At the time of Trish Keenan’s passing away two years ago, Broadcast were working on an original soundtrack to alt-horror movie ‘Berberian Sound Studio’, and its release in 2013 using takes from sessions with Keenan was not only a fitting tribute to an essential member of the group, but a haunting and poised piece of work in its own right.
The album is a substantial collection of taut miniatures, mostly clocking in under 2 minutes, which create a sense of overwhelming suspense not through straightforward drones or similar, but by a sense of constant volatility. Take ‘Monica’s Fall’, where blood curdling guitar screams and a smashing bottle puncture a domestic conversation in Italian to leave a lasting impact in 24 seconds, or ‘Saducismus Triumphatus’, where the minute fluctuations in the ticking of a clock convey a sense of dark tension through restricted means and duration.
These sharper moments are beautifully offset by passages of luxurious instrumental lilts, with ‘The Gallops’ recalling the sinister English power of the Wicker Man in its breathy alto flutes and toy percussion. It is the experience of listening and re-listening to the soundtrack apart from its visual counterpart which makes ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ so fulfilling, with the sounds suggesting a narrative that the listener is an alluring distance from, particularly if they don’t understand Italian. Ultimately, Broadcast offer much more than an accompaniment, with the record suggesting a space through which the imagination can wander freely without a dogmatic storyline dictating the meaning of this richly ambiguous record.