Origin of Symmetry

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Origin of Symmetry
Studio album by Muse
Released 17 July 2001 (2001-07-17)
Recorded September 2000 – February 2001
Length 51:41
Muse chronology
Random 1–8
Origin of Symmetry
Hullabaloo Soundtrack
Singles from Origin of Symmetry
  1. "Plug In Baby"
    Released: 5 March 2001
  2. "New Born"
    Released: 5 June 2001
  3. "Bliss"
    Released: 20 August 2001
  4. "Hyper Music/Feeling Good"
    Released: 19 November 2001

Origin of Symmetry is the second studio album by English alternative rock band Muse, released on 17 July 2001 by Mushroom Records and Taste Media.[1] The album was a critical and commercial success in the UK, it peaked at number 3 in the UK Albums Chart[2] and was certified platinum.[3] The title and theme for the album comes from a concept put forward by the theoretical physicist Michio Kaku in his book Hyperspace.[4]

On 26 and 28 August 2011, Muse designed and performed a special set at the Reading and Leeds Festivals to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Origin of Symmetry.[5] The album was played from start to finish, marking the first time certain songs (such as "Darkshines" and "Hyper Music") had been played in several years.[6]


The development of the album came about during the band's extensive touring in promotion of Showbiz, with some of the material written and performed whilst on the road. The name and theme of the album comes from the book Hyperspace by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. In it he discusses how a future book about the discovery of supersymmetry should be entitled "The Origin of Symmetry", due to its implications in physics, in reference to the impact Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species had on biology. As is cited by Matt Bellamy: "The name of the album, 'Origin of Symmetry', is from a book about geometry of the universe and how it's all in beautiful balance, a perfect thing in ten dimensions. It explains all the mysterious forces we invented religions around." According to Bellamy, "everyone's been writing about the origin of life so now they'll start looking at the origin of symmetry; there's a certain amount of stability in the universe and to find out where it originates from would be to find out if God exists."[7]

Production and composition[edit]

Recording took place at Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey and Real World Studio in Wiltshire, and additional recordings were made at David Gilmour's Astoria Studios, Richmond Studios and Abbey Road Studios in London and Sawmills Studio in Fowey, Cornwall. The album was mixed at Sawmills and mastered at Sony Music Studios in London. Origin of Symmetry was produced by David Bottrill, John Leckie (who previously worked on the band's first album, Showbiz) and the band themselves.[8]

Origin of Symmetry is an alternative rock, hard rock,[9] and space rock[10] album. Songs like "New Born", "Plug In Baby", and "Bliss" were recorded with producer David Bottrill during the middle of touring in late 2000, in Ridge Farm Studios, Surrey. The songs were recorded within just a few days, so the band later had to re-master the songs with the help of John Cornfield after finishing with the Showbiz tour in order to make them suitable for an album release. The relatively stripped down nature of these songs helped to set a contrast for the recording of the rest of the album. "New Born", "Plug In Baby" and "Bliss" were seen as the "backbone of the album", with the other material being more experimental and ambitious.[citation needed]

Origin of Symmetry saw the band experimenting with new instruments and dynamics. Dominic Howard (drums) expanded the standard rock drum kit with various other items of his own, including a balaphone and even animal bones on "Screenager". Matt Bellamy also used an organ at St Mary the Virgin's Church, Bathwick to record "Megalomania". Because of the requirement of the pipe organ, this song is rarely played live by Muse, perhaps the most notable occasions being at Muse's charity gig at the Royal Albert Hall[11] and during the Hullabaloo concert in Paris.


Origin of Symmetry was to be released in the US on the 28th August 2001 but the release was cancelled after Muse left Maverick Records, who previously released Showbiz in the United States. The record label asked the band to remove the falsetto vocals for the album's release, claiming that their presence would discourage radio play. Muse's refusal saw them part ways with the label, meaning that the album was not released in the US until 2005.[12] However, the album did not chart on the Billboard 200 until February 2010, when it "debuted" at number 161, nearly a decade after its original release. The album was originally released as a CD-ROM with the MuseTV feature linked to online bonus material. This later ceased to function once the MuseTV media had been removed from the Internet. The CD was available in either a digipak or jewel case.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[13]
Drowned in Sound 10/10[14]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[15]
The Guardian 1/5 stars[16]
Hot Press 8/12[17]
NME 9/10[18]
Q 5/5 stars[19]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[20]
Stylus Magazine C[21]

