Isolated System (song)

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Dom with the "The 2nd Law" line up in background
Muse song
Name The 2nd Law: Isolated System
Length 4:59
Alternative titles The Unknown
First live performance 16th October 2012
Latest live performance 3rd December 2018
Recorded 2011-2012
Writer/composer Matthew Bellamy
Producer Muse



Trumpets inflating like lifeboats and Exorcist piano pulses tinkling goodbye to the globe. "It's the noise of humanity on a tiny planet in the middle of nothing," says Matt. "Hanging around space would be so peaceful and quiet and suddenly you come to this little blip that's fucking chaos! I see it as drifting away from the planet and going into the peacefulness of what actually is gonna happen at the end of it all, which is nothingness."[1]

The song includes no vocals, the main part is the piano and it ends with the voice of a woman in a loop. [2]

Rhythmically, a choir enters at 3:31 in 3/4, creating a polymeter with the band (which is in 4/4). Polymeters have been used previously within Hoodoo and Animals.

Bing Bellamy's heartbeat is audible during the song, at 2:00 and at the end, at 4:20.

When performing live, the news broadcasts are replaced with an excerpt of BBC 4 Broadcast about Number Stations, called "Tracking the Lincolnshire Poacher". The audio can be heard here:[3]


Isolated System was greatly influenced by Undisclosed Desires, as evidenced by the striking similarity between the main riff of the former and the synth overdubs of Resistance-era performances of the latter (see Glastonbury 2010 performance).

The song's name was unknown until the 13th July 2012, the day that Muse tweeted the same picture with Dom and the leaked names, but with the working titles replaced by the new album tracking list. It was unknown if the song was related to one of the titles on the old, unedited image, but in the "The 2nd Law - Making Of", the score board reveals that "Isolated System" was recorded under the name "The Unknown".

On 21st September 2012, Muse revealed the Social Connectome Project, which uses social networks to create a map similar to the album art. With every 5000 members of the project, an additional 30-second preview of Isolated System is released.

Isolated System is one of three studio recorded songs with women voice in it (alongside We Are the Universe and Unsustainable)

Versions of the song are featured numerous times throughout the film World War Z, most notably during the film's opening introductory sequence and in short bursts thereafter. The film's narration used in the introduction in particular closely resembles the actual original song, in the form of a news broadcast.

The live version from The Unsustainable Tour, including the version on Live At Rome and whose lyrics can be found below, makes references to Cold War number stations. Number stations were used for espionage purposes, since they were almost indecipherable. Soviet number stations typically signed off with groups of zeros, implying that the 'number stations' featured in Isolated System are actually working in reverse or not at all.


Isolated System is performed on a tape, (except for some drum fills played by Dom and not actually by the band), despite featuring piano parts. As such, the band often used it during The 2nd Law Tour during the encore, often as an intro to Uprising, or as an opener to main set that leaded into Supremacy. If the song was played before Uprising, towards the ending of the song, Matt's makes noises on the Kaoss Pad to accompany the depressing end of the music video displayed on the stage screens, the Kaoss Pad noises would be played without stop until the transition into Uprising. Starting with 2013 year in The 2nd Law era, excerpts of Number Stations were played back during the song. Along with the addition of audio excerpts in 2013, you can also hear Morgan Nicholls experiment more and mixing in some random glitch noises.

More here


In an isolated system, entropy can only increase

(Random radio and TV transmissions broadcast on March 29th 2012 between 18:48 and 19:10)

In an isolated system, entropy can only increase

In an isolated system In an isolated system (entropy) Isolated system (Entropy can only increase) Isolated system Isolated Isolated (system) Isolated Isolated (system) Isolated (entropy) Isolated Isolated Isolated

Live Lyrics as of 25/5/2013 at the Emirates gig and 6/7/2013 at the Rome gig

In an isolated system, entropy can only increase

broadcast: "Radio enthusiasts across the globe started to notice strange beguiling broadcasts on the outer limits of the band, anonymous transmissions that all had a similar shape to them. Each had a call sign, followed by sets and sets of numbers, usually in groups of five. They are read aloud in simulated voices, in languages ranging from English and Spanish, to Czech and Chinese. Hour on hour, day after day, some so regular you could set your watch by them, all we can do is listen and wonder, but for now, goodbye."

4,0,0,0....... 0,0,0..... 3,9,7,1,5...... 6,6,4,7,5..... 9,9,2,7,4.... 9,2,9,3,2....

In an isolated system, Entropy can only increase In an isolated system, Entropy can only increase In an isolated system, Entropy can only increase In an isolated system, Entropy can only increase In an isolated system, An isolated system, An isolated system, An isolated system.


  2. Muse : on a écouté The 2nd Law en avant-première (2012-01-08). Retrieved 2011-09-08 from

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