The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'broadcast'


Andy Votel has written a tribute to Trish Keenan, and it's as splendidly illuminating as one might expect from him:

While transcending pop whims Trish's growing passions had recently found her moving into creative writing, fiction and sound poetry. Any single piece of Broadcast's 15 year legacy is omni-relevant and as a constantly evolving and challenging voice. It's devastating to think that she had barely even begun her creative journey. She was one of the only people to persuade me to release a financially doomed spoken word record, she emailed me her own personal review of the record when it came out which made it totally worthwhile.
This is why Broadcast in many ways act as a clearly annotated instruction manual to my own otherwise nonsensical record collection. Losing Trish Keenan is potentially like losing the bag of Swedish screws. But her legacy represents the glue in my misinformed musical penchants. Her varied sonic mood board of Czech cinema, random Indian and Malaysian charity shop finds, Italian library music and French sound poetry - when added to her inimitable kitchen sink optimism - proved how an open mind goes hand-in-hand with super-creative communication. Again Trish, unknowingly, wrote the rule book. For selfish reasons alone I'm absolutely heartbroken to have lost her.

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News of the untimely death of Trish Keenan, frontwoman of experimental library-pop band Broadcast, has sent shockwaves through the music community. The Line Of Best Fit has a thoughtful tribute:

If it was Stereolab who coined the term “space age bachelor pad music”, Broadcast were rewiring the room’s electrics to match the lush mood. The sumptuous elegance of Keenan’s coolly delivered vocals were key to installing the mood, sometimes gentle and wistful, fragile without being slight, at other times somnambulent, haunting and bold. Her lyrics could be cryptic, partly due to her occasional utilisation of automatic writing, but often bore weight as snapshots of love and society.
In the last few years Broadcast have been increasingly cited as an influence by pop-minded sonic adventurers. Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox recorded and toured with them in his Atlas Sound guise, of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes listed Haha Sound as his favourite album of the 00s when asked by Ragged Words, and Animal Collective booked them for their curation of All Tomorrow’s Parties this coming May after they played a stand-out set at the Matt Groening curated weekend last year.
And here is a roundup of some illustrious indie musicians' responses to the news.

Meanwhile, someone has posted a music mix in tribute here, consisting of 17 tracks in a sympathetic direction. Alas, there is no track listing, but it's largely in a psychedelic direction.

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A sad day for music: Trish Keenan, the frontwoman of Broadcast, has passed away from complications of pneumonia, after battling with H1N1 flu for two weeks. She was far too young.

The world will be a poorer place without her.

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And here are my records of 2005, in no particular order:

  • Machine Translations, Wolf on a String*. Six tracks, subtle and impeccably produced, layering guitars, electronics and understated vocals, and with a great deal of thought in the arrangements and compositions. The title track is hauntingly lovely, and Miss China and Paris Road are low-key pop gems. The other three tracks are good too.
  • Broadcast, Tender Buttons. Their last album was a bit bland compared to The Noise Made By People; this one is a return to form. It's like early Stereolab playing on a Game Boy, all sparse, motorik grooves, gloriously dirty aliased waveforms and Trish's dreamy vocals.
  • Sambassadeur, Between The Lines EP. A four track EP, released in Sweden last year but the UK only this year, from another good Swedish indie band. They also released a quite decent album later this year, but for some reason, this grabbed me more. The title track of the EP is a joyous piece of upbeat indie-pop; the other tracks are fitting B-sides, pop songs with guitar, trumpet, melodica, and a bit of shoegazing feedback and Mary Chain-style fuzz.
  • Holidays On Ice, Playing Boyfriends and Girlfriends* Classy, polished indie-pop from various established Australian musicians, including Angie Hart of Frenté/Splendid; has echoes of Yo La Tengo. Even though the idea of a group of thirtysomething Australian band veterans releasing a record with an unbelievably fey title and a naïve picture of kids playing in the snow (presumably somewhere in Northern Europe or North America) on the cover does seem a tad contrived, the product is eminently listenable. Highlights include the upbeat pop of Sailor Girl, Speak-n-Spell-driven semi-instrumental Spell Happiness, the board-game-referencing (though not AIH-referencing) glock-pop of Fingers crossed and some of the instrumentals.
  • Minimum Chips, Kitchen Tea Thankyou* This one took me by surprise. After getting used to the Chips putting out one EP every few years, I did not expect them to drop an entire album one year after their last EP. But they did, and we get almost 50 minutes of Minimum Chips goodness: modular organ grooves, jagged guitar jangle, sophisticated Continental pop sounds filtered through Melbourne/Brisbane indie-rock, and Nicole's floating vocals, more "aaah" than "ba ba ba". ("Lady Grey", in particular, could be descibed as "Golden Brown", had it been written by Stereolab about tea rather than The Stranglers about heroin.) A few of the tracks were familiar from Minimum Chips gigs two years ago, and had only made it onto record now.
  • Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd, the Mysterious Skin film score Possibly the best thing Guthrie has put out since Victorialand. Ethereal and moody, like golden sunlight in a dream. The film was quite good too (though somewhat more disturbing).
  • The Winter Ship, Teardrops EP*. Four tracks of shoegazing post-rock goodness, with rather nice string arrangements, from the Melbourne instrumental outfit. Swimming Through A Narrow Space sounds not unlike Mogwai's Helicon 1 only with words. The other tracks are no less lovely.

