RIP Trish Keenan of Broadcast | New music reviews, news & interviews
RIP Trish Keenan of Broadcast
A short appreciation of a sadly missed talent
I'm absolutely horrified to hear of the death this morning from pneumonia, following a swine-flu infection, of Trish Keenan of the band Broadcast. I had only ever spoken to her on the telephone, but many friends knew her well and she was one of those rare people in music who was universally liked and admired by all who met her. Far more than just a singer and frontwoman, Keenan, 42, was a visionary artist: from their beginnings in the Birmingham alternative scene, she and her partner James Cargill, who always formed the core of the band, always blended art and life, and created a beautiful totality of sound, vision and mythos which made them stand utterly apart from all their contempories - although they were renowned for the support and creative encouragement they gave to all those around them.
Listen to Broadcast's 'Black Cat':
Broadcast were scholars of experimental art and music, Keenan was as adept at using archaic machines to manipulate electronic sound as she was delivering her own dream-like lyrics - which often came from use of techniques like the Surrealists' "automatic writing". A couple of years ago, I witnessed her and Cargill perform an instrumental electronic set in the Shunt vaults under London Bridge station, accompanying stunning Op Art animations, showing they were just as powerful making the most abstracted music as they were playing in a conventional band format.
Their experimentalism was never about awkwardness or alienation of the mainstream, though - everything they did was done in the pursuit of beauty. What makes this news today particularly heartbreaking is that they had just been finding their confidence as a duo, after years of shifting band line-ups: the loss of this kind and generous woman and huge talent truly is an immense loss to British music. Heartfelt sympathies go out to Cargill and all who knew or worked with her.
UPDATE: a friend in Birmingham who had become good friends with Keenan in recent years has passed me this link for a "mixtape" she gave him very recently. It's the most wonderful collection of psychedelic rareties, film music and synthesiser experiments, and perfectly illustrates Keenan's constant mission to turn people on to exquisite and unusual sounds - but also, as the tracks are not titled, shows the sense of mystery and incentive to investigate with which she imbued all her work.
To quote my friend David, "Before she went to Australia Trish sent me a mix CD of bonkers pop music she compiled, I never thanked her. It's called Mind-Bending Motorway Mix and I want to share it with you, please pass the link on, share it far and wide, it's a little tribute to a (as a friend referred to her today) exhilarating woman, we're all thinking about you, James.
"Sorry I don't have a tracklist and to be honest I like it that way. I think it's less about who you're listening to on... that compilation and more about the fact you are listening to something that Trish took time to select and compile for me and in turn yourselves. Sorry but please just enjoy the music."
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