Trish Keenan, frontwoman of Broadcast, died this morning in hospital from complications with pneumonia following a lengthy stay in intensive care, according to a statement issued by Warp Records this morning. Their statement continued: “Our thoughts go out to James, Martin, her friends and her family and we request that the public respect their wishes for privacy at this time. This is an untimely tragic loss and we will miss Trish dearly – a unique voice, an extraordinary talent and a beautiful human being.”
In the mid to late nineties a select group of fine bands came out of Birmingham with a shared love of psychedelia, film scores, Krautrock, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, library music and the possibilities of analogue electronics – Pram, Plone, Magnétophone, Novak. Broadcast stood out from the crowd as the most approachable while still cleaving to a space age noir sonic world of their own.
While they made no secret of their primary debt to LA electronic pioneers The United States Of America, around that they created a world simultaneously at hock to 1960s retro-futurism and modern aereated circuit bending symphonic ambience in warm, gorgeous pop form. If it was Stereolab who coined the term “space age bachelor pad music”, Broadcast were rewiring the room’s electrics to match the lush mood. The sumptuous elegance of Keenan’s coolly delivered vocals were key to installing the mood, sometimes gentle and wistful, fragile without being slight, at other times somnambulent, haunting and bold. Her lyrics could be cryptic, partly due to her occasional utilisation of automatic writing, but often bore weight as snapshots of love and society.
Broadcast were formed in 1995 by Keenan, James Cargill, Tim Felton, Roj Stevens and Steve Perkins. After singles on Wurlitzer Jukebox and Stereolab’s own Duophonic Records, they signed to Warp in 1997 and compiled that early material onto the debut album Work And Non Work. ‘The Book Lovers’ later found its way onto the Austin Powers soundtrack. Their first album of fresh material, 2000′s The Noise Made By People, was a dreamy wash that attracted the attention of Radio 1 and Later… With Jools Holland. The album featured the single ‘Come On Let’s Go’, a spooked gem that took Joe Meek and Delia Derbyshire’s teachings into a beat pop format so accessible that BBC Sport used it for their Sven-Goran Eriksson tribute montage after he left the England managerial job. 2003′s Haha Sound was more propulsive, more carefully arranged and more in tune with spectral pop abstractions. By 2005, down to Keenan and Cargill, Tender Buttons stripped the sound back to a haze of keyboards and spare beats that put more emphasis on Keenan’s dreamlike vocals. 2006′s The Future Crayon collected rarities released mostly between 1999 to 2003, while 2009′s Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age was a collaborative (with Ghost Box’s Julian House) exercise in library music and spectral ‘hauntology’.
In the last few years Broadcast have been increasingly cited as an influence by pop-minded sonic adventurers. Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox recorded and toured with them in his Atlas Sound guise, of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes listed Haha Sound as his favourite album of the 00s when asked by Ragged Words, and Animal Collective booked them for their curation of All Tomorrow’s Parties this coming May after they played a stand-out set at the Matt Groening curated weekend last year.
Broadcast had reportedly been working on an album of new material alongside a soundtrack score.
The Line Of Best Fit offers its sincere condolences to Keenan’s family and friends.