The contemporary band known as Muse is a true paradox, being a pop sensation with electronic melodies driven by the classically-trained Matthew Bellamy. And while the group has achieved many great and popular hits like “Apocalypse Please,” “Starlight,” “Knights of Cydonia,” and “Uprising,” when given the chance to let loose, they produce the modern-day wonder that is “Exogenesis: Symphony.”
At fifteen minutes in length, the “symphony” is divided into three parts, each telling a different segment of the story. The earth is dying while Humanity, desperate to survive, sends out a group of brave astronauts, hoping to restart the cycle of life elsewhere among the stars. The astronauts learn in the void that their cycle of decadence and decay will only continue again on different worlds unless the human race can finally change itself for the better.
As Bellamy himself says, this state of seeding new life in outer space is based on the concept of panspermia, or life originating somewhere beyond Earth. And in the end, that’s what this musical score is about: where life takes us, and where we take it.
Having touched on the central themes, I’ll take a second away from all this in-depth analysis and say that the music itself is a real delight. Part I (“Overture”) is a haunting melody reminiscent of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Part II (“Cross-Pollination”) moves from courtly to contemporary vibes, capturing the angst of the people back on Earth as they follow the astronauts’ journey. Part III (“Redemption”) falls back toward the quieter melody of the overture, but builds towards a more optimistic and joyous chorus, as Bellamy sings of his vision of the world’s salvation.
“Let’s start over again,” indeed.
Bibliography: Muse. “Exogenesis: Symphony.” The Resistance. CD. New York: Warner Music Group, 2009.