I first heard Broadcast’s “Long Was The Year” back in 2000 on WFMU’s webstream. The attraction was instantaneous. Pulsating feedback and cavernous production shimmered with a strange, magnetic beauty, the bassline was pure ‘60s Los Angeles pop. Percussion and hand-wired pop electronics descended in dense, shifting layers of melody. At the center was the voice, a gorgeous presence exuding mystery and enunciating Sleep, long and fast, Let the past be the past with icy-warm reserve. This was Trish Keenan.
It was one of those momentous, too-rare minutes that changes you, even as a hardened music fan. Reality unspools a little, new worlds open up.
Broadcast defied all experiences of getting extremely excited by a group only to learn the remainder of their work was largely mediocre. Rather, to dig into the Broadcast discography was to submerge oneself deeper in a universe of glorious sound. It was a universe shockingly aligned with my own tastes, my own sensibilities, my own ideas. Broadcast made it easy to think that this universe had been constructed precisely for me.
Again, defying all pop music patterns, Broadcast’s attractiveness only strengthened in ensuing years, even with my once-ardent enthusiasm for contemporary music continuing to fade. With each new release Broadcast broke ground in some new way, forever expanding their sparkling vision into new fringes of the cosmos. Each new Broadcast release was worth obsessing about because Broadcast had obsessed about it.
Every fan will have their favorite album or song. For me their magnum opus will always be 2003’s Haha Sound. It’s one of the best albums of the 21st Century. It’s one of the best albums, period. Their last full-length release – 2009’s Broadcast & the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age – was magnificent, a kaleidoscopic, extremely psychedelic collaboration with simpatico artist Julian House, and a long-overdue addition to their sterling discography.
Details about Broadcast in the media have largely and rightfully concentrated on their music. Perhaps that’s why it’s impossible for me – merely a musical admirer – to separate Trish Keenan the individual from Trish Keenan of Broadcast. One senses, though, that Broadcast’s music was, at least in some way, an embodiment of herself. It emanates deep intelligence and an inquisitive spirit, one excited and haunted by the creative possibility of inner worlds.
It’s been some small comfort to read different personal accounts of Broadcast’s music since Trish Keenan’s tragic passing several days ago. My own experience is hardly unique. But Keenan’s music meant a great deal to me. And now a beautiful world has sadly closed.
Deepest condolences to her family and friends. Goodbye Trish Keenan, may you rest in peace.