Friday, September 24, 2010

Broadcast: Study Series 04: Familiar Shapes and Noises [2010]

Whoa...I mean, whoa. I think Broadcast have gone on a lysergic holiday. After releasing a decade's worth of good-to-excellent dreamily melodic, slightly distorted keyboard pop which often sounded like Stereolab's younger, goth cousin, they seem to be taking a sonic detour into more abstract sculptures of spooky noise. I saw them play live at the Troubadour in November 2009, when they were touring in support of Broadcast & The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age, a collection of soundtracky noise fragments interspersed with a few actual songs. The record, as experimental as it was (at least in terms of its detour from more familiar Broadcast music), was no preparation for the live show, which began with a very long, intense instrumental (imagine a particular loud, unhinged, electronic, backwards Interstellar Overdrive) performed in front of a very aggressively trippy, black-and-white visual barrage of a video installation. The record's mention of "witch cults" perhaps explains what coven Broadcast had joined. Their path into electric horror movie acid trip soundtracks continues with their most recent release, the single Study Series 04: Familiar Shapes and Noises. This title is rather inaccurate, as the three songs' shapes and noises are more of the witch cult madness—it's odd that this unfocused music is going under the formal group name Broadcast & The Focus Group. I hope that they apply their passion for fragmentary noise to their songwriting; they have always have a good ear for squeezing weird noises out of keyboards. But this single, like the last record, has more weird soundscapes than weird songs, and while I do like the exploratory sonics, I feel like Broadcast could be casting better spells than this eye of newt, tongue of bat stuff. If you like Animal Collective's ODDSAC, you will probably like this; if you'd rather have a cup of tea with Tender Buttons, you might want to wait for them to come down out of their tree.

Here's "Inside Out" from Broadcast's Study Series 04: Familiar Shapes and Noises [2010]:

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