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In music, like in nature, the evolution rewards the artists that demonstrate new useful personalities: whoever is able to create a sound different from anything else, will have the opportunity to reach for success. But how can we define a new genre in the moment it’s being created? For several years now, in rock, the answer was “alternative rock”; but seventeen years ago, alternative meant one, among many, genre followed by Muse. Therefore, the English band was able to combine distant musical words, like few other artists did before, adding electronic, orchestral and sometimes progressive elements to the basis of rock.
Formed between 1994 and 1997, Muse released their first album Showbiz in 1999, a work that showed an incredible variety and depth of sound for a debuting band. In no time, they overcome themselves with the one that a lot of fans consider their best album: Origin of Symmetry (2001). Compared to Showbiz, the tracks in Origin of Symmetry are more organised and solid according to the recurring structure based on the guitar and bass riff, which acquires a fundamental role itself but also as a sound effect thanks to Chris Wolstenholme and his use of synths and distortion pedals. The big variety of sounds is being repurposed in the whole album, even by the versatility of Matthew Bellamy, who handle the guitar, keyboards and synths with no effort. Every song of the album is a little treasure, but the ones that hit the hearts of fans and estimators are New Born, Plug in Baby, Bliss, Megalomania and Feeling Good, cover written in ’65 by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse.
The value of Origin of Symmetry doesn’t lie in having the stylistic direction of the band stabilised, but also in having let the band demonstrate to the music scene of that time that it was still possible to take new directions in music, and assimilate electronic and rock effectively. Even though electronic was being used a lot for many years along with rock music, Muse were the one that made it a tool, not a goal: the cold and mechanical sound of electronic never prevail, but is used with balance.
Leonardo Fumagalli – Translated by Beatrice Birolo