review archive

Broadcast / The Wisdom Of Harry Kings Cross Scala, 12th October 2000

Woah! Haven’t seen/heard much from Peter Astor since the glory days of the Weather Prophets (‘Almost Prayed’, ‘Swimming Pool Blue’, Hey, thems were pretty jangle rockin’ songs, where’d my copy of ‘Mayflower’ go?), but now he’s back, Back! etc. With his new samplerama-dronin’ collective. The Wisdom Of Harry seems to consist of guitar-Pete, crop-headed in casual sportswear complete with white trainers, accompanied by a geezer (and I mean a geezer) seated at a beer-garden table tapping at some circuit boards (okay, this electronic lark phases me). Joining them is some bloke hiding behind the curtains with a keyboard.

goggle eyes 1
The first song is a mournful country-tinged twang with Peter’s voice sounding spookily familiar from those Janice Long shows of yore. Then it all goes a bit squiffy, the second song a mantra-drone building beats which sound like a hip-hop version of those plip-ploppy bits in Orange Juice’s ‘Rip it Up’. Samples and loops fade in and out. Third song is dirgey with hints of ‘Screamadelica’. Kind of lose track of the droning and dirging, but the final song is fab. Starting off like ‘Loaded’ overdoing it on the woodblock, with the same driven chug as JAMC, the vocals are a filtered-through-the-Reid-brothers murmur. Thunderousness topped by tambourines.
goggle eyes 2 Downstairs, there’s a polite audience (cheers tall bloke for noticing that you block a normal sized kitty’s view when you stand directly in front) desperate to be transported to Broadcast land. This is a place built on dim memories of a brown veneer childhood by roll-necked seventies scientists with one eye on outer space and the other inspecting the delicate intricacies of an organism languorously expanding on a microscope slide. Or that’s what the slide-show backdrop conjures up anyway.

The exquisite ennui of the album ‘The Noise Made By People’ is shaken from the songs to become something fiercer. The sleepy menace building with the volume. Trish’s voice has a pure, abstracted hypnotic quality adding to the unsettling feeling of the playground-simple tunes. Peter Paphides got it dead right in his piece in ‘Time Out’ recognising the ’quite terrifying’ music from ‘Picture Box’* as playing a part in the Broadcast sound.

‘Come On Lets Go’ is greeted by the crowd (and one girl in particular having her own personal freak-out) like the big hit it never was. I start getting the sensation that I’m at some warped ‘60s ‘happening’, enhanced by the flickering slides and Trish’s beat-girl silhouette. It’s far better than I’d been expecting, not having seen Broadcast since a support slot circa ‘The Book Lovers’. (24th July 1996 supporting Tiger at the Garage, anoraks!) It’s a lot less polite, the band in full control of their intricate sound, songs twisting under your skin.

There’s a reverberating, thrumming encore, (‘Hammer Without A Master'?) a bit Stereolab but with less of their machine-like precision. Something more human and a lot eerier is going on here.

*Go to www.tv.cream.org and listen to the ‘Picture Box’ theme. See what I mean?

Now go to www.broadcast.uk.net and listen to the Broadcast Radio Mixes for more ear-warming sounds.

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