* these are Australian releases with no overseas releases; you can buy them from here or here.

Honourable mentions go to Architecture In Helsinki, In Case We Die, Broken Social Scene's self-titled album (which I received only in the last days of the year, too late to fully get into, though I get the feeling it may be a grower), LCD Soundsystem's self-titled album, The Magic Numbers' self-titled debut (which has some strong guitar-pop tracks, though is a bit bland in places, and may not be a proper CD in all territories), Momus, Otto Spooky, Francis Plagne, Idle Bones (which has a few good songs and a lot of meandering ambient field recordings; were the ratio reversed, it'd be quite impressive), and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, #3.

It was also a good year for rereleases, with the entire Field Mice back-catalogue seeing the light of day again, in the form of new releases of Snowball, Skywriting and For Keeps, all extended with non-album tracks, and all three Slowdive albums (Just For A Day, Souvlaki and the exquisite Pygmalion) being rereleased—the first two with bonus discs full of EP and live tracks—through Sanctuary; meanwhile, neo-shoegazer Ulrich Schnauss's first album, Far Away Trains Passing By, is seeing the light of day again (good to see that Domino are using their NMECarlingnuwaveartrock windfall for good).

My gigs of 2005:

  • Belle & Sebastian playing If You're Feeling Sinister at the Barbican. They brought their second album to life really well, and played a few other favourites before and after it.
  • My Favorite, playing at Underbelly, 17 June. The last ever gig they did in the UK before breaking up. Their brand of immaculate, upbeat, New Order/OMD-influenced pop with lyrics of suburban alienation and existential angst really appealed to me.
  • One of the three Architecture In Helsinki gigs I caught on their two UK tours; let's say, for the sake of argument, the one at the Dublin Castle in Camden. Their live performances seemed a lot tighter and more energetic than they were when I saw them back in Melbourne.
  • Broadcast at Koko. They brought their new album to life quite well, and played some of their old tracks too.

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I recently picked up the new Broadcast album, Tender Buttons. It's an impressive return to form.

Their earlier work, Extended Play 2 and The Noise Made By People, caught attention with its combination of experimental sounds and swinging-60s-style psychedelic pop. (I haven't heard Work and Non-Work, and so can't comment on it.) With the album that followed, Haha Sound, they seemed to lose the plot a bit; the first track/single sounded like an attempt to jump on the electroclash bandwagon à la Goldfrapp, with much of the rest of it sounding like a mediocre Sound Of Music cash-in. With Tender Buttons, they've found their direction again, and it sounds like early Stereolab only made using a GameBoy; stripped down to a tightly focussed krautrock-esque angularity, with their trademark melodious vocals. And the presence of a track that seems to be a rant about US military oil imperialism or something of the sort similar probably won't hurt their chances (except perhaps of playing at any of Clear Channel's festivals or venues).

