Sunday 21 April 2024

Spellbinding Broadcasts

There's been more new things on the Broadcast front - after the re-release of Mother Is The Milky Way and the first official release of a bunch of live recordings on the Maida Vale Sessions, we're getting a new seleciton of previously unreleased demos. James Cargill of Broadcast did promise this some years ago, so it's nice to see them finally come out proper. Some of these I have heard before as they were (sometimes only briefly) on James' Soundcloud, but I imagine they've been polished up as best they can be for the proper release.

The demos are split into two albums, one Distant Call mainly focusing on demos of tracks that actually were eventually released. There is only one of them available for preview right now. It feels fairly final, there's not much difference between the final studio version in terms of structure - but it does have a lovely lo-fi sound which is something I've gained an appreciation for in recent years. I'd have liked a little peek at the early versions of the more electronic stuff from Tender Buttons, but I'm grateful for the preservation of these sketches either way.

The other album, Spell Blanket is entirely made up of unreleased demos, a massive amount of them to boot, clocking in at a fairly hefty 36 tracks. There are 2 tracks up for preview right now (which to be fair is probably the amount that I'd listen to, I tend to drip feed these things these days), and it's been wonderful to hear Trish's voice again in a 'new' context.

Follow The Light is suitably dreamy and once again quite fleshed out for something that is on paper a 'demo'. Having said that it's ver likely that it has been expanded upon from the original - there are moments when the tape hiss cuts out - a little jarring on a close listen but it's not too extreme to pull me out of the experience. Even so, a little bit of assemblage is on brand fro Broadcast. A beautiful slice of melancholy, and a wonderful choice for a 'preview' of the experience.

The Games You Play is the other preview-able track as of now and is another quintessentially Broadcast piece. Trish's vocal accompaniment feels very playful here, and the whole thing is nicely 'looser' than a full on studio piece (which feels like an obvious thing to say about a demo from a collection of demos I know) it reminds me a lot of the live bootlegs I have of the band where there's a lot of riffing and interplay improvisation between Trish & the band

It's still quite a ways away - September as of writing - but I'll be sure to keep this one on my radar. There's a lot to be excited for here, though I've heard some of these demos before it's nice to have them officially out there. Follow The Light is a beautiful listen, and one that has me enchanted by Trish's vocals all over again. It's looking like this might be the last material we get from them, but it's a fitting way to close things out. That'll be all for today, until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


Sunday 14 April 2024

Saving The Date

Had this scheduled for a while, normally I like to do these date posts for a quick stopgap, but as I'm sure you're aware it has been a hot minute since I've been around (more on that at the end) - so I figured I'd expand it out to somethin' a little bigger. Let's go.

Today we're talking Drukqs, the sort of black sheep of Aphex Twin's discography, and for a long time the last proper full length album from the man until Syro. Hefty in length - 30 tracks over 2 discs (rising to 34 with some bonuses if you snag the donwloadable version from AFX's Warp page), though some of them debatably shouldn't count towards that number - track 13 Aussois being 13 seconds of distant voices, Bit 4 is similar but with a two note warble. But I digress, we're here to talk about the flipside of the album, twinned with the usual Drill 'n' Bass you'll expect from Aphex are a fair few beautiful Piano interludes.

And we may as well start with by far and away the most famous of the lot and the namesake for this post - Avril 14th. Even those not into Aphex at all will probably have heard this in some format: it's been sampled a lot in addition to appearing in a wide variety of media, TV shows and other miscellaneous avenues. It's a perfect demonstrator of this side to the album - achingly beautiful and lovingly recorded in a way that you can hear lots of incredible small details on a close listen. It's not my favourite of this type of tracks on Drukqs, but it's one I will always stop and listen to if it comes up.

I'm going to jump around the tracklist a bit and shine a light on some of my choice picks from the list - the album actually opens with one, the comparatively noisy Jynweythek. Sporting an almost eastern influence in parts, it's very different from Avril while retaining that same overall sound. My favourite Aphex Twin tracks have always had a strong melodic component, it's something that he excels at, and Jynweythek has it in spades. It might not be dripping in acid or backed with ludicrous snare rushes, but something about it remains identifiably Aphex.

Drukqs feels like a very personal album - sometimes in very obvious ways - Lornaderek being a voicemail recording from Richard's Mum & Dad on his Birthday (Currently I am being pained by the realisation I am now older than him at the time of this album's release), the track titles heavily featuring a lot of Cornish language, the region where Richard grew up. Of course, the Piano songs have this inherent pang of nostalgia to them - but one that stands out most of all to me is QKThr, the sole organ track of the key-focused side of the album invokes coastal scenes effortlessly.

Retutning to more Avril adjacent territory next. The opening melody of Strotha Tynhe is one of the first to come to mind when I think of these tracks. Which is a little odd as it only really appears the once, the rest of the runtime flirts with returning to the same, but always with a slight variation. In my more arty moments I might say it's a fantastic depiction of the way things change over time. Very pretty either way.

Looping back around to the same sort of sound from Jynweythek for the penultimate selection. Hy A Scullyas Lyf Adhagrow might be near enough my favourite of the bunch, short and sweet but I could loop it a couple of times and be just as happy. Once again a great showcase of Richard's ear for melody, it's a very pretty listen, the ending note puts a nice full stop to things, would have made a nice end to disc 1 on it's own but there's another Piano tune that follows it.

The actual closing track on the other hand, Nanou2 is just sublime. Very understated compared to some of the other examples here, it shares little in common with it's prequel (that being Nanou from the Windowlicker EP), though that is also a lovely little bit of melodic machinations from Richard. Wonderfully structured and perfectly placed on the tracklist, it's one I can come back to time and time again and it never bores. Simply wonderful.

And that'll about do it for today, apologies again for the long abscence - it sounds cliché to say but I plain don't have as much time as I used to. I am going to try and make an effort to be around more, I have tons of ideas for posts but putting pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keys) is the hard part. If the day does come when I decide to stop completely I will be sure to say so and not just go full ghost. Until next time, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.