Friday, 25 February 2011

TRISH KEENAN [R.I.P.] BROADCAST - live Melbourne December 2010 + Haha Sound LP (2003) + Pendulum / The Black Cat / America's Boy videos

The third tragic death early in 2011 is a difficult one to consider. Commenting on the passing of artists who have meant so much to me at a distance is hard enough, but to do so about someone I've known personally is far harder. Trish Keenan, singer with experimental electronic band Broadcast, died in Warwick hospital on January 14th from pneumonia after contracting swine flu on tour in Australia. She was just 42.

Since their first singles appeared in the mid-90s on Stereolab's Duophonic label, Broadcast steadily built a small but devoted cult following across the world. Their first album The Noise Made By People was released on Warp Records in 2000, followed by Haha Sound in 2003 and Tender Buttons in 2005. The rarities compilation The Future Crayon was released in 2006, and their last outing was the mini album Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age in 2009.

Their sound is hard to categorize, chock-full of competing currents - Stereolab to psychedelia, loose avant-garde abstractions to tightly disciplined krautrock, cut-down minimalism to lush soundtrack sweeps - all held together by Trish's beautiful voice. The band attracted attention from fans across all musical genres and some celebrity endorsements; among them Blur's Graham Coxon, singer/actress Zooey Deschanel and Simpsons creator Matt Groening, who included them among his choices when curating summer 2010's All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Somerset.

I knew Trish through non-musical circumstances, having taught her at Birmingham university on the Creative Writing BA. It's to my eternal regret that when she told me she was a singer I assumed - based on my own careless stereotype of her personality formed through assumptions about her writing style, mode of dress etc. - that she was in a folk band and gave it little further thought. Only after she had left the university and I saw her on the cover of The Wire magazine in 2009 did I realise she was in Broadcast; indeed, from 2004 she was one-half of the band with her partner James Cargill.

She was fiercely proud of her Midlands working-class roots, had strong opinions and could be forthright in presenting them, but she was so unaffected and egoless that it's no surprise she didn't mention Broadcast in our discussions. I wish she had; we had a far greater musical appreciation in common than I'd suspected. Although I wasn't a Broadcast fan at that time I'd heard a couple of tracks and would certainly have delved into their back catalogue to discover earlier just how good they were. It only registered after looking through their youtube videos that I'd actually caught the band's appearance on Jools Holland's TV show back in 2000, but of course I'd forgotten all about it when I met Trish several years later. After reading the Wire piece I did get their albums and became a fan belatedly.

One always assumes there will be time and opportunity to catch up again and rectify old mistakes but alas, in this instance there is none; a further example, should it be needed, of our precarious and fragile grip on this existence.

THIS is a link to download a single 66 minute mp3 file of Broadcast's penultimate concert, at the Hi-Fi club in Melbourne on December 9 2010. Sincere thanks to youtuber insleepsound for providing.

You can download the tremendous Haha Sound album HERE.

01. Colour Me In
02. Pendulum
03. Before We Begin
04. Valerie
05. Man Is Not A Bird
06. Minim
07. Lunch Hour Pops
08. Black Umbrellas
09. Ominous Cloud
10. Distorsion
11. Oh How I miss You
12. The Little Bell
13. Winter Now
14. Hawk

The following videos are: Pendulum, from Haha Sound; The Black Cat - directed by Trish herself - and America's Boy live at KCRW, both from Tender Buttons.

- pendulum

Lastly, links to a couple of the better print tributes; from and Fused magazine.

Cheers for the music Trish. I wish I'd got to know you better.


  1. A lovely tribute.

  2. I adore Broadcast and only stumbled upon them a couple weeks after she died. strangely enough, my best friend had died just a couple weeks before as well, and delving into their music knowing she had passed added a melancholy strangeness to the discovery. They are now one of my very favorite bands and i have turned many people onto them. What a shame that horrid pop bands flourish while someone like Trish has to pass. May they become legendary.

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