written by Chris Familton
Merging the experimental and avant-garde with more traditional song form is a skill that few musicians manage to pull off successfully. Peter Broderick is one who has proven he can straddle the conceptual fence with his forays into classical composition, soundtracks, traditional folk and contemporary indie guitar-based music. Though he has released many recordings in the interim, the cumbersomely titled http://www.itstartshear.com is essentially his followup to the 2008 album Home which found him inhabiting a similar world primarily composed of voice and guitar.
Broderick is obviously a fiercely creative person and as such he has created a full web experience around the album with notes, lyrics and audio for each song and the facility for people to leave word, image, video and audio responses. Though this smacks of ‘concept album’ it isn’t one, instead it is a wonderfully constructed and beautifully recorded (courtesy of musician in his own right, Nils Frahm) album. The opener I Am Piano is centred around that instrument while drawing sparkling, dancing melodies from accompanying strings, wurlitzer and celeste. It is an introduction to an album that delights in beauty and intimacy, both in sound and the themes of Broderick’s songs. At various points he sings about a romantic letter exchange, killing a bird in his car, remembrance of friends departed and tributes to inspiring influences and it feels like a love letter to all that has formed Broderick’s world.
Though the predominant style is reverent folk of a contemporary slant there are departures like It Starts Hear which variously recalls Belgians dEUS and Massive Attack with its trip hop, low slung bass and beats. Many songs start with minimal instrumentation and tentative vocals before blossoming into billowing pieces of music. Asleep and Colin are two songs that take the album’s template and stretch it into epic widescreen vistas with swelling choir of voices, urgent strings, drones and field recordings. http://www.itstartshear.com is a concept, a bold idea yielding fascinating and moving music.
this review was first published in The Drum Media