Monday, 17 January 2011

Trish Keenan

Last Friday afternoon I learned the devastating news that Trish Keenan of Broadcast had passed away earlier in the day. I haven’t felt so distraught at the death of someone I don’t know personally since John Peel died. On the bus early Saturday morning, I listened to ‘The Noise Made By People’ again. As with all of Broadcast’s albums, I played it and played it when it came out, but haven’t listened to it for a while. The drifting, gently otherworldly songs matched exactly with my view of headlights smudging the twilight and London landmarks looming out of the murky grey morning. When ‘Come On Let’s Go’ came on, something about the way Trish sings the word ‘go’- her ‘Hello children everywhere’ singing voice cut with a hint of Brummie – was really upsetting, really brought home the fact that she’s gone.

I’ve been listening to Broadcast a lot the last couple of years, their last release, in conjunction with The Focus Group, ‘Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age’ was utterly perfect, from the sleeve art to the incidental found sounds to the esoteric influences of the songs, and the accompanying hauntological videos, it seemed to chime with my current interests, and Trish seemed to embody all that was intriguing about the record. I don’t have many ‘role models’, but Trish was one, a woman with a real fascination for and love of odd and obscure musics. Interviews with her and Broadcast partner James Cargill would reveal a rich seam of interesting records, films, books and artists I could then go and investigate. Even better were the Broadcast Radio Mixes the pair put together, full of weird and wonderful Library music, Radiophonic clips, spectral folk, curious electronica etc. Earphones in, I could walk around in a world haunted by Broadcast’s charity shop, crate digging finds. It was great to see a woman fully immersed in what’s usually seen as a geeky bloke’s universe. Women can be geeky about music too. And Trish managed to be geeky and look cool at the same time, her style mutating from second-hand 60s dresses to priestess of a beat coven. Last year I couldn’t resist buying a dress that was on sale in a musty ‘vintage’ shop on Holloway road. I thought of it as my ‘Broadcast dress’ because it looked like something Trish might wear.

Lately, I had been eagerly awaiting a new Broadcast album, excited to find out what path the band might take next, wondering whether they’d explore further the experimental territory they mapped out during the improvised first half of their 2010 Ether Festival performance. I’m so glad I got to see this, their last London show, it was the kind of concert that thoroughly absorbs, takes you on a journey, so that when it ends you look about blinking, feeling like you’ve woken from a lucid dream. I’m going to keep with me the image of Trish, abandoning her table of analogue synths for one song to take centre stage, singing in her pure, soothing voice, gliding backwards and forwards whilst a monster projection of her shadow veered across the back wall, the mesmerising focus of the ritual.

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