Lead by the charismatic and soulful vocals of Milly Hirst and the driving music of James Ferguson and Mark Jennings, the British electronic outfit known as Broads give a harmonic anthem to originality with their new single titled ‘Climbs’, off of their upcoming album titled ‘Field Theory. By combining electronic with acoustic via a stellar string ensemble courtesy of Connie Chatwin (violin) and Fifi Homan (cello) as well as an ethereal horn piece courtesy of Owen Turner, ‘Climbs’ gives a perfect audio union-merging multiple genres in a way that only true musical pioneers can. This is deep.
Broads will release their ‘Field Theory’ album on February 16 with their album release party scheduled for February 15 at the Norwich Arts Centre, in Norwich, Norfolk, England. For now, the first single ‘Climbs’ is available for download and the album can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp.
British electronic duo Broads have announced that they’ll be releasing their new album ‘Field Theory’ in the new year. But for now, they present the first single from that 11-track album, called ‘Climbs’, which features mesmerizing vocals from Milly Hirst, who also co-wrote this track with band members James Ferguson and Mark Jennings.
Mainstays of the Norwich music scene, Broads deliver a variety of music – always delicious – ranging from synth-pop bliss to a hybrid fusion of genres straddling the divide between ambient drone, post-rock, and shoegaze. Broads takes a fascinating approach with this album, tastefully showcasing completely different sides of their musical spectrum.
‘Climbs’ recalls Melody’s Echo Chamber and Broadcast, while ‘The Lecht’ brings to mind both Mogwai and Boards of Canada. ‘Mixed Ability Sequencing’ most strongly aligns with My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, leaving you hanging with less than a minute of pure guitar reverie, while ‘Habitats’ brings the duo delightfully close to New Order territory.
After several releases as a solo artist, James Ferguson says Broads’ dynamics started to change with the release of the ‘Hellas’ LP (Jan 2016), undergoing a kind of sonic breakthrough with Mark now joining James for live shows and co-writing one of its tracks ‘Soft Homo’ – the first time Broads had really arrived at their now-signature sound, marrying droning, lo-fi synths, and slow build through repetition with straightforward electronics.
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Broads started to perform more around Norwich and occasionally in Cambridge, Suffolk, and London. By the time Broads released their split album ‘Local Closures’ with Mark’s other project EPIA, they were opening for Mercury Rev at the Norwich Arts Centre, followed soon after by Broads’ third album ‘Everything is Spinning, Nobody Is Actually In Charge’ (December 2016) with Mark and James once again co-writing.
Some very cool developments were happening for the duo, including work on a live soundtrack for the British Film Institute – composing for a sequence of archive film footage of rural/agricultural