Broadcast, Berberian Sound Studio
A sublime, sad reminder of a remarkable talent lost
When it came to soundtracking Peter Strickland’s horror film Berberian Sound Studio, about a British sound engineer working for an Italian film company in the 1970s, there could have been no other name on the list than Broadcast. The band, aka Trish Keenan and James Cargill, were recording this album when Keenan died from pneumonia in 2011, age just 42, and it is a sublime, sad reminder of a remarkable talent lost. On their own albums, the pair’s haunting songs are constructed from elements that evoke half-remembered television themes, or a ghostly folk group transmitting from the future. It’s rare that a soundtrack album constructed from fragments of music and snatches of dialogue is a rewarding listen, but Broadcast — perhaps because they are so adept at creating otherworldly sounds from pop’s detritus — managed it beautifully here. Some of the tracks are genuinely unnerving, such as “Mark Of The Devil,” its mean electronic pulses and chants sounding like wraiths in charge of a power station, or the guttural gabbling of “A Goblin.” These terrifying moments are contrasted with pastoral instrumentals, built largely from flute, xylophone and organ, which could soundtrack a cold, misty morning as well as the original film. A bewitching last Broadcast.