Trish Keenan, singer for English dream-pop band Broadcast, has died of pneumonia at age 42. She had reportedly contracted the H1N1 virus, better known as swine flu, while on her way back to England from Australia. Complications from the flu developed into pneumonia and she had reportedly been in intensive care since Christmas. She died on the morning of January 14.
Broadcast formed in Birmingham, England in 1995. Early releases were met with critical acclaim and favorable comparisons to Stereolab, though their sound was often darker and more atmospheric. Psychedelic cult band The United States of America were also a prominent influence on Broadcast’s sound. Singles and single compilations were issued on Wurlitzer Jukebox, Stereolab’s Duophonic Super 45s imprint, and Warp Records, but the band didn’t release a full-length album until 2000’s ‘The Noise Made By People.’
Considered by most to be their masterpiece, ‘The Noise Made By People’ cemented Broadcast’s position as retro-futurist pioneers. As the noughties moved along, Broadcast’s sound grew increasingly dark and electronic, littered with obscure samples and avant-garde noise. By 2005, the quintet had shrunk to a duo of Keenan and original bassist James Cargill.
In 2009, Broadcast and The Focus Group’s Julian House released a collaborative album called ‘Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age.’ Many of the 60s and 70s influences which were always present in Broadcast’s music became more apparent than ever. Syd Barrett whimsy, vintage electronic sounds, vocals alternating between sing-song lullabies and haunting, spectral echoes are all collaged together into an electro-psych-folk pastiche that is truly otherworldly.
In a way, ‘Witch Cults’ was a fitting record for Broadcast to end on: simultaneously retrospective and forward looking, it can be seen now as a summation of Broadcast’s sound, where they came from and where they might have gone. One could almost even imagine a journey through the afterlife sounding like this album.
Rest In Peace, Trish Keenan.