Wednesday, April 3, 2013
I cradle a hope in my heart that Broadcast will one day go down as Legends.
Its funny, because they gave me such hope in modern music that I actually seek out new bands now, something i had never done before (tho i have always been a deep digger of older obscurities). What's so funny about that is that the more new bands that i hear the better Broadcast becomes. I get a better understanding of the context and content of modern (and by modern i mean, 90's and up) music and i understand that my 20+ years of bitching about how modern music sucks was not terribly off the mark, actually. It just makes Broadcast a billion times more special.
They are satisfying on so many levels. If you want spooky pastoral, they can take you there. If you want to move your ass, they can take you there as well. If you want freakout movie music, psychedelic dream pop, or avant garde experiments, they got it all.
It is a bit frustrating for me that their biggest hit was "Come On Let's Go", which i have to count as probably my least favorite song of theirs. Not only does it not represent the guts they had, but it sounds like a compromise, something i am confident they never partook in.
but that's what makes them great. here is a band who could make a pop hit, then go off and do something like "Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age", an album i would rather be mauled to death slowly by a pack of rabid wolves than consider living without. Of course, there were quite a few years between "Come On" and "Witch Cults", and its almost like juxtaposing "I wanna hold your hand" with "Sargeant Pepper". It simply didn't give you any clue as to where this band was gonna go.
If i could force anyone to spend some time with one record, i would choose that one. There have been a few times with friends, late at night out in my outdoor psychedelic living room with the colored lights going and some good weed, and this record will be on and in one of the spooky moments someone will say, with a shiver, "Wow, this is really psychedelic". The way they say it always has a twinge of the fear in it, like how you feel when you are standing on the verge of a good hallucinogen. and the fact that Broadcast do this without relying on any of the trappings of the neo-psychedelisists like sitars or moany long-winded "The End" send-ups is quite amazing. For all their worship of The United States of America, french pop (Trish called Clothilde's sole LP her favorite album of all time and yes, it is bloody fantastic) and the sixties in general, no band in my mind has made those influences their own so deeply as they did while sidestepping the Antiques-Roadshow syndrome of so many sixties revisionists. Even in their early, Stereolab-worshipping days, they always came off as completely their own thing. The territory they traversed is completely their own.
i recently heard a radio show from 2011 available on the archive.org, called "Goodbye Girl", which was a tribute to Trish after her death and also a look at the whole West Midlands hauntology "scene", if you want to call it that. Apart from the songs by Plone, Pram, and the older stuff (Basil Kirchen, the aforementioned USA etc), all the new bands they played absolutely blew. Then they would play a song by Broadcast and you were just blown away by how more fully realized their sound was. And not once did they mention the Ghost Box label, which just goes to show you how little they knew. The Focus Group is by far the best band on that label, but Belbury Poly are pretty good, and Hong Kong in the Sixties have a number or two that are decent. But Focus Group's "Sketches and Spells" is just gobsmacking, an essential companion to "Witch Cults", which Julian House (EXCELLENT graphic designer and cofounder of Ghost Box and sole man behind Focus Group") collaborated with them on.
Of course, then she had to go off and fucking DIE, leaving a legacy unsung and so much work yet to be done. Yes, there was the soundtrack (fucking BRILLIANT) to "Berberian Sound Studio" and James Cargill (whom yes, i will admit to having a bit of a crush on, he IS a handsome lad) is putting together one last Broadcast LP from the tapes Trish left behind, which has to be a heartbreaker. Your woman and your band mate is dead and you get to stay behind curating. It takes alot of brawn to heft a load like that. I will buy twenty copies when it comes out, even if it is the worst record ever made.
In the meantime, go and have a read at this. And if you are reading this, go and buy pretty much every damn thing this band ever did, and start with "Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age' and don't say I never did you any kindnesses. That is all.