Into Music Album Review: Public Service Broadcasting – Bright Magic

Artist: Public Service Broadcasting
Album: Bright Magic
Label: Play It Again Sam

It’s been 4 years since the last Public Service Broadcasting long player (Every Valley) was released but that will change with the imminent arrival, on 24 September, of new album, Bright Magic.   

The album’s focus is the city of Berlin, considered to be the cultural and political epicentre of Germany and perhaps even Europe. Moving to live there for the best part of a year, the band’s virtuoso, J.Willgoose Esq. immersed himself in the sounds, sights, smells, influences, history and its beating heartbeat, to draw inspiration and support his personal narrative which would eventually lead to the eleven tracks we have here. 

The album is split into three parts (Building A City – Building A Myth – Bright Magic) and sees a continued evolution of the band’s sound with less reliance on sound clips and more layers and styles evident, providing the listener with plenty to explore and discover. 

First track Der Sumpf uses bird sound in the background before the band come in with a brash statement, electronica waves pulsing across a cinematic backbeat. An early statement of intent. 

Throughout, defined electronica, classic krautrock, underground dance, industrial noise and sonic guitar are to the fore on what is an accomplished and solid album by PSB. 

Der Rhythmus der Maschinen is a case in point. The track features a spoken vocal/monologue by ex-Bad Seed/Einsturzende Neubauten member Blixa Bargeld. It carries more than a hint of violent urgency and is the type of machine driven dance track that you’ll hear in the best underground bars and clubs in the city or anywhere else for that matter.  

Elsewhere, the early single release, People, Let’s Dance, has a distinct Euro beat to it (courtesy of Depeche Mode’s People Are People) and features vocals by Berlin-based musician EERA. 

Andreya Casablanca, from Berlin band Gurr, provides the vocals on the track Blue Heaven on what is perhaps the album’s stand out track. It’s certainly the most commercially friendly song and if it doesn’t, at least, get your feet pumping, you’re likely dead from the neck down, it’s an absolute banger featuring exploding guitars, angelic vocals and a crescendo that will leave you gasping for more. 

 

Gib mir das Licht immediately follows and is the perfect antidote, a jazzy dream-like track which captures the more laid back, reflective pulse of the city. 

The album was recorded at Hansa Tonstudio where the likes of Bowie, Depeche Mode, Tangerine Dream and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds recorded over the years. The ghost of their influence pulls through here, providing a platform for Public Service Broadcasting to weave their own expressionism and creative art throughout. The Visitor is a track of grandeur, booming synthesizer sounds with a nod to Bowie. The album cover art was designed by Berlin artist, Torsten Posselt and the album title is also derived from a short story collection by Berlin novelist, Alfred Doblin.  

The album ends with Ich und die Stadt. The sound of rain falling, the musical notes in the background, provide a bombastic lament to the spoken word vocal – the final chapter closed on what adds up to a record perfectly enveloped in the city of Berlin, its microcosms and its vibe. 

Bright Magic by Public Service Broadcasting is released on 24 September. To order the album and to keep up to date with news and upcoming tour, visit their website here

John Welsh

@welshjb

Links:
Twitter: @PSB_HQ

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