Thursday, September 30, 2004

Faith, Religion & Aliens

[quote, inlay by Butch Gordon from "Origin Of Symmetry"]


Interesting topic here [quote, taken from several board members and myself - official Muse Board]. I guess for me, Matt Bellamy (since he's the sole lyricist) is definitely questioning his belief. Definitely from a dark, moody and sombre mood (I wouldn't say anti-religion/Christian, not even his admission on "Megalomania") from "Origin Of Symmetry" to the much lighter (but rockier) "Absolution", there is a common theme. "Apocalypse Please" deals with oppression and the cry out to God to come down and bring an end to this world/mess - or help this world from complete destruction. It is quite evident that Matt is questioning, if a God exists, then He must give us (Bellamy) a miracle.

From Rock Sound Magazine
The singer's religious beliefs are a continuing inner debate played out throughout the bands discography, and most recently "Apocalypse Please" from the latest opus, which deals with 'the relationship between you and your religious fanaticism.' The source of much scientific and spiritual questioning, Bellamy is currently non-religious, but all that could change.

"I don't really know what I believe, my belief changes every five minutes, that's the problem," he concedes. "The reason why it all comes out in the music is that music is the place where I think about all that stuff. I keep thinking about it because I cant settle on anything. It does worry me. I don't know what I'm going to do when I die; you've got to go somewhere. If you can't do that, you just panic. Making music is some kind of placement for that area; it's the only thing that makes me feel something beyond what is there.''

"I feel the same," admits the drummer. "None of us are really religious people and I think, if anything, it's more of a confusion thing and not really knowing what to believe in. It's all about feeling comfortable if you have to face death, feeling like you are going onto somewhere else. I don't have any strong beliefs in any religious way."

''I think no one feels they have to believe until they are faced with something of a hard nature, if life's okay then they don't need to believe," adds Bellamy. "If you were faced with something like cancer then it would be a whole different ball game."

Having said that, Bellamy does have a plausible explanation of origin that's more Von Daniken (author of "Chariots of the Gods"), than Darwin. "I think our DNA was mixed with a species of outer space and apes......" and off he goes on his theory of evolution. Bless him.

Bellamy was referring to the fact he didn't have a religious upbringing, and thus music has become his "religion". But my guess is, he was referring to the fact that playing music brings him "higher" to the source of life. Perhaps he's talking about his uplifting of his spirit or soul, in connection to his maker. It's interesting to hear the compensation he had to go through, in order to get to a place where he feels closer to God [or the source of life]. It's interesting because I'm not sure if he has any kind of Christian teachings or experience in a religion to make that comparison. It just goes to show the reality of Christianity, and how deeply rooted it is within our lives as human beings.

Also, in one of his recent interviews, Bellamy has been known to say that he loves listening to operatic /choral music - generally from the Romantic or the Renaissance period -

"I do love rock music, but when I hear that Romantic stuff, it sounds like the meaning of life," he says, passionately. "It's as though the composers were using the peak of their intelligence to express the deepest of emotions. And this gives me hope. When I hear choirs singing that Palestrina stuff, I think, there is a God - there is a heaven!"

Interestingly, composers weren't just using their peak of their intelligence to express their deepest of emotions, but also their faith in God. The romantic period of music has been often linked as the bridge to Christianity (due to the feelings, the emotions and love predominantly being the central theme of "romanticism"). Also, German poets, such as Friedrich Schlegel declared that romanticism was a product of Christianity. And I guess when Bellamy hears "Palestrina stuff", there is a deep soul connection with the music and this God. Only he will know what he feels or thinks and if there is a connection with God! As a side point, most of the chorales were composers trying to mimic the "choirs of angels" in heaven!

Commentary [edited] - by Brendan Boughen

Hail the new kings of agnostic rock! Sounding like equal parts Radiohead, Coldplay and Jeff Buckley but with a distinctively bombastic classical bent, Muse are the latest Brit-rock export sensations alongside The Darkness to dazzle international audiences. However, while the latter band drains the 'camp' barrel to the dregs, Muse manages to weave a decidedly serious philosophical thread through their complex, Romantic compositions.

The regular use of exuberant classical piano amidst the fuzzy guitar and bass raises the music to greater heights. And believe it or not, Muse are a trio. How they can get this much texture and depth to these songs with such aplomb astonishes me. In concert, Bellamy reported jumps from instrument to instrument to achieve the massive sounds, and it is perhaps this urgent, plate-spinning musicality that also demands that the pauses in between his lyrics are desperate gasps for air, rather than gentle breaths. Indeed, lyrically, Bellamy is a terrified paranoid prophet screaming in the wilderness that the end of the world is nigh. This is certainly prefigured in the vision of the Biblical Rapture depicted on the cover. (I suspect Bellamy imagines he would be left behind in such an event.)

