Brian Transeau has always mixed things up—in a good way. Movement in Still Life is no exception, as the electronic guru known as BT plays successfully with various styles of music and sounds. The hit “Never Gonna Come Back Down” is as good as anything on Moby’s much-celebrated Play. The track features the funky vocal stylings of Michael Doughty of Soul Coughing paired with glorious live guitar, bass and breakneck beats. The comical vocals are electronically slurred to perfect imperfection: “We are here to save the ERF!” The title track, structured around a sample of Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message,” features breakbeat master Peanut Butter Wolf and showcases the magic of the analog synthesizer. To expand the diversity even farther, “Shame” and “Satellite” feature live guitar, bass and drums, as well as vocals by BT himself. His vocals are as good as those of any Euro-pop band’s, and “Satellite” even recalls the sound of Radiohead’s The Bends. The lyrical prose of “Shame” is pleasantly eerie: “Still smell the fear…Frozen wall like teenage skin.”
The remainder of the disc finds BT in more familiar territory: “Godspeed” is a true trance anthem while “Mercury & Solace” features a simple and beautiful vocal by singer Jan Johnston: “Awareness, the fruit of life…the dance never ends.” And with these tracks, you never want it to. “Running Down the Way Up,” one of the highlights of the album, features Kristy Hawkshaw of Opus 3 on lead vocals. Co-produced by Hybrid, the track begins with a folky acoustic guitar and builds into a euphoric dreamscape with filtered vocals: “The lower centers in me revolve around…The visible effect runs through my blood.” Hawkshaw is also featured on the infectious “Dreaming,” with its bouncy marble effects and “We’ll Go Dreaming” melody. It’s been said that BT intended to make an album that sounds like a mixtape. With Movement in Still Life, he has done much more than that. Like Moby, BT unleashes an abundance of musical influences within the typically confining space of techno. The album belongs up there with Play, as rules get broken and re-written and boundaries are forever discarded.