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Things I have been listening to over the past few days:

  • Broadcast, Haha Sound -- the followup to The Noise Made By People, follows on from it, combining '60s retro sounds, sweet vocals, clunky basslines and jangly tweeness with glitchy experimental electronica (which makes sense, with them being on Warp and all). The first song sounds like Julie Andrews or something, whereas the second one is the token attempt to ride the electroclash bandwagon (thankfully the rest of the album leaves that particular well-flogged horse carcass alone). Some of the interludes are quite nice too; in particular, the bad-acid-trip quality of Black Umbrellas.
  • Pizzicato 5, Happy End of the World -- Electronica combined with shagadelic retro kitsch, stylised as only the Japanese can do it. The lyrics are mostly in Japanese, and the music varies from drum & bass and house to Bacharach-hop, vintage film scores and lounge exotica. Very cute and quite groovy.
  • Cornelius, Point -- I didn't like this much; it's a bit on the bland side. Also, the birdsong samples sound like something you'd pick up in a New Age crystal shop.
  • Death By Chocolate, s/t, and Zap the World -- The product of an English schoolgirl's obsession with chocky bars and the Swinging Sixties. Wears its retro stylings very much on its sleeve, and is also interspersed with short spoken-word pieces in which the narrator describes what various colours mean to her and enumerates her favourite things. Most of the music is somewhere in Mid-State Orange territory. Possibly too clever for its own good.
  • Chicks on Speed, The Rereleases of the Unreleases -- A collection of tracks from Chicks on Speed combines laptop electronics, punk sensibilities and ironic detachment. Has some good moments (the ironic house track Glamour Girl, and their cover of The Normal's Warm Leatherette) and a lot of filler, including many <1-minute filler tracks. Annoyingly, though, the liner notes are printed inside the packaging, which means that the only way to read them is to tear it apart. Which was probably some sort of artistic statement.
  • Manitoba, Up In Flames -- this has been growing on me. Think My Bloody Valentine meets Múm. Understated, reverb-drenched vocals, glitchy beats and layers of environmental sounds, processed guitars, tinkling music-box sounds and odd instrumentals. I'll probably get Start Breaking My Heart, their (more electronic-sounding) first album, soon.

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31/12; 7 hours remaining (cont.):
Favourite CDs of 2000:

Cocteau Twins - Stars and Topsoil
A collection of some of the Cocteau Twins' best material from 1982 to 1990. Has some great songs, like Aikea-Guinea and Heaven or Las Vegas
Radiohead - Kid A
Yes, it was over-hyped; the press wouldn't shut up about it and your local Sanity/HMV had stacks of it. And yes, others said it was a load of wank. But once you get past that, you have an interesting album. Some have compared it to The Cure's Pornography, perhaps fairly, only with more of a Warp influence and some odd time signatures. Favourite track: probably How To Disappear Completely.
Minimum Chips - Freckles
An EP from a local act, in a sort of Stereolabish vein; hope they do a full album soon.
Baxendale - You Will Have Your Revenge
Electronic pop (though not synthpop) with tongue firmly in cheek. Some of the songs get boring after a while, but I Love the Sound of Dance Music is a classic.
Stone Roses - The Remixes
Some great reworkings of the Stone Roses, ranging from Rabbit in the Moon's acid-rave remix of I Wanna Be Adored (which sounds as if they could have done most of it with ReBirth) to Kinobe's mellow reworking of Elizabeth My Dear.
FourPlay String Quartet, The Joy Of
Their second album, with some great tracks, including a dub/klezmer two-part and a vicious-sounding PWEI remake. Their remix CD, slated for early 2001, will be something to look out for.
Piano Magic, Artists' Rifles
Arty and understated and hard to describe, though something I've been listening to a lot.

With honourable mentions going to Broadcast, Extended Play Two, Björk, SelmaSongs, Beulah, When Your Heartstrings Break, Deepchild, Hymns from Babylon, LTJ Bukem, Journey Inwards, Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out and Black Box Recorder's various EPs (mostly for the B-sides), (Note: this is counting only CDs I acquired this year.)

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