Record Reviews

Broadcast and the Focus Group | Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age

Broadcast and the Focus Group
Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
From some eerie laundromat/wind tunnel of orange-tinted 1960’s production
values, this indefinable electro-pop album hails forth with a series of
songs and sound fragments that is deeply listenable, highly adventurous,
and ecstatically unpredictable.
Witch Cults is Birmingham, UK pop group Broadcast’s collaboration with
electronic artist the Focus Group. Whatever sonic raw material here has
been mutated into something utterly other, yet non-artificial. This is
electronic music with a focus on acoustics, and the squalls and echo
chambers, organs and vocal harmonies all come through with a rich, analog
aesthetic.
I’ve been giving this repeated listenings along with another album I bought
recently, the Rolling Stones’ most psychedelic outing Their Satanic
Majesties Request. Witch Cults seems to be in some way a distant answer to
that album, an inheritor of distinctly British weirdness that along the way
picks up new soundmaking habits but remains moored in a cryptic, pagan
fantasy.
A few tracks seem to be redigesting the shuffling turntable-crunchy beats
and flute loops of Portishead, but for the most part this album scorns
trip-hop tropes in favor of bold explorations in sound, gorgeous
atmospheres that dream up giant empty buildings and solitary nights.

BroadcastAndTheFocusGropup_InvestigateWitchCultsFrom some eerie laundromat/wind tunnel of orange-tinted 1960’s production aesthetics, this indefinable album lands somewhere between electronic and rock. A series of songs and sound fragments that is deeply listenable, highly adventurous, and ecstatically unpredictable.

Witch Cults is Birmingham, UK pop group Broadcast’s collaboration with electronic artist The Focus Group. Whatever sonic raw material here has been mutated into something utterly other, yet non-artificial. This is electronic music with a focus on acoustics, and the feedback squalls and echo chambers, organs and vocal harmonies come through as a rich blend of analog and digital.

I’ve been giving this repeated listenings along with another album I bought recently, the Rolling Stones’ most psychedelic outing Their Satanic Majesties Request. While very different, Witch Cults seems to be in some way a distant answer to that album, an inheritor of British psychedelia, cryptic pagan fantasy under a cool modern surface.

A few tracks seem to be redigesting the shuffling turntable-crunchy beats and flute loops of Portishead, but for the most part this album scorns trip-hop tropes in favor of bold explorations in sound: amazing atmospheres ranging from ethereal folk to sci-fi soundtrack.

On Warp.

-Justin Allen

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