Oxford Point

The gap between ethereal and mundane shouldn't be so slender, but then Broadcast love to defy expectations...

The gap between ethereal and mundane shouldn’t be so slender, but then Broadcast love to defy expectations. A determinedly undanceable band (but signed to Warp), machine-led with an achingly human soul, their synthetic baroque pop is almost perfect. But such perfection is also their downfall.

Tonight’s gig is part of a short, low-key tour and Broadcast are crammed onto the stage, the intimate surroundings adding even greater gravity to their enveloping sound. Despite the heat of 200 tightly compressed bodies there’s a palpable chill in the air as ‘Long Was the Night’ uncoils eerily from the motley banks of analogue junk and Trish Keenan’s seductive voice weaves its way through the gently-pulsing machines.

Initially, Broadcast’s bookish anti-charisma actually aids their cause – there’s a real feeling that the band are mere conduits for some greater creative force – but the spell simply can’t last. The longer the set continues, the more Broadcast are content to wander aimlessly down the cold dark corridors of their daydreams, the hypnotic ‘Unchanging Window’ a brief moment of magic in a sea of desolate grey. You yearn for some of Pram’s genuine weirdness, Stereolab’s exotic cool or even Dead Can Dance’s crushing portent. Broadcast, for all their undeniable charm, can be incredibly dull.

Maybe they’re simply too emotionally detached. So, it’s no surprise that what finally rescues them is the brutal finale, ‘Hammer Without A Master’, which finds them locked into an incessant industrial groove with Trish’s voice reduced to a chilling howl. Maybe no-one’s ever told Broadcast they’re beautiful when they’re angry.

Ronan Munro