Nevertheless, he screams his message loud and clear:

"Declare this an emergency, Come on and spread a sense of urgency, And pull us through, This is the end of the world. It's time we saw a miracle, Come on, it's time for something Biblical, To pull us through, This is the end of the world. Proclaim eternal victory, Come on and change the course of history, And pull us through, This is the end of the world"

[quote, "Apocalypse Please"]

With the pounding piano and soaring vocal of this opening track, Bellamy also begins a manic conversation with the divine. As an admitted atheist, it's fascinating that his obsession with religion and God is so prevalent. Bellamy is being very specific in singling out Christianity. It's the only faith that calls on miracles, being Biblically based, and having eternal victory [ed].

Through almost every track, clues are laid down to the tumultuous spiritual path Bellamy seems to be walking.

"There's nowhere left to hide, in no-one to confide. The truth burns deep inside and will never die. Sing for absolution, I will be singing and falling from your grace. Lips are turning blue, A kiss that can't renew, I only dream of you my beautiful. Our wrongs remain unrectified, And our souls won't be exhumed"

[quote, "Sing for Absolution"]

"It's bugging me, grating me and twisting me around. Yeah I'm endlessly caving in and turning inside out 'Cause I want it now, I want it now. Give me your heart and soul, And I'm breaking out, I'm breaking out. Give me your complete control, And I want you now, I want you now. I'll feel my heart implode, Escaping now, feeling my faith erode"

[quote, "Hysteria"]

After describing himself as "the priest God never paid" in "The Small Print", Bellamy drives the album to its penultimate song "Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist", in which a deathbed conversion tethers on the brink of a lifetime of rationality.

"Eerie whispers trapped beneath my pillow, Won't let me sleep, your memories I know you're in this room, I'm sure I heard you sigh. Floating in between where our worlds collide I know the moments near and there's nothing we can do, Look through a faithless eye Are you afraid to die? It scares the hell out of me, And the end is all I can see"

[quote, "Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist"]

Fear of death does not hold Christians down. Not even death could hold Jesus down. Once again, Bellamy is questioning about life after death. He knows when the moment arises, will there be a place for him? Does the very thought of dying bring up something called "faith" in him? Or does it bring up fear? You decide [ed].

Musically, this is a truly stunning album that incorporates grand classical impressions against a backdrop of postmodern grunge-pop. It is utterly unpredictable, as intense metal riffing gives way to lilting piano arpeggios and then drops to the floor again with massive crunching chords. It will survive many, many listens and never bore. Lyrically, it is a bright glimpse of a seemingly tortured soul that glories in the passion of life as much as it writhes in existential turmoil. This gives the music a vitality that, in my mind, contemporary Christian music never comes close to matching for all its surety. So, muse along with Muse and challenge yourself to struggle along with them. I guarantee it will be a rewarding trip.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Future of Muse

As Matt sits quietly behind his piano, he drops this revelation -

"I’ve got one song that has definitely gone further, a fair bit further! I’m not sure how it’s going to be recorded. I think it’s a new category of epicness! - Matt Bellamy

But a lot of the stuff is a bit more stripped down, a bit more minimal and a bit more exposed as a three-piece band. I think it’s something we always try to do, but something happens and we just get carried away and it all just goes kind of overboard. I think there’s just this in-built thing in us that is always likely to take something to its furthest extreme. And I think we’re always trying to taper that with pulling back and being more minimal in our arrangements. With what we do there’ll always be that contradiction within songs and within albums between minimal straightforward stuff and ridiculously complex stuff."

Shortly before jetting off to Australia for yet more dates, Matt Bellamy took time to tell about their future plans – and revealed that their new songs have taken unlikely inspiration from The Strokes.

He said: "They sound like a heavier version of The Strokes I suppose. They’re not necessarily tracks that would make it onto the next album. We’re working on a lot of different tracks, but usually the stuff we play live early doesn’t make it onto the album, but I think we need to start moving forward and start playing some new stuff, whatever it is."Matt explained the unlikely link between Muse and his favourite New Yorkers. He said "I really like the fast tempo and really melodic stuff. I don’t think people would ever hear that within our songs because we’re a different style, but I think there’s some really strong melodies and some of that has really stuck with me."

But fans of the big music can rest assured that the UK’s premier space-rockers aren’t about to turn into a garage band.

[quote, extract from interview 16.09.04]

Interestingly, there has been several quotes from the band during 2004 about the possibilities of a new album. Still fresh from touring Australia and New Zealand, Muse have not previewed any new songs, but merely teasing us with tantilising riffs. Well known for showcasing new songs or songs-in-progress in Europe and Japan, Muse have kept their new music confined to the group.

"We’re supporting The Cure in America, touring Australia, going back to America… then we’re having a break. I don’t know if we’ll make another record. Maybe we’ll disappear" - Matt Bellamy.

It was this statement that shocked fans all across the world. Matt was interviewed on Q Magazine [05.07.04] after the Glastonbury concert and there was talk that their "bombastic" rock will be thrown out. But fear not - music will always prevail, and the inside news is, a new album is in the works and will be come out next year.

Fingers crossed for a new era of "epicness!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Release the Butterflies

Release the butterflies...

