Archives for posts with tag: Broadcast

English ‘retro-futurist’ experimental art-pop band Broadcast’s journey through music at times evoked imaginary old children’s TV theme music and art-house movie soundtracks. What makes their music so distinctive is the sometimes familiar – yet not from this world – eclectic style of the music, with its assorted elderly synth tones and BBC Radiophonic Workshop style bleeps and noises, together with Trish Keenan’s calmly haunting singing, often of strange surreal/ absurdist lyrics.

Tragically, Singer Trish Keenan died from pneumonia early in 2011, making their odd, dreamy, timeless pop even more haunted and affecting. Since then there have been re-issues of the original albums and compilations of singles and EPs in 2015, but the announcement of three archival releases this month was a pleasant surprise. Here’s “Sixty Forty” from a 2003 BBC Maida Vale studio session:

Sixty Forty” – Broadcast’s cover of a song from Nico’s 1981 “Drama in Exile” album – was previously only available on a 2009 Warp Records compilation Warp20 (Unheard).

“The BBC Maida Vale Sessions compiles four of Broadcast’s live performances at the West London studios between October 1996 – their first session for the John Peel show the same year as their first single release – and August 2003, by which time they had released their “Haha Sound” album. It was a period that saw them devolve from a more expansive kind of eerie psychedelic pop into even more experimental electronic noise pop as the group reduced to the core duo of James Cargill and Trish Keenan. “Sixty Forty” here is perhaps an early sign of what was to come two years later on their “Tender Buttons” album.

While most of the remaining songs will be familiar from their studio releases BBC sessions always seem to bring out something fresh in bands. This album also includes a song they did not record on any subsequent studio release – “Forget Every Time”.

Broadcast release three archival albums on the 18th March 2022 via Warp Records – Microtronics – Volumes 1 & 2, Mother Is The Milky Way, and BBC Maida Vale Sessions from which “Sixty Forty” here is taken.

Our Day 16 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Call Centre” by Les Baxters

Les Baxters, described as a “tabletop electronica quartet” emerged 7 years ago from the post-earthquake Christchurch/ Ōtautahi experimental sound scene. The NZ ensemble is made up of long-time friends John Chrisstoffels (The Terminals, Dark Matter), Dave Imlay (Into the Void, No Exit), Paul Sutherland (Into the Void, Fence), and Erin Kimber (Sheet Sweater). They draw on a love of sci-fi movie soundtracks, Deutsche Elektronika, goth-doom, and ambient techno, using vintage synths, Theremin, Casio beats, and found recordings to create their music.

While the name references the master of kitsch exotica, US composer Les Baxter, who released dozens of albums of soundtrack music and exotica (including Yma Sumac albums) in the 1950s and 1960s, the NZ Les Baxters are (much) less about kitsch exotica, and heavily into experimental sound collage and old/odd instruments.

If there’s a style to describe such a varied collection of sound-making, it probably aligns closest to the UK “hauntology” scene, but with the retro-futurist aesthetic given a more international – and experimental – scope. Best example of where this sits in the landscape of sound would be the classic album Broadcast And The Focus Group ‎– Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age. In other words, adventurous, multi-layered musical sound-art that the listener can get lost in for a long time.

Les Baxters eponymous album is available on LP and digital from CocoMuse Releases.

Horology“Horology” is the name of a wonderful album of lush cinematic retro-futurist pop by UK duo Red Red Eyes. Here’s the slow burning “Wildfires” from the album:

Slow lush long-form pop can be hard to do well, and “Wildfires” manages a few twists and turns as it flares over 6 minutes.

The album “Horology” contains 9 gems that are, yes, occasionally reminiscent of that peculiar timeless style and audio world Broadcast occupied, particularly the bit that was a kind of lush cinematic pop-noir homage to an impossibly cool and completely imaginary past of exotic European films we never saw, and journeys we never made, other than in our fevered imaginations.

The twangy guitars of Xavier Watkins sometimes evoke John Barry film scores and even some Morricone type hints too but Laura McMahon’s low-impact vocals draw the focus inwards creating a more intimate listening experience when the guitars are not blazing off in flights of delirious fancy.

