20 Years of Muse's 'Origin of Symmetry' | The Story Behind The Record

20 Years of Muse's 'Origin of Symmetry' | The Story Behind The Record

17th July 2021

20 years ago today, Muse released their 2001 second album, Origin of Symmetry an impressive ambition that changed everything for its makers. Partially recorded in Studio Two, the album was met with critical acclaim upon its release.

To give it some context, it was the album that pushed Muse into upper levels of the charts; a set that marked Matt Bellamy’s lyrics out as speaking defiantly on behalf of Muse’s ever-growing fanbase and brought his ingenious guitar approach to the forefront.

Origin of Symmetry peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart and was certified platinum. Four singles were released from the album: Plug In Baby, New Born, Bliss, and Hyper Music / Feeling Good. Our own Mirek Stiles worked on the sessions 20 years ago and recounts his memories below.

Mirek Stiles on the Muse Origin of Symmetry sessions:

I was only 22 at the time and it was my first solo assisting job on a big pop session. I was a little nervous, as I would be assisting the legendary John Leckie producing and Chris Brown engineering, both of whom were ex-Abbey Road with very high standards. I was expected to run the tape machine, on some sessions the engineer or producer would run the tape machine but for this session, I seem to recall that was my duty.

Tape machines obviously had no “undo” buttons, so you always had to check and double-check what tracks are ‘armed’ for recording because if you record over something there is no way of getting it back. Anyway, I was doing a drop-in for one of Matt’s guitar solos and I dropped into record at the wrong point and erased a huge chunk of the performance.

Once I realised I was in record, but not actually hearing any guitar, I understood the mistake I had made and stopped the machine immediately. I turned round to the producer and explained what I had done and he said I’d better go let Matt know. So I got up and walked nervously down the stairs in Studio Two to let Matt know that I’d messed up expecting him to be pretty pissed off. To my relief, he just shrugged it off and said let’s do it again then. I was still pretty embarrassed, it’s kind of an unwritten rule that you are only allowed to make that kind of mistake once. All character building I suppose.

It was also my first session that felt like a proper rock and roll gig. By that, I mean a great band, great producer, recording in a great room for a sustained period. I think we were there for about 10 days or so, and most of my sessions before that had been a day or two here or there. It felt like we were camped out in this little creative bubble and it was a really good vibe. It was a real pleasure to just witness a fanatic band performing together in the studio, not many people actually have that privilege.

Origin Of Symmetry: XX Anniversary RemiXX

Last month, Muse also released a remixed and remastered version, Origin of Symmetry: XX Anniversary RemiXX, for the album's 20th anniversary. The new edition features remixed and remastered audio by Abbey Road’s Alex Wharton plus re-imagined artwork which is out now on digital format.

From the visceral opening riff of New Born to the cinematic melancholy of the closing Megalomania via the staggering scope of fan-favorite Citizen Erased, the remix unveils every facet of the album’s intricate production alongside a new-found warmth.

Purchase on Abbey Road Shop.

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