Muse - Black Holes & Butterflies (Fan Album)21 Sep 2017
And now, for something completely different.
I have an ongoing project of going through my considerable music library to isolate, rank and categorize its best tracks.
When the band Muse came under the microscope, I was very tempted to make a compilation of my favourite tracks; and so I did just that.
Muse occupies a special place in my musical pantheon. I realized a few years ago that I liked pretty much everything that they put out, which for me happens very rarely. I'm more inclined to listen to a hodge podge of individual tracks rather than to complete albums.
I wanted this compilation to feel like a real album. Therefore it had to have some kind of thematical consistency, some sense of continuity, and a pleasant pacing. Oh, and it had to fit on a 80 minutes CD! I'm pleased with the result, and I hope you can enjoy it too.
Without further ado, the album.
01. New Born 02. Starlight 03. MK Ultra 04. Unnatural Selection 05. Supremacy 06. Hysteria 07. Plug In Baby 08. Supermassive Black Hole 09. Map Of The Problematique 10. Butterflies & Hurricanes 11. Knights Of Cydonia 12. Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist 13. Time Is Running Out 14. Feeling Good
Now for some trivia about the making of the pie...
I gave the album the title Black Holes & Butterflies, a mash up of the track title Butterflies & Hurricanes and the album title Black Holes & Revelations (a line from the song Starlight). The title can be interpreted in many different ways, but doesn't really have any fixed meaning.
At some point, I hesitated to call the album Uprising, as the story told by the songs can be interpreted as a journey of dissension. However, Muse already has track called Uprising, which doesn't feature on this album. And in the end, the poetry of Black Holes & Butterflies quite rightfully won out.
Let's look at the tracks' original albums:
Black Holes & Revelations x4 (02, 08, 09, 11) Absolution x4 (06, 10, 12, 13) Origin of Symmetry x3 (01, 07, 14) The Resistance x2 (03, 04) The 2nd Law x1 (05)
If I had to make a ranking of my favourite Muse albums:
- Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
- Absolution (2003)
- Origin of Symmetry (2001)
- The Resistance (2009)
- Showbiz (1999)
- The 2nd Law (2012)
- Drones (2015)
This is more or less consistent with the songs' origin, with Drones not featuring at all. Muse's debut album Showbiz doesn't feature either. Thematically and musically, I feel it is rather distinct to the other albums: it's a bit as if it happened before Muse found it's own grandiose conspiracy-fueled self.
Now for some tracks I really like but that didn't make the cut:
- Bliss (Origin of Symmetry)
- Sing for Absolution (Absolution)
- Apocalypse Please (Absolution)
- Stockholm Syndrome (Absolution)
- Ruled By Secrecy (Absolution)
- United States of Eurasia (The Resistance)
- Follow Me (The 2nd Law)
- Panic Station (The 2nd Law)
- Dead Inside (Drones)
- Mercy (Drones)
For most of them, the reason is pretty simple: they didn't fit musically, thematically, or both.
Sing for Absolution is probably the track I would have liked to include most. While it's super powerful, the album isn't really about regrets, but more about strife. It always looks forward, not backward.
Apocalypse Please could have been included, but it's an ending track, and the ending is already strong, between Thoughts of a Dying Atheist and Time is Running Out. I was also keen to have Feeling Good as final track, to end on an ethereal fresh note. Nevertheless, this would definitely have been included if not for the time restriction.
Ruled by Secrecy would have been a strong contender if I needed a lull somewhere in the album (which would have made a lot of sense if it had been longer). Finally, Stockholm Syndrome would have blended in just fine, but it was just a weaker candidate all around.
I actually made two versions of the cover art: the one you can see on the youtube videos and just below, and the one towards the top of the article.
The one below I found by searching for pictures of black holes. I used it to upload the videos. But then I found the second picture, which depicts the butterfly nebula. I couldn't resist the fact that it linked both compoments of the album title, and it looks pretty neat too.