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Broadcast
HAHA SOUND
(Warp)
Stars graphics

Like their æsthetic peers (and former record-label bosses) Stereolab, English brainiacs Broadcast have extracted a series of sonically compelling albums and singles from a collection of antique keyboards that Yes organist Rick Wakeman would envy. But whereas Stereolab use those rarefied tones to craft tunes best heard while lounging listlessly around zero-gravity space-age bachelor pads, Broadcastís creaky, creepy synth-pop attempts to say something about the unnerving frontier between man and machine. Something vague, if you pay attention to the words frontwoman Trish Keenan sings with such elusive beauty. "Logic offers no defense underneath this influence," she intones coolly over a hard krautrock groove in "Pendulum," "while this puzzle of intent holds emotion in suspense."

But zero in on the racket Keenanís bandmates make ó carefully structured, yet with a looseness and a tilt toward noise that gives it real juice ó and youíll catch all sorts of suggestions of that friction. Like the way the ambient fuzz in "Man Is Not a Bird" keeps trying to choke James Cargillís bouncy bass line, or the automated harpsichord trickles in "Lunch Hour Pops," or the factory-funk clatter in the tambourine part of "Ominous Cloud." Coming from a scene known for its design fetish, Broadcast nonetheless sound as if they werenít quite in control of where their songs are heading. And thatís an accomplishment in itself.

BY MIKAEL WOOD


Issue Date: November 7 - 13, 2003
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