Snore & Guzzle Radio Hour #4 – library music, psyche and electronic for Broadcast
1. The Focus Group – Danse & Atoms
2. Antena – Noelle A Hawai
3. Roger Roger & Nino Nardini – Fender Theme
4. Mort Garson – Big Sur
5. Wendy & Bonnie – Children Laughing
6. Henry Mancini – Lujon
7. The Free Design – Where Do I Go
8. David Axelrod – Human Abstract
9. Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Hard -boiled babe
10. ESG – Chistelle
11. The Deep – Color Dreams
12. Rotary Connection – Lady Jane
13. Ennio Morricone – Ninna Nanna In Blu
14. The United States Of America – Coming down
15. Cecil Leuter – Pop Electronique No.1
16. C.A. Quintet – Ain’t No Doubt About It
17. “Ideas tickle in my tummy”
18. The Mind Expanders – Love Syndrome
19. Silver Apples – Seagreen serenades
20. Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan – Sonik Re-Entry
21. John Cale – Terry’s Cha-Cha
22. Gautam Dasgupta – Duniya Mane Bura To Goli Maro
23. GZA – Cold War
24. The Focus Group – Icicle wheel
+ 1 bonus track
TRT 1 hr. 6 mins
The radio show this time around is something of an homage to the band Broadcast. But not featuring songs by the band itself – rather, bands they like and have been influenced by. I started getting interested in the lineage of Broadcast because I happened upon a set of 4 radio shows they had done for their website. There was a set list on the page, but none of the files actually worked. The set list was intriguingly esoteric, so I embarked on a wee more research.
I’ve read a couple interviews with the band, but nothing has been terribly illuminating about their personalities or process. However, their radio shows proved to be a rosetta stone to their records. This radio hour is a montage of songs they’ve referenced, or songs that I just thought fit well.
Broadcast’s tastes cover lounge, exotica, 60s garage, psyche, New York noise, early tape and electronic music (a la Princeton electronic music center), new classical (Ives, Partch), soundtracks (mostly Italian), krautrock, moog records, Miami bass, space jazz and — most importantly — library music, especially French library music. If you’ve never heard the term, library music is just music that was intended as mood-setters for film and television, not for the record buying public. Library music is generally considered ephemera, but has found a small, devoted group of listeners. Among them: Stereolab, Tipsy, Beck, Cornelius, Matmos, (to some extent) the Beastie Boys, and more recently, James Pants. Luke Vibert curated an album of library music, called Luke Vibert’s “Nuggets,” which is a pretty good introduction to the genre (if you can call it that).
As a vocalist, Trish Keenan falls somewhere between Francoise Hardy, Vashti Bunyan and Nico. It’s icy, uninflected and borderline detached. But it’s the perfect complement for their sound. If you look at a wave form of one of their songs, her voice looks clean as a sine wave, and weaves in and out of the accompanying fuzzy analog noise and beats.
As DJs and connoisseurs, Broadcast clearly place a premium on that which is rarified. When asked by The Guardian UK if Broadcast had time for “more conventional canon of rock and pop,” Tim Fenton (the band’s original guitarist) replied, “Those bands go without saying for us. We love the Velvet Underground, but we also knew that we couldn’t do anything that interesting by using that influence. It would become a burden. We benefit from letting things into our life that we didn’t know about before.”
And this is why you won’t see any Velvet Underground, Nico, Can, Neu or Kraftwerk on this podcast. They go without saying. Bassist and founder James Cargill cited United States of America as the “main inspiration for the band.” The short-lived LA psyche band (1967-8) are the perfect template for Broadcast. It’s as if Broadcast is United States of America re-incarnate. And they just picked up where the original band left off. Which is a good thing, considering United States of America only made one album.
An important collaborator of Broadcast is Julian House, who is their resident graphic designer, occasional live DJ, and also a musician in his own right. As a musician, he goes by the name of the Focus Group. It appears as though House is the resident graphic designer of Ghost Box records, and his signature look owes a great deal to the European library records of the 60s and 70s. Songs by the Focus Group bookend this podcast.
I saw Broadcast perform live in 2004, in Scotland. It was a fairly intimate crowd, and the performance was supplemented by three 16mm projectors playing old science classroom films. It was not unlike how I imagine Andy Warhol’s projections were with the Velvet Underground, with the band partially bathed in the projected light. Cargill had this to say about the visuals: “All the imagery is collected from car-boot sales and stuff, it’s all kind of old science imagery and stuff. I just like the way it looks. We’re not sort of saying ‘oh isn’t this funny kind of imagery kitsch’ you know, we genuinely like the mood of it when we’re playing.”