BROADCAST: The Future Crayon (Warp Records)


Posted on Aug 19th 2006 01:13 pm

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Broadcast: The Future Crayon

The Future Crayon
Warp Records 2006
18 Tracks. 69mins31secs

Transmitting from Birmingham, Broadcast have, in the ten years they have been around, progressively crafted a very unique place for themsleves on the British music scene. While their first EPs, originally released on Wurlitzer Jukebox and Duophonic and later collected on Work And Non Work for Warp, showed similar inspirations to those of long-term friends Stereolab, from the DIY avant-garde of the seminal BBC Radiophonic Workshop to the psychedelic of The United States Of America or the Silver Apples and the sweeping cinematic beauty of Ennio Morricone, Broadcast have progressively developed and refined their very own blend of experimental pop, which they have deployed over three albums and countless EPs.

Alongside their Microphonics releases, Broadcast have always favoured a more experimental approach on their EPs, using this shorter format to push their own boundaries and test new ideas. The Future Crayon collects eighteen tracks released between 1998 and 2003. If the band’s first album, The Noise Made By People (2000), took years to take shape, the accompanying four EPs released during the following year was the demonstration of a rather prolific period of bubbling creativity for the band, with tracks such as Illumination, Daves Dream, Hammer Without A Master, Test Area, Poem Of Dead Song or Locusts reinforcing the band’s vision as they were uncovering new sonic territories, while the revised versions of Unchanging Window (Chord Simple and Unchanging Window/Chord Simple) revealed the original’s multiple layers and gave it an entirely new dimension.

The Future Crayon is not just a collection of rare tracks for fans but a deeply honest and sincere document of the band’s evolution. These tracks bridge the gaps found in between each one of their albums and provide a more accurate vision of how the changes have happened. It is, for instance, possible to hear the premise of the barer, more abrasive sound of Tender Buttons in the songs taken from the 2003 Pendulum EP. Small Song IV in particular appeared to catalyze the transformation from cleverly ornate pop to minimalism, but Minus Two or Violent Playground equally introduced a wide section of new elements which would later take centre stage in the band’s work.

There is something truly organic in the way Broadcast have evolved over the years. Sometimes dictated by members leaving, at others the result of hour after hour spent refining exactly what defines them, this process is ultimately intricately linked to the band’s sound. It is therefore surprising to notice how well these apparently disparate tracks work well together, despite the fact that they are presented here in non-chronological order. Unlike Work And Non Work, which at times felt disjointed and lacking direction, The Future Crayon is extremely consistent all the way through and could actually pass for a piece of work in its own right. This is no mean feat, and is a strong testament of Broadcast’s ability to finely balance pop and experimentations.

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