When i saw the press release that the Norwich UK electronic band was collaborating with Milly Hirst, my first thought was "It will be cool to hear them with a vocalist!" For you see: i had no clue who Milly Hirst is. Turns out, she plays piano.
So this record comes across as something kind of between the Cocteau Twins collaboration with Harold Budd, and one of those meditative Windham Hill records by George Winston. It's a lovely, mellow sort of thing. The collaboration works rather well.
The record starts off with Ms. Hurst on Happisburgh, playing a slow piano piece, notes echoing and pretty. In the background are faint electro effects, and as the song grows, a wave of static overwhelms the piano. And then, inexplicably, is a recording of footsteps on gravel and a child's voice. The piano comes back more forcefully, joined by layers of other tinkling sounds. Very pretty.
Thetford is a slower and more ponderous number, with each note spaced out and allowed to echo on its own. At about the midway mark a clicking, ticking glitch beat starts up and the song becomes early Autechre alongside George Winston. More and more sounds are layered in -- whooshing noises like air organs and layers of keys soaring, the layers building until the music is dense. It's really a beautiful piece and i think that the collaboration really shines here, Ms. Hirst's piano blending with and accompanying the electro bits nicely.
Those first two tracks took up about 15 minutes, which is not that atypical for this type of electronica. The next track is a mere interlude of under 2 minutes. It is called Oulton and consists of layers of voice (a choir sample?) looped over a clattering sound like a church bell recorded from a few blocks away. It's a nice ambient found sound kind of piece and seems the most purely Broads song on the record.
Hirst is back in the lead on Octagon where her piano tinkles alongside the hum of an electric light, a scattering clattering sounds (like someone rummaging around in a cafeteria), and faint voices. A nice blending of the found sound ambience and piano.
My least favorite track on the record is next. Strangers starts out with the piano insistently plinking up front and close, only to eventually be overwhelmed by an electric hum. Then it pops and suddenly there is normal piano, which is again swallowed by industrial noise for a long hissing fade out into Dereham, which is a nervous end to the album. Dereham is strange sounds clattering and wavering, more of a pretty pattern than chaotic noise. It's a nice conclusion to the record.
Broads continue to impress. They seem to have some pretty interesting ideas, and bringing in a pianist was a nice idea.