The Birmingham, England band led by Trish Keenan left an indelible mark on the post-shoegaze sound of the ’90s and ’00s.
It’s a Tuesday and we woke up with Trish Keenan on our mind. Keenan, who was lead singer of British band Broadcast before her untimely death in 2011, fronted a group who rose from the post-shoegaze scene of the mid-1990s to become a singular, if under-acknowledged, force. Let’s let Keenan lay it out, though. Here’s her and Broadcast – which she cofounded with bassist James Cargill in 1995 – performing “Winter Now,” from 2003’s Haha Sound. The album will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Friday.
“I’m in orbit, held by magnet/And the force feels so much closer than love,” Keenan sings on “Pendulum,” also from Haha Sound. This fan-made clip is from a gig in London, 2003, a few months after the record came out.
Let’s back up six years. It’s 1997 and Broadcast gets booked on a still-relevant MTV, where they set up in a studio to perform their early track “The Book Lovers.” Originally issued on Stereolab’s ever-collectible Duophonic Super 45s label, Broadcast reissued the song on the Work and Non-Work EP after they signed to Warp.
The 2000 video for “Come On Let’s Go” beams in on Keenan’s neutral, almost ambivalent approach to performance. The second of two singles from the band’s first album, The Noise Made by People, it hums with a post-Krautrock energy, but with the underlying adoration of 1960s pop music.
The video for “Papercuts” merges sound and vision to create an intensely explosive experience. It employs a tubular device called a Dream Machine, which was first built by sound and visual artist Brion Gysin. Meant to be placed on a rotating turntable, it causes tripped out visuals the longer you gaze into it.
Keenan was a sparse lyricist, one who moved between meditations on desire to awestruck, Emily Dickenson-ian lines on the power of nature. “I found the fragrance separate from the flower – in all the logic I was lost,” she sings on “I Found the F,” the first track from their brilliant 2005 album Tender Buttons.
And, finally, though the below clip is sideways, shaky and handheld, it also manages to capture Keenan at the Troubadour in Los Angeles during a 2009 set.