MUSE (IMPACT Series)

Chris Wolstenholme (bass), Matt Bellamy (vocals, guitar & keyboard) and Dominic Howard (drums) doing their best impression of a English rock band.

Welcome to the IMPACT series where I dissect notable and iconic sequences from games and movies, and how they broadened my mind and left a lasting impression on me, years to come. 

She burns like the sun
And I can’t look away
And she’ll burn our horizons
Make no mistakes

– Sunburn from the album Showbiz

The Backdrop.

I am a former pianist.

Reluctantly talented and recalcitrant about showing any of my skill to anyone, I was pigeon-holed into learning the piano when I was very young, approximately 7 years old.

I say pigeon-holed, because I had no real concept of what was going on, and didn’t realise that this was a typically egotistical Asian parenting method enforced on many young boys and girls at my age.

For some bizarre reason, all Asian parents have an obsession with classical music and enjoy putting their child through the musical wringer in order to boast to other Asian parents at just how talented their child was at banging keys on a board or moving a string across other strings in a cacophony of shrill sounds and clacks of long fingernails on ivory.

I played for my parents, my grandparents, random people … 4x in a concert hall … everyone except myself.

As you can probably tell … I am still embittered about this Asian tradition.

But what is the key behind this anecdote?

Classical music.

That was all I heard for the majority of my childhood. My father was obsessed with classical music. He incessantly bought endless CDs and played them relentlessly. The only sounds I would experience was classic. I played classical, lived classical and heard classical.

The man was so obsessed, be bestowed upon me, my middle name, ripped from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

So imagine my incredible shock, when a friend introduced me to the sounds of MUSE.

MUSE along with DREAM THEATER were my first real taste of music outside the prison of classical and ever since … I have never looked back once, obsessed with all types of music from synth, pop, jazz, metal, electronic and even begrudgingly listening to old operas.

Nothing would or will whet my appetite for music.

There are two items that I consider essentials in my life and they are called headphones and an Ipod.

I can lose everything else, but never those items.

Knights of Cydonia – A bizarre schlocky tune that perfectly captures the vibe of a Western Space Epic made in the style of 80s cheap B-Movies.

The Impact.

MUSE is known for its experimental style. Every album of theirs has them exploring all avenues of music. In fact, I like to think of MUSE as the band that creates an album that I absolutely despise at the beginning because it sounds so damn different to anything else they created before.

Then I wait for 2 months, and I recall their singles from that new album in my head. I visit it again … and somehow it hits different and suddenly, my opinion changes like a switch, from sickening disgust to rabid enthusiasm.

This has been the case since I was first in love with the first three albums that I was exposed to … Absolution (2003), Black Holes and Revelations (2006) and Showbiz (1999). I somehow skipped Origin of Symmetry (2001) for the longest time, but it was The Resistance (2009) where I was saying … “What the hell is this? This isn’t similar to Assassin.”

However over time, I grew to appreciate just how dynamic MUSE has remained in comparison to some of my other favourite bands. Each album continues to explore the themes that the band wants to tackle and do so in a way to really show how much passion they still have for their music.

Simulation Theory (2018) is a prime example of that. Diving full blown into the current 80s fever, MUSE throws their spin on synth, power-rock and electronic pop. The soundscape heard in Algorithm could not be any further removed from their cover of Feeling Good way back in 2001.

But the signature of MUSE is still there. Bellamy’s falsetto voice floating high, near operatic levels, whilst the experimental sounds crafted by Wolstenholme, Howard and Bellamy himself, buzz away underneath, eventually drowning out the vocals in a glorious mess of guitars, drums and pianos.

Even their MVs (Music Videos) carry over that same manic energy of constant innovation and a desire to be different every time. Some of their earliest songs like Hysteria has this incredibly grimy and Se7en like atmosphere to them, with a real narrative and style that seems to be in complete harmony with the music being played. It is disturbing and haunting … a stark contrast to the crimson themed, dream like bizarro atmosphere of Feeling Good, a song only released 2 years prior.

I mean, the latest series of MVs has Terry Crews fighting Gremlin like creatures and hacking a algorithm that is purported to hold the answer whether life is just a simulation.

Time is Running OutOne of the first songs I ever really fell in love with.

The Enrichment

MUSE opened my eyes to the huge variety of sounds that can be found in the world. They not only freed me from my prison, they comprehensively smashed it to pieces and told me to find the sounds that could be waiting for me, if I looked hard enough.

Now with a collection of music that could play for 127.5 days, and over 2767 albums, I can’t thank MUSE enough for introducing me to all kind of music.

Beyond that, I also grew to appreciative modern music more. After all, a band that can create songs like the intriguing Time is Running Out, the sensual Undisclosed Desires and rocky New Born and the revolution march Resistance has to be worth celebrating.

They also happened to be the perfect band to be exposed to as a teenager, with their hard and soft songs able to really help me channel some of the emotional excess I was experiencing at the time.

I have always found myself a kindred spirit to the Brits, so MUSE allowed me to explore that aspect of myself more, diving deeper into British styled music, and how the Brits can express themselves in truly zany ways, to compensate for the iconic stiff British resolve.

The Culmination.

MUSE was the gateway drug into the world of music for me. Their songs really allowed me to appreciate how modern composers can twist, turn and transform sounds, despite certain things on paper not really making any real sense.

How does a falsetto like Bellamy accompany the rock-like grunge that the band is producing? Only MUSE could work it out and make it an Platinum record.

Even now, as I revisit their songs, to prepare this post, I am still shocked at their ability to create such unique sounds and melodies that make me want to shake my head and scream along with them.

The dream then, is one day to attend their concert and truly see their mastery at work. I still recall downloading HAARP (2008), their iconic Live Album and thinking to myself, What the hell … these guys sound even better live!!

Take a Bow MUSE, because you’ve certainly achieved a legendary status in my mind and created inside me a Stockholm Syndrome for your Hyper Music.

IMPACT

~ Damocles

Once formally known as the Rocket Baby Dolls … I almost wish they kept that namesake. But MUSE just looks and sounds way better.

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