Muse's new single 'Butterflies & Hurricanes' came out in UK on the 20th September. However, FMR Australia has confirmed that there will be no release of this brilliant single, due to the lateness of receiving "parts". Anyway, this new recording of the track is available on CD, DVD & 7". The CD single comes complete with new U-Myx technology which allows you to remix 'Butterflies & Hurricanes' and then log on to the internet to save your mix and enter an exclusive competition. The best mix, as judged by the band, will win an iPod mini! Full track listing is as follows -

Butterflies & Hurricanes / Sing For Absolution [Radio 2 acoustic] / U-Myx software

Butterflies & Hurricanes / Butterflies & Hurricanes [Live at Glastonbury 2004]

Butterflies & Hurricanes [Audio] / Butterflies & Hurricanes [Video] / The raw video edit / "The Groove in the States" - ten minute docomentary of the band in the US

Friday, September 24, 2004

Wolstenholme? Christopher Tony Wolstenholme? Cheers!

Nicknamed "Cheers", Chris-with-the-complicated-surname Wolstenholme is one-third of Muse, holding the fort [somewhat] on bass guitar. Even though Chris comes up strong with some of the heaviest, craziest bass riff as song openings [think "Hysteria" and "Time Is Running Out"], it is a known fact that Chris plays several instruments. He began first with the guitar, then the drums and later on the bass, which he felt more at ease with. He even came to play the double bass for a while on stage with Muse, as seen in the music video clip to "Unintended".

Chris was inspired to a career in music from the music lessons he had as a child. His first band, at the tender age of 13 was "Fixed Penalty" and Chris played the drums. It was only a few years after did Matt and Dom pinched Chris for their new trio, "Rocket Baby Dolls" to play bass and backup vocals. And the rest is history.

This marked an era in British music, with the dawn of "Britpop" exploding onto the musical stage, Matt, Dom and Chris turn their backs and focus on American bands such as Primus, The Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Rage Against The Machine, Nirvana. It was these influences that significantly marked their youth and music. Only one British exception was notable: Radiohead. "The Bends" and "Nevermind" from Nirvana certainly being THE two quintessential albums altering their musical concepts.

It was at this stage that especially Chris, with Dom's support and Matt's blinding vision, that they finally found found within themselves a real sense of innovation, authenticity, and a deeply personal exploration that made them unique, diametrically opposing them to the simple exercise of imitation the Britpop possessed. Rapidly renaming themselves to Muse, the three friends now had an agenda and instead of an escape and sense of rejection of their cultural, social and geographical background; music becomes a passion, a way of expressing themselves. And the rest is history.

Chris is so far the only band member to be married with two children, giving him a more mature and sensible image than those of his two "cronnies".


[quote, biography extract from and Muse-Fanatic]

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Dom - The Fruit Salad

[quote, Dom - "Do you want some?". Photo by Tracy - nu.muse]

Ahhh...Poor Dommy. I love him. If Matt makes Muse, Dom is like the funny 'lil side kick that is just there for the ride. He's the fruit salad. Sorry, I mean he loves fruit salad. He he he. Actually, no matter what shenanigans Dom gets up to [see incriminating photos below], deep down, he's reserved.

Laid back and relaxed, Dominic Howard, is actually more rational than he looks! [Honest!] Most fans who've met his will tell you that he's perhaps the most accessible member of the band, with an undeniable sense of humour. Don't let his childish looks deceive you! Being the oldest member of Muse, both Matt and Chris label him as the "boss". Describing himself as "sad, negative, pessimist," as well as "happy, honest and optimistic," it's clear to see the round about nature that he possess.

Dommy remembers having always been into music - at the tender age of 5, he got a hold of his sister's keyboard before moving onto drums! Initially, Dom became fascinated with drums from hearing a jazz band perform at his school when he was 11. The rest is history.

"He represents the depravation of the band." - Matthew Bellamy

Brie and other fetishes

From Gonzo Muse Special which was on TV a bit before Absolution was released [paraphrased] -

Zane (asking questions from the message board): What's your favourite cheese? Chris...?

Chris :*mumbes something inaudible*

Zane: Matt?

Matt: Cheddar

Zane: ah, the most popular cheese, Dom?

Dom: Brie.

Zane: that's a gay cheese!

Muse: *much laughter*

[quote, Q Magazine]

[quote, Dom in disguise #1 and disguise #2]

Saturday, September 18, 2004


[quote, Matt's amp. Photography from]

de·range ( P ) Pronunciation Key (d-rnj)
tr.v. de·ranged, de·rang·ing, de·rang·es

1. To disturb the order or arrangement of.

2. To upset the normal condition or functioning of.

3. To disturb mentally; make insane.

[source: The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.]

Is there method to their madness? Is all that pent-up energy they blast onstage all due to crystal insanity? Well, I tend to believe so. All the geniuses of this materialistic world eventually go mad. It's all about a matter of time. And how effective their venting is in preventing psychosis.

