Dismember the Good Times
The sad, surprising fade into the background of retro-electro act Broadcast does’t stem solely from lead singer Trish Keenan’s tragic death from pneumonia in 2011. Keenan and last original band member James Cargill also made conscious decisions running counter to the reputation they once staked, and you can hear some of them in their score for the 2012 British horror film, Berberian Sound Studio.
The duo had already been cut down from a quartet when studio album Tender Buttons and rarities comp The Future Crayon came out in the mid-2000s, and when they hooked up with Julian House’s experimental project The Focus Group in 2009, the resulting album used the guise of library music to hammer Keenan and Cargill’s once smooth spy-pop into uncomfortable, jagged splinters. Broadcast double down on this formula on the soundtrack for Berberian Sound Studio.
Broadcast assemble a loose tapestry of melodic themes (“The Equestrian Vortex,” “Beautiful Hair”), abstract interludes (“Mark of the Devil,” “Found Scalded, Found Drowned”), and clips of Foley artists and Italian dialogue lifted from the movie, à la Tarantino. This is a recursive album, a soundtrack full of sound effects for a movie about making sound effects. There isn’t enough substance to raise this release above the level of curiosity.
There are as many tracks here (39) as on Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ soundtrack for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, yet it clocks in at just 37 minutes, making it an exercise in grabbing at slippery musical eels. And frankly, if Keenan contributed vocals here they’re damn near impossible to find. All this moves Broadcast from their past dreamy spookiness to just plain spooky, and it bodes poorly for the final Broadcast album Cargill wants to assemble with archival Keenan recordings.