The album was met with positive reviews. The BBC stated in their retrospective review that the album "shows a band with the drive and unfettered ambition to create a standalone marvel which not only awakens the ghosts and clichés from prog's pompous past, but entirely adds its own voice", adding that many elements of the band's later sound on albums such as Black Holes and Revelations could be traced back to this album.[22] Q listed Origin of Symmetry as one of the best 50 albums of 2001.[23]

In her 2011 work Revolution Rock: The Albums Which Defined Two Ages, author Amy Britton argued that on Origin of Symmetry Bellamy "progressed [his band]'s sound so much that he earned a new title – this generation's guitar hero," highlighting "Plug In Baby" and "New Born".[24]

The album has made appearances on lists of the greatest rock albums of the 2000s, both poll-based and on publication lists. In 2006 earned the spot of 74 on Q Magazine's 100 Greatest Albums of all Time.[25] Later in February 2008 a Public Vote for Q Magazine placed the album in #28 of the Best British Albums of all time. Acclaimed Music ranks Origin of Symmetry as the 1,247th greatest album of all time.[26] Kerrang! Magazine placed the album at #20 in its 100 Best British Rock Albums Ever! List, #9 in its Albums of the Year 2001 List [27] and #13 on their 50 Best Albums of the 21st Century.[28]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Matthew Bellamy, except "Feeling Good" by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

Original edition
No. Title Length
1. "New Born"   6:03
2. "Bliss"   4:12
3. "Space Dementia"   6:20
4. "Hyper Music"   3:21
5. "Plug In Baby"   3:39
6. "Citizen Erased"   7:19
7. "Micro Cuts"   3:38
8. "Screenager"   4:20
9. "Darkshines"   4:47
10. "Feeling Good"   3:19
11. "Megalomania"   4:38


Chart Peak
UK Albums Chart 3 2× Platinum
Australian Albums Chart 22 Platinum
Austrian Albums Chart 7
Dutch Albums Chart 19
French Albums Chart 2
German Albums Chart 17
Irish Albums Chart 3
Italian Albums Chart 5
Japanese Albums Chart 20
Swiss Hitparade 14 Gold
US Billboard 200 161



  1. ^ Beaumont, Mark (2008). Out of This World: The Story of Muse. London: Omnibus Press. p. 325. ISBN 978-1-84772-377-2. 
  2. ^ "Chart Stats – Muse". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Platinum Awards Content". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2008-11-01. [dead link]
  4. ^ The Making of Origin of Symmetry. Xfm. 7 November 2007
  5. ^ "Muse to play 'Origin Of Symmetry' in full at Reading And Leeds Festivals". NME. 
  6. ^ "Muse Concert Setlist at Reading Festival 2011 on August 28, 2011 - setlist.fm". setlist.fm. 
  7. ^ "English Articles". archive.is. 
  8. ^ Origin of Symmetry (album liner notes). Muse. Mushroom Records, Taste Media. 2001. 
  9. ^ Raper, Dan (19 July 2006). "Muse: Black Holes & Revelations". PopMatters. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Trendell, Andrew (17 July 2014). "Happy Birthday Muse's Origin Of Symmetry: The Tracks Ranked". Gigwise. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Mendoza, Nadia. "Caught Live - Muse - Royal Albert Hall". The Sun. Retrieved 2012-09-29. 
  12. ^ Spin Sep 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  13. ^ Carlson, Dean. "Origin of Symmetry – Muse". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Adams, Sean (19 May 2001). "Album Review: Muse – Origin of Symmetry". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  15. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-857-12595-8. 
  16. ^ Clarke, Betty (15 June 2001). "On the attack". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  17. ^ Tyaransen, Olaf (21 June 2001). "Origin Of Symmetry". Hot Press. Retrieved 2 June 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ Morton, Roger (12 June 2001). "Muse : Origin Of Symmetry". NME. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "Muse: Origin of Symmetry". Q. 2002. 
  20. ^ Fisher, Tyler (14 July 2006). "Muse – Origin of Symmetry". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  21. ^ Martin, Tyler (1 September 2003). "Muse – Origin of Symmetry – Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  22. ^ "Music - Review of Muse - Origin of Symmetry". BBC. Retrieved 2012-09-29. 
  23. ^ "The Best 50 Albums of 2001". Q. December 2001. pp. 60–65. 
  24. ^ Britton, Amy (2011). Revolution Rock: The Albums Which Defined Two Ages. AuthorHouse. p. 306. 
  25. ^ "Q Greatest Albums of All Time". Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  26. ^ "Muse". Acclaimed Music. 2009-12-14. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  27. ^ "Kerrang! Lists". Kerrang!. Retrieved 2012-09-29. 
  28. ^ "Muse Message Board Lists". Kerrang!. Retrieved 2012-09-29. 

External links[edit]