So why the personal vandalism? I guess Matt was questioning his artistic ability and of his mind. Is he really going "deranged"? Or is he just playing devil's advocate? Perhaps it's a premonition of the future; of things to be? Or maybe, was it a snippet into the musical brilliance that is Muse? Their music is one of "derangement" [or is that de-arrangement?], to disturb the order and function of normal, perfectly packaged pop/rock songs into epic anthemic rock. It's a god-like syndrome. To be the creator. To have control over your creation. Eventually, mere homo sapiens become drugged with power and cripple into self-destruction.

Do we see the end of Muse? Do all their injury signs all point to a tell-tale consensus? I don't want to speculate, because I know we will definitely see and hear more powerfully evoking "music" from this trio. Perhaps, it is this element of madness that strengthen their writing abilities and allow them to experiment in the type of music they want to dictate, refusing to conform or listen to current trends.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Ring My Bellamy!

[quote, Matt at Pinkpop 2004. Photo by]

What can I say? Does this great man need an introduction? Spending most of his life pouring over the intros, outros, breakdowns, buildups with his music, Bellamy certainly is a force, not to be reckoned with.

Bellamy has been privileged musically, bathed in high praise thanks to the ambition of his father. Being in "The Tornados" Bellamy's father has the title of having the first British single ever to top the American charts with "Telstar". Could this be a taste of the future?

Beyond the refuge Bellamy could find in music, he raised his passion up to an art of living. At the tender age of 10, Bellamy learnt to play the piano - mostly by ear. But being the ferocious musician, he couldn't resist learning the guitar, self-teaching himself how to play as a means to release the tensions of everyday life.

"...when something was going wrong with my family, music was the best remedy. " - Bellamy's confession

Although Muse were just started out the business of making rock, it was Bellamy's surprising choir-boy vocals soaring as high as Radiohead's frontman, Thom Yorke that drew in the early comparisons and controversy far and wide. Initially Bellamy credited Yorke's blistering vocals as a means of expressing himself - but the comparisons and hype haunted him.

In essence, Muse and Bellamy had to create their own sound. It is here the music takes over. Moving right over the "oh so hip" trip-hop, mellow-melodious kitsch that British band seem to adopt and emulate copiously, Muse and Bellamy set their own score. Bellamy used all facets of his creativity to produce the most guttural of all wallowing poetic psalms. Without the much desperation of clichés and analogies, Muse talked about death, fear, survival and ultimately, joy.

"You make me sick
Because I adore you so
I love all the dirty tricks
And twisted games you play
On me" - Space Dementia

Not content on relying on twisted, emotive writing prose, Bellamy sort out to build and create a style of his own. Always using the talents and skills of Chris Wolstenholm and Dominic Howard, Bellamy is no stranger to using the latest technology and experimentation. Shown looking blankly at a refreshing computer screen, Bellamy maps out entirely how the appegios should form and played out.

Is this where the magic of Muse bloom? Apparently not. Not only does technology aid in constructing a sound, but Bellamy takes in a barrage of quirky instruments and settings to find the perfect sound. The perfect beat. The perfect element. Like amino acids make up the building blocks of DNA, Bellamy constructs the building blocks of sounds into something quite out of this world.

The reason why Bellamy has crafted such an aura and persistence, is the sole fact that he is ultimately a performer. Of course he is firstly a musician. But what good is a musician when performance rate secondly or is sub-standard? This is where Muse shine. All three are performers.

It is this dedication and the natural finesse to which Bellamy employ in his song-writing. Dotted throughout the myriad of songs are hidden classical elements. Historically and genre-specifically confined to classical music, Bellamy shun this and brought out the best of classical music - fusing it with anthemic rock to stamp his own brand of music - neo-classical rock.

Almost bordering on metalrock, the brilliance is that of Muse tend to bring out the best out of pure distortion and fuzzy basslines. Bellamy does not hide his passion and love for choral and classical music. These elements are reserved for the most epic of tracks - creating their own highlight, their own standing ovation. You cannot help but to hear in all its glory, the blinding triads, appegios and uplifting scales on the electrified piano Bellamy is fond of when he performs.

A musical genius? Possibly the greatest present rock maestro.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Muse's Maverick

Muse are the greatest British rock heretics of the new century. When they first cast strange and exhilarating shadows over the musical landscape at the tail end of the 90s, the cultural orthodoxy was not looking for an audacious, ambitious, heavy neo-classical metalcorepunk hyper-rock band, with a precocious, vocally soaring, 22 year old singer, apparently fallen from a distant galaxy. The times were seeking familiar, dependable sounds. Muse were neither, and yet by the time of their second album in 2001 they were playing European arena shows to 20,000 astonished onlookers, destroying extravagant amounts of equipment, filling the music press with tales of debauchery and crashing the pop charts. They must have being doing something contrarily right.

It's tempting to begin to explain Muse's maverick development as a consequence of growing up in the relative musical backwaters of Teignmouth in Devon. True, the knock on effects of mid 90s Britpop would be less powerfully felt in their small coastal hometown. To the schooldays phase of three friends trying out darkly rocking early versions of the band away from the pressures of scenes and tactics, you could throw in the now requisite information that singer-songwriter-guitarist-keyboardist Matt Bellamy's father was in legendary 60s hit group The Tornadoes, and that his mother was a medium with a taste for the operatic rock of Queen.

That version of Muse's progress, where they fall in love with 90s alternative rock and cut the intensity with Matt's love of early 20th century classical music, does little justice to the vertiginously tiered inner workings of their music. Personal histories and genre reference points are unreliable signposts to the place that Muse have come to inhabit. Shouldn't the children of melancholy seaside resorts turn into sepia loving poets of yesteryear? Wouldn't it be normal to run in the opposite direction from parental influences? It would make as much sense for Muse to have turned into maudlin retro DJs as the vaulting psychotic metal balladeers that they've become. If the mechanisms within Muse are to be understood at all, the best we're going to get is glimpses via Matt. "Irrespective of whether I was doing it for other people, making music is something I would be doing anyway," he says "Because there's a unique feeling that I get when I'm playing music. I think it could be one of the most pleasurable things, in terms of whatever's going on. For me it's something that's always been good, something that makes everything else seem unimportant.

"It's not just a case of personal pleasure - that makes it seem like it's a pleasing activity which releases endorphins. It's not like that. Making music effects the way I perceive everything and it gives me balance in my own reality. It's something that I can't really explain very well."

While so much allegedly modern rock music has given up the struggle to express anything new or complex, preferring to stick with preordained codes, Muse persist in attacking the genre as if it was unbreakable. Happily steered by three musicians with extraordinary technical skills, Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard have been able to operate on a larger scale - a rock band with the cheek and grand foolishness to believe there are no restrictions, and few no go areas. They are the least mundane band on the planet. To the delight, perplexity and sometimes annoyance of the listening world, their records have consistently been extreme and extravagant flights of the imagination. Three albums down the line they show no sign whatsoever of bowing to the pressure of low expectation.

If 1999's 'Showbiz' was the initial unfiltered statement of intent and 2001's 'Origin Of Symmetry' was Muse finding their feet on a larger musical stage, now comes 'Absolution', the bands most fully realised work yet. "'Showbiz' was all constructed whilst we were in Teignmouth together without any schedule or record company, without any of that vibe, and so we were just making music as we liked making music," reflects Dom. "So I think the first album you can probably hear that represents us as we were and who we were. I think the second album was very much that stage of confusion of getting record deals and travelling everywhere and not really knowing who you are, I think 'Origin Of Symmetry' represents that kind of feeling of confusion and not really know what's going on.

"I think we knew that anything we were going to do after the second album we'd need to really find out who we are now, and to do that we needed to go back to making music for ourselves in our own space. And when you're making music and going home afterwards, or spending a few days a week here and then all going home, the music takes on a more personal feeling and I think you can hear that on this album." adds Chris.

Muse took a considered route to album three. After ending 2002's heavy touring at Reading and Leeds festivals they set up their own studio in Hackney, East London and gradually began writing songs. The first sessions for 'Absolution' took place at the end of 2002 in Air studios, working with Paul Reeve, who produced their first EPs. Here they brought in a full orchestra and after headed down to Sawmills in Devon for some finishing touches. Having then been contacted by US producer Rich Costey (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, Fiona Apple, Mars Volta, Phillip Glass) they moved on to Grouse Lodge in Ireland and eventually L.A., with Costey producing. The orchestras were set aside in favour of a less ornate approach and concentrating on song arrangements.

Having yet to reach a point of stasis in their own lives and finding that global events were changing the world around them, the band had no shortage of songwriting inspiration. Complete sonic re-invention could be thought about later. For album three there was enough to do, perfecting, enhancing and extending their body of work. "Everywhere you move you're taking into consideration loads of previous styles musically have existed, whether it was a hundred years ago or a few years ago or whatever, " says Matt. "You're assimilating all of those different paradigms and trying to make some kind of new paradigm that makes sense of all of them, of course mixed with modern ideas as well. I think that's what generally creating stuff is about for me.

"And I think we established a certain sound on the last album and I think on 'Absolution' there are some songs that are continuations, but we tried to take the ideas to a higher level. A song like 'Stockholm Syndrome' could be similar to stuff on the last album but it's more evolved. But there are also songs on this album that have completely new ideas. Songs like 'Endlessly', 'Blackout', 'Butterflies And Hurricanes', 'Hysteria' - those kinds of songs are definitely like nothing we've done before."

'Absolution' is clearly the product of three mid twenties musicians at the height of their powers, determined to push their aesthetic all the way. It opens with the Armageddon drums and crazed piano drama of 'Apocalypse Please', with Matt at full stretch, proclaiming the end of the world. From baroque panoramas depicting the madness of fanaticism they cut to slinky feline hyper emotional rock 'Time Is Running Out' and then part the curtains on the dreamy, filmic, macabre love song 'Sing for Absolution'. With 'Stockholm Syndrome' they lock into the cyber-punk-fugue mode, Matt hurling grand piano against the wall of guitars. The softly ticking tenderness of 'Falling Away With You' provides respite, before 'Hysteria's Bach-bassline'd haute grunge stomp.

With 'Blackout' they slide into an orchestral waltz fit for Covent Garden (in the year 2030), followed by an opening out into the synth and string driven optimism of 'Butterflies And Hurricanes' (featuring the world's only Rachmaninov style rock-house breakdown), and the warm organ groove of 'Endlessly', a song that you might think to be under the influence of electronic pop, if it wasn't by the 'doomy cyber rock band' Muse. From grooves and highly human emotions they take you on a thrilling ride down an Escher's worth of spiral staircase guitars - 'Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist', plunge into the dirty riffs and anger of 'TSP' and float to the fade with the eerie 'Rule By Secrecy', leaving in their wake just a dazed grand piano and sense of having travelled to the ends and back.

The musical intention for album three was to hone their art as a rock band and open up the possibilities of grooves and electronics (Matt: "I'm actually interested in the cheesier side of that area,") whilst also investigating where they could go with "large ensembles, orchestras, choirs." The thought processes behind the lyrics were more reactive, possibly more visibly reportage based than has happened before. If Matt's tendency to follow thought processes to the edge of reason, and then leap, had previously given the impression that warmth and humanity were not his style, there is much on 'Absolution' to contradict that view. Global wars and new emotional territory have their effect.

"I came out of a six year relationship and entered into a new relationship, that was a pretty major thing for me," he explains. "And world events played a reasonably large role too. There was a moment of panic and fear, and I think everyone that lives in London can probably relate to that. I think that was having an impact on what was happening with the album. We're not an intensely political band or anything, but when things like that are happening, you can't ignore it and it influences the way you feel about life and the world.

"It creates feelings of mistrust for the people in power, feelings of extreme mistrust of what is the media, government, secret government etc - that feeling of helplessness, that's where the more extreme moments of fear and panic and apocalyptic feelings are coming from. How that feeds into the other personal angle is that I suppose in that situation, you look at the things that are really important to you, friends, family, freedom of thought or whatever, and maybe you start to realise the importance of those things that maybe you didn't see before.

"At the same time listening to music by bands like The Flaming Lips and Romantic/Early modern Classical Music made me realise that it is possible to make music that goes beyond everyday life and beyond life in general, something timeless that speaks about existence and can still be related to after the composers death... I'm not saying that's we are doing, but maybe what we are trying to do. I think it is possible to find something on a more spiritual level, which is something I've never really considered before, because I'm not really a spiritual person, but I have started to consider those things maybe for the first time whilst making this album."

...And the 'Absolution' that's being sought? Musing on love, loss, finality and fanaticism may have brought Matt to a less science-fixated, empirical understanding of the world, but he is hardly ripe for conversion. "I think the absolution is not necessarily a religious word," says Matt. "It has meanings of purity, but its not necessarily talking from a Christian or any particular religious point of view. I think it's just suggesting that the act of making music is a way of understanding things."

Unwilling to settle for the option of being simply brilliant exponents of a particular genre, Muse insist that their music is a personal tool, a prism through which to make sense of the world. That doesn't mean they're unable to see the moments where (particularly on stage) the intensity touches on absurdity. They're intentionally over the top at times. But oddly for a band with serious thought processes behind what they do, they are low on contrivance. Muse are not acting rhapsodic mind-fire rock. They are not 'showbiz'. They were always like this. It's innate. It's meant. None of the genius in the earlier phases could have manifested itself without the attitude that pervades everything they do - an attitude of this could do more, say more, go further, faster, heavier, sweeter.

You can hear the will to push things further in all of 'Origin Of Symmetry'. It's probably what got that album's big single 'Plug In Baby' drilling into the album charts in spring 2001 and what lead them to cover the Nina Simone classic 'Feeling Good' reinterpreting the song for a new generation. Its why 'Sunburn' from the first John Leckie produced album 'Showbiz' grabbed everyone's attention, and first pushed the band in front of the UK media at the start of 2000.

The need to make something beyond what's expected was why they were plucked from gigging in bars and small clubs in Devon, given the keys to the best recording studio in the vicinity, signed a worldwide record deal with Taste Media, were flown out to America and penned a licensing deal within days. Its how it came about that Mushroom took them on in the UK, and Japan and Europe fell for them turning them into one of the biggest festival draws and arena bands. It would be the driving force behind live shows which make you think you've witnessed the start of a new era in extreme rock stagecraft, and conclude that anyone who can play uber-flash guitar as dazzlingly as Bellamy while bouncing off the drum kit must actually be an alien.

Whether it's ambition, hauteur, super-competitiveness, curiosity or just low boredom thresholds, Muse have always had it and for the exact duration of time that it's necessary to buy their records, they always will. Their heretical momentum is showing no sign of letting up. There they go, up in the sky, a silver flying v, on a mission to explode the myth of English meekness and reserve. "I think that the greatest rock music in the past has been from England, and I think that if I was going to say something positive or hopeful about Muse it would be that we want to be that, to do that, to prove that England isn't just about soft stuff, and that there's more to English life than that.

"I don't really know many English bands that do rock music of a relatively modern nature, and I think that we're definitely trying to, not necessarily go against it, but prove that there is a lot more to it. A lot of what has been rock oriented in the last ten years in England, the extremely original stuff has been very mellow, the rockier stuff has been old, 'dadrock', retro, and I think its about time there was an English rock band that was bold enough to actually be a rock band and not hide behind old established genres or hide behind self-consciousness."

Look no further. Muse are overhead now.

[quote, review from]

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Big White Balloons

[quote, Muse at Manchester 2003. Photo from]



Wow, wow, wow, wow...FAR better than their gig at the Hi-Fi Bar!

So more professional with lighting, big white balloons, smoke AND visuals!!!!!

Here is the COMPLETE set list -

Apocalypse Please
New Born

Dead Star
Muscle Museum
Citizen Erased
Ruled By Secrecy

Butterflies & Hurricanes
The Small Print

Time Is Running Out
Plug In Baby

Stockholm Syndrome

I'm sure the 3 lucky buggers who got the setlist can fill us in!

Cheers! More updates to follow with FULL set list and gig review.
[update - Thanks to Ash for the setlist played]

I'm buggered. Need a shower.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want!

[quote, Steve Irwin! Eat your heart out! Muse]

Argh!! Tonight's the NIGHT! It will go off! I can almost feel it! Please, please, PLEASE, give me what I WANT! The songs I want to hear the most - Space Dementia, Hysteria, Apocalypse Please, Sunburn, New Born, Eternally Missed, Fury, In Your World, Dead Star, Sing For Absolution, Citizen Erased, Time Is Running Out, Stockholm Syndrome, Bliss, Butterflies & Hurricanes, Feel Good, Nature_1, Muscle Museum, Plug In Baby, should do for now.

Stay tuned...the setlist and the review will come very, very soon...I cannot WAIT!!

And it looks like Muse have become fully-fledged Aussies -

[quote, no shrimps on the barbie! Muse]

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Lo-Fi, Hi-Fi

To the Lo. To the Hi. To the Hi-Fi we go! As Melbourne gear up for the return [third time!] of Muse to our fine city, I thought I would relive the glorious atmosphere a select [ok, eight hundred other screaming fans] group witnessed with my personal review of their Hi-Fi Bar gig in January, 2004. With what could possibly be the most electrifying set ever played, not only did Bellamy, Wolstenholme and Howard graced us with their mere presence, but they treated us to a thrilling, memorable night! But best of all, I managed to shake hands with each of them as they re-entered the place for an encore! Unfortunately, the photos posted below were the last ones before I had a chance to take a photo of them with me. Oh well, next time. And next time, I will gate-crash their after-party! Apologies for the sub-standard captures. It was made on a cheap instant-matic camera.

I cannot contain the excitment! It is only a few more sleeps before we take out intimate Hi-Fi Bar setting, up a level - to Festival Hall! Not renown for it's class or style, the redubbed "Festy Hall" will suitably cater for the large-contingent of rampaging Muse fans, come this September 8th.

Review by Reuben

Hi-Fi Bar, 27 January 2004

Muse fans are fanatical. Some waiting as earlier as 5 o'clock for a gig that officially starts at 8 o'clock. No doubt as the minute hand ticked ever so closer to the time the doors opened, the line grew and grew. Reaching almost Collins St, Muse fans know how to keep themselves occupied while waiting in line. Many wore official Muse t-shirts, while others amused others with their original and creative home-made items. A medium contingent of die-hard Muse fans who didn't score themselves a ticket held signs begging for a spare ticket. With the suggested offers of "services", to the trading of Radiohead tickets, to even dolling up to look like Matt Bellamy garner support from a sympathetic crowd. But, none were willing to part with their precious ticket. Several elderly couples were beside themselves when queried who the line was waiting for. "MUSE!" screamed an over-enthusiastic fan, near the very front of the line. This is what we all have been waiting for over four years. The wait was nearly over.

The doors opened some time after the official starting time, amidst growing annoyance and grumbling from the boisterous crowd. Once in, the crowd headed straight to the front of the stage to book the best spot of the night. With a venue like the Hi-Fi Bar, although catering a moderately small capacity (too small for all the Muse fans), the venue boasts an uninterrupted view of the stage from all angles. This is certainly true, whether you were right up the front, on the steps, or in the mezzanine level; wherever you looked, there was a clear view of the stage.

An hour had passed, the venue was at near capacity and the support act, The Morning After Girls announced their arrival with a lengthy instrumental track. Mellow sounding with some interesting distortions, The Morning After Girls were giving their best. However, the crowd only wanted Muse, and The Morning After Girls accepted that fact graciously and cheered the crowd, saying it was an absolute honour to play before Muse. Then as memorable as their lyrics, they disappeared off the stage, handing it over to the support crew who efficiently cleared the stage and anticipation fell amongst the crowd.

Close to half an hour of constant stomping and handclapping, mimicking Muse's latest album intro, the crowd was handsomely rewarded when the British came on stage! Screaming and the mad push forwards erupted and the UK trio used this to blow the bar up with an electrifying version of their latest single, "Hysteria." Mass hysteria broke out as the crowd jumped up and down, shouted out the lyrics and croon away with the three lads.

With a set list that was far more coherent than the intriguing array of songs played at the Melbourne Big Day Out the previous day, Muse knew what the fans wanted to hear, and delivered on cue. Hardly stopping to breathe, Matt Bellamy showed us why he is the greatest musician in the world. With frantic finger movements along the entire guitar fret board to the blazing piano-forte technique, Bellamy gave the impression of the mad virtuoso, utterly blinded by the music his soul creates.

Bellamy showed off with a barrage of pseudo-classical hits from their earlier albums, attacking the oddly lit keyboard with finesse and style. However, not to be outclassed, both Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme played brilliantly, transposing a myriad of layers found on their albums to one instrument layer each perfectly. Bellamy's conalto voice held up and glided beautifully with each song their played. Mixing it with almost heavenly choral with the demonic, it is clear that this is distinctly their sound. No room for imitation.

Without the need to drum up the crowd with insincere greetings and love for the city, Muse approached Melbourne with honestly, with humble thank yous and with high praise for their dedicated fans. They left quickly, exiting the side door. After a brief stay outside, they ventured in, with deafening cheers and screams from the elevated crowd and played two more songs. Bellamy, almost proud, presented their bassist, Wolstenholme to helm the piano for "Blackout", before finishing with the loud "Stockholm Syndrome." As they deviated musically, Bellamy nearly tore up the stage with all the pent up energy he still possessed. Tipping over the steel fronted amplifier and standing right on top of it, Bellamy's face displayed a bevy of emotions as the lads continued on their riff. Then it was over. Muse left the stage, and the crowd went mad.

I apologise. Muse fans aren't fanatical. They are psychotic. Tearing up a towel Wolstenholme threw in the crowd. Screaming for water and drinking out of Bellamy's bottle. Grabbing the set lists, a broken drumstick and the prized possession, Bellamy's pick. I went home spent, zapped of energy, soaking in my own sweat and the thirst for water rampant. But this has to be by far, the best, electrifying gig ever. It was worth it, every single minute of it.

[quote, Reuben - own photography]

Friday, September 03, 2004

I Liek Muse

[quote, Muse Biography - I Liek Muse]

To bring people up to date to all things Muse, I have stumbled across this brilliant page, I Liek Muse and have attached the shortened biography of Muse. One of the bestest Muse fansite around, it's brutally accurate and gives the uninitiated a taste of this prog-rock band's astounding career. Please give this site a visit, and if you're a fan, you will *know* exactly how honest and spot on the drawings and bios are.

I literally burst into tears when I read Chris' bio! And what compounded the truth, was the cute drawing of Dom (poor Dom) and his one big eye. Not only is the simplistic drawing look like it was drawn by a 5 year old girl, but it really does freakingly resemble Dom!

However, in all honesty and pure bluntness, I'll reserve my review for Muse's past studio and soundtrack albums to the drawer of I Liek Muse. It pretty much sums it all up in a drawing and brilliant commentary!

[quote, Muse Discography - I Liek Muse]

And yes, they have LOTS of singles! Countless EPs, vinyls and boxsets...too many for a 5 year old girl to depict and catalog....ah, this will do! Cheers!

I liek Muse ... he he!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Sing For Absolution

Re-release of "Absolution"

To coincide with Muse's sold out Australian Tour, "Absolution" has been re-released with an exclusive bonus live 6-track disc. Get it now at any good music specialist stores.

Disc 1 - Absolution

Disc 2 - Recorded live by Triple J radio station Australia :
1. Stockholm Syndrome
2. Newborn
3. Muscle Museum
4. Hysteria
5. Bliss
6. Time Is Running Out

+ Update on "Absolution Tour"

FMR has confirmed that NEON will be supporting Muse on their national tour around Australia. Information and touring schedule for NEON can be obtained at their Ivy League

Muse will come on stage at around 9:15pm - expect an explosive set!

[latest] Word in from FMR -

Muse wish to announce that Chris Wolstenholme has now been given permission by his surgeon to perform with the band for the duration of theAustralian/New Zealand tour. Morgan Nicholls of The Streets, willaccompany the band to Australia/New Zealand to play keyboards and be available if there is any re-action to Chris’ injury. Muse are doingeverything to ensure that their fans will have a great time. Hopefullythe fans will bare with Muse during this period.

[Lets just hope that Nicholls won't be called to play "Butterflies & Hurricanes" on the keyboards!]