Behind the guitar arrangements and voice are some mood-enhancing keyboard washes, synth bass pulses and motorik drum-beats. Add this all together and “Horology” is an album that fits together very beautifully inside itself, if that makes sense. A perfect musical soundtrack for a road trip at night too.

It’s on WIAIWYA of course – all the usual formats. Get it.


“Golau Arall” (which translates from Welsh as “Other Light” in case you are wondering) is from the 2015 Gwenno album “Y Dydd Olaf”

The song – and the whole album – evokes a different world. Part terrestrial (motorik bass & drum pulse) and part extra-terrestrial (the effect-drenched semi-whispered vocals and sci-fi electronic instrumentation).

Anyone with a fondness for the brightly-coloured retro-futurist pop of Stereolab or the playful sound-collage experimental pop of Broadcast will find plenty to entice them here.

Ten years ago Gwenno Saunders was part of  The Pipettes and singing about space (sort of). There’s a political theme here too – possibly even a concept album of a dystopian human-machine future where Welsh is used for cryptic human communication.

For non-Welsh speakers you might think the language used to convey socialist and feminist themes undermines the effectiveness of these messages. But singing in a minority language in the Western-UK-US music world is itself a political statement, a point made in this  interview with Gwenno from The Seventh Hex.

Here’s another brilliant song from the album”Chwyldro” (Revolution) –

Ego_Vanilla Docherty Photography

Ego (Photo by Vanilla Docherty Photography)

This new single from the young Sydney ‘dreampop/ shoegaze’ band Ego is a wonderful way to start 2016. Ego released my favourite song of 2015 – “Moon” and this impressive new tune “Crowd” is more of the same, but different.

What is the same is the engaging and melodic soft-rock songcraft, the vocal style, psychedelic swirl of reverb guitar and another of their distinctive space-rock guitar solos.

What’s different is a song that’s more urgent than the previous two, with a twisting unusual chord progression and a developing confidence in expanding that lush sound into vast cathedrals of almost-infinite reverb and also delay effects.

The guitar lines channel the spirit of Vini Reilly/ Durutti Column circa the 1980 Return of the Durutti Column album and when guitarist/ vocalist/ songwriter Scout’s voice first comes in the delivery and melody is eerily reminiscent of Trish Keenan in Broadcast.  That’s a winning combo-double to my ears.

They are set to release a debut EP early in 2016. “The EP will sound really different to this, much more like our first single Moon” they say.



Day Ravies_Liminal Zones press photo
PopLib usually features songs rather than album reviews. It’s hard enough to write about one song let alone a dozen or so. But an exception will be made for the exceptional “Liminal Zones” – the 2nd album just released by Sydney band Day Ravies.

Day Ravies have been a fixture on the PopLib stereo for the past few months since discovering their early 2015 releases – the “Hickford Whizz/ Taking Your Time” 7” single and the perfect 4 song cassette EP “Under The Lamp”. Both these exploratory releases indicated Day Ravies were moving a little further from their debut album “Tussle” and its generally ‘shoegaze’ daze.

In hindsight though, “Tussle” is a much broader, satisfying album revisiting it now than it was on first impressions. Amongst the gazey guitar effect shimmer there are plenty of hints of the raw guitar/ keyboard pop side developed further on “Liminal Zones”.

If there’s a new sonic template on “Liminal Zones” it’s the ‘co-lead’ role of keyboards – often outrageous squirty synth – duelling with the swooping, restless guitar lines. There’s not much shoegaze influence to be heard now but what’s here instead is a wondrous mix of a distinctly Australian gritty post-punk/ New Wave with something more timeless and European. Amongst an album of standout tracks an early favourite is the precocious New Wave art-pop of “Nettle”.

“Liminal Zones” has a solid foundation provided by Caroline de Dear’s weighty overdriven bass lines and Matt Neville’s inventive drumming (and occasional drum machine programming). Over top Sam Wilkinson’s guitar playing oscillates between scouring fuzz, swooping feedback dive-bombs and chiming chorus pedal effects. Lani Crooks’ keyboards dial in an exuberant mix of 80’s New Wave, European motorik, garage rock and Day Ravies’ own variation on Stereolab via Broadcast. Often all this is swirling around in the same song.

The other essential part of “Liminal Zones” is the more confident mixing of vocals which highlights another of Day Ravies’ strengths. Lani Crooks’ measured and sophisticated cool plays well against Sam Wilkinson’s melodic rasp. The variety and personality from each the two voices is a big part of the album’s appeal for me.

Sometimes (like pre-album single “Hickford Whizz”) those angular lead guitar lines, and Sam Wilkinson’s vocals, may suggest a reminder of the early sounds of Australian post-punk pioneers The Go Betweens . Other times (like the sombre “Skewed”) dark psychedelia of The Church in their early form may come to mind.

But there’s also frequent use of sounds and sensations which bring to mind My Bloody Valentine, Broadcast and Stereolab. However, the way these tracks are crafted, arranged and recorded, together with the character the members of Ray Davies all collectively imprint on their songwriting, adds up to a distinctive and recognisable sound of their own.

“Liminal Zones” is a perfect combination of characterful songs and an eclectic variety of styles and sounds. It’s consistently fresh and engaging and frequently delights and surprises. It’s also a bit rough-hewn and home-made which keeps it real and vital for me. A new Australian classic album.

“Liminal Zones” is released on Day Ravies’ own label Strange Pursuit (CD and DL) and also on Sonic Masala (LP – neon pink & standard black options). Beko Records in France (which released the excellent 7″ single earlier this year) is stocking the album in Europe if you are in that part of the world and want to save on postage.

Death and vanilla

I don’t know much about Death And Vanilla. But I do know I love everything I’ve heard from them. They fly beneath the radar and appear to want it that way. Their records (lovely vinyl with stylish design aesthetic) are released in small runs (< 500) and sold via their label's Bandcamp page or discerning stores like Norman Records (UK) and Aquarius Records (US). They sell out very quickly. Here's what I know, or at least believe to be the case: they are from Malmo, Sweden. They may or may not be a duo.

Their first EP has recently been re-issued. You can listen to it here:

Anyone familiar with Broadcast and even early Stereolab will find some familiarity here. There's a shared love of 1960s film soundtracks and incidental music, retro-futurism, instrumental psychedelia, analogue synths and other old instruments. Their whole catalogue is a hugely satisfying listen, so this song and this EP is only really a starting point for your discovery.

Death And Vanilla – Ghosts In The Machine from Death And Vanilla on Vimeo.


I first discovered Broadcast late in 2010. I’m not sure how this English ‘retro-futurist’ experimental art-pop band escaped my attention for a decade. Like a creepier and more adventurous Stereolab, Broadcast take a very English journey through music evoking imaginary old children’s TV theme music and art-house movie soundtracks. What makes it distinctive is the blend of Trish Keenan’s calmly haunting singing, sometimes strange surreal/ absurdist lyrics, jazzy break-beat drumming and assorted elderly synth tones and BBC Radiophonic Workshop style bleeps and noises.

I became so captivated with Broadcast I’ve been steadily buying everything I can find. I’ve had a compilation of it all playing continually in my car for the past month. Tragically, Singer Trish Keenan died from pneumonia early in 2011, making their odd, dreamy, timeless pop even more haunted and affecting.

The best place to start discovering Broadcast is at the beginning. The compilation of early EPs called ‘The Future Crayon’ is a good way to round the best of those up. The best place to obtain the Broadcast catalogue is at

Here’s Broadcast performing ‘Unchanging Window’ on Later…

There is a new Broadcast album out on Warp Records early in 2013. It is collected together from a film soundtrack Broadcast were working on at the time of Trish’s untimely death.

This review of the album by Alexis Petridis in the UK newspaper The Guardian also has a bit more background on the band:

There is a very candid, informative & interesting interview with Trish from 2001 which appeared in #14 of Chickfactor fanzine: