I went on holidays to Lanzarote in January. Flying home, I found myself listening to the strange electronic music of Broadcast, a wonderful accompaniment to my sleepy flight. The next day I learned that Trish Keenan of Broadcast had died following swine flu complications. People die all the time, particularly people involved in the world of music, but her death affected me a bit more than most. She is roughly the same age as me and was struck down not by some crazy rock star ailment but by a very everyday disease that could strike anyone at any time and usually just makes them a bit poorly for a couple of days. If the dice roll badly for her, they could for me too.
Keenan's death came at a time when my interest in the music of Broadcast was on the up. I had gone off them a bit around the time of Haha Sound (I had found that album a bit tuneless, though now I think perhaps it was just a transition from the faux-60s sound of their earlier recordings). I found reading about the recent album they had done with the Focus Group fascinating. It seemed like Broadcast were moving decisively in an almost occult direction, trying to become modern hierophants fashioning a spectral music evoking imaginary cults of cyber magi. The pictures of Broadcast that appeared in The Wire at this time were rather striking, with Keenan having put her youthful good looks behind her in favour of an aspect more akin to that of a high priestess of secret wisdom.
And now she is no more. I am very sorry now that I did not get to any of the festivals Broadcast played last year and I think with sympathy of James Cargill, her musical and life partner. Listening to the album Broadcast made with the Focus Group, I am struck by how spectral the record sounds. Now with Keenan actually dead, yet still able to sing to us from when she was alive, it is like she has herself become a ghost of the electronic age.
This is of course my second piece on Trish Keenan. You can read its rather similar predecessor here.
An inuit panda production