Friday 4 June 2021

ALBUM NEWS: Public Service Broadcasting - 'Bright Magic'

Oh PSB, I absolutely love you. As Steve Lamacq so beautifully put it a few days ago when premiering their new track on the radio, Public Service Broadcasting exist in "a genre of one". Over the past few years, I've felt that some artists might have been trying to emulate what PSB do, but nobody does it with such passion and endless creativity, and with such marvellous results. After being introduced to their debut album by a friend on a train journey in 2014, I was very quickly drawn into a love affair with their music. There are very few artists where I remember my first listen quite so vividly, which might be saying something... 

Much to my delight, they've just announced their fourth studio album, Bright Magic, due September 24th. A celebration of Berlin and its creative culture, the announcement arrives alongside the first track from the record, the incredibly hypnotic People, Let's Dance, featuring guest vocals from Berlin-based EERA. The track incorporates a guitar riff from Depeche Mode's People Are People and takes its title from a chapter of Rory MacLean's Berlin: Imagine A City. The accompanying video is equally brilliant, with synchronised roller-skaters against a city backdrop, directed by Chloe Hayward

Each PSB record brings with it an overarching theme, most recently the Welsh mining industry on Every Valley and the space race on The Race For Space. New record Bright Magic is an album in three parts (Building A City, Building A Myth, Bright Magic) and brings us to Europe's heart, the cultural and political metropolis that is Berlin. 
J. Willgoose, Esq. explains: "doing this felt inevitable, somehow. In my head, it was whirring and pulsing away for a long time, even before Every Valley - this fascinating, contrary, seductive place. I knew the album was going to be about the city, and its history and myths, and I was going to move there. So it's quite a personal story. It's become an album about moving to Berlin to write an album about people who move to Berlin to write an album..."

Willgoose did indeed move to Berlin, from April 2019 to January 2020, soaking up the city to directly influence the record, and writing and recording in Kreuzberg's famous Hansa Tonstudio. One particular instance saw Willgoose walking the Leipzigerstrasse, the site of the city's first electric streetlight, using a wide-band electromagnetic receiver from Moscow's Soma Laboratories.... "I walked up and down recording electrical currents and interference. You can hear a few of these little frequency buzzes, clicks and impulses in Im Licht (a song inspired in part by pioneering lightbulb manufacturers AEG and Siemens). It's what I was trying to do in the wider sense, I suppose - to capture those tiny little pulses you pick up while walking through a city."

What differs here however, is that the new record uses samples (and, indeed, the English language) sparingly. From the response I've seen to the announcement online though, I'd say that PSB fans are more than happy with the news (me included!) and have taken the single to their hearts already. I can't wait to hear more and see where the record takes us... holiday to Berlin, anyone?

Pre-order & pre-save Bright Magic here.

PSB are touring the UK later this year - dates and ticket links here (on sale next week, I believe).

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