener with disembodied samples from around the contemporary media landscape, railing that “new energy cannot be created”.


And here lies the album’s central message, it’s raison d’être; the reference to French scientist Sadi Carnot’s Second law of Thermodynamics – essentially that flagrant use of resources and obsession with growth doesn’t work. In a nutshell: exhausting energy through overuse will leave you nothing.


“The whole 2nd Law thing that runs through the album... I don’t think there’s any song that’s got a direct delivery about The 2nd Law,” says Wolstenholme carefully.


“I think there’s lots of subtle references: the financial crisis has been an influence, and the kind of obsession with endless growth and how it is all unsustainable. The last two songs, they’re very much a summing up of the album and I think if ever there was a time to be direct, that was it. It’s a newsreader, and the reason we want to get a newsreader is because there’s nothing more direct than a newsreader who tells you point-blank direct facts that are usually negative.”


Another track that plays into the idea of using the planet’s gradually encroaching chaos as a sonic basis for the songs is the spidery, melodic, reflective Animals; also one of the album’s few junctures allowing Bellamy to really stretch on guitar.


“It stemmed into this kind of media chaos that was going on in the background on Animals, where you’ve got all the stock-market traders all going crazy,” says Wolstenholme. “It was a good way to reflect the chaos that’s going on.”


The other over-arching influence on the new album is that of composer David Campbell. The American musician has worked with both Radiohead and U2 in the past, and is the father of a rather popular artist we know as Beck.


After Bellamy prepared initial score ideas and showed them to Campbell in the US, he took the project on. “It was day two or three I clocked on that he was Beck’s dad. Now it’s like ‘how the hell did I not realise?’ Because he looks exactly like him!” laughs Wolstenholme.


“By the time David became involved there was already a score, it was just the practicality of translating that to a proper orchestra. Not only did he do the orchestra, but all the brass as well. Brass was brand new for us, we’d never done brass before. And the choir was something we’d never done before, and to be honest, one part of the album that really blew my mind when we recorded it.


“I remember coming out of that session buzzing, because to hear 35 people singing like that, so tight, all in time, was just absolutely amazing. When you sit in a room with 35 people singing a huge chorus, it kind of brings tears to your eyes, you know.”


And with that, Wolstenholme signs off. He’s preparing for European and American tours that will take up the next 12 months, though he does say an Australian visit is likely “Next year some time... definitely next year.”




The video clip for Madness is a shady, claustrophobic rush though a riot-torn cityscape. Uniformed police smash down doors and chaos ensues. Wolstenholme says the clip came as a complete surprise, with director Anthony Mandler delivering an interpretation the band hadn’t expected.


“He picked up on the lyrics. It’s a bit of a twisted love song, it talks about how you can be in love with somebody and the kind of chaos that it brings to your life, but how ultimately the love you have for somebody can protect you from chaos as well. He wanted to have all these rioters going on, and all this chaos and madness, then you’ve got a couple playing out this love story, who are completely oblivious to everything going on around them.”


Wolstenholme says the band are usually far from enamoured with their own clips. “Most of ours are fu*ken sh*t!” he laughs.“ Every time we get the video treatment, we spend hours talking about it. We were in New York recently talking about it. I turned around to the guys and went, ‘don’t worry... it’s just going to be another sh*t video’, but it wasn’t at all! He really nailed it.”



There's also a review in the actual magazine. Anyone picked that up yet?

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How did Survival hint at an electronic direction at all?


"Anyone who caught Muse’s performance of Survival at the London Olympics might have sniffed a change in the wind; the official song of the games hinted a new electronic direction."



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Can you laugh at him anyways?





:chuckle: Some of them are pretty bad. I like the music vids for KoC and Hyper Music, but that's about it. :$


I think the Dead Star video is pretty decent. Nothing special but decent. And I must be the only person in the world that despises the music video for KoC :p

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Actually, I quite like those videos...I was referring to the videos for the three singles from Resistance, NSC as well as both T2L songs.


I wish we could've gotten a concept video for Survival


I think they could have a great video if they got Chris to walk around and destroy robots and stuff. Give him some acting lessons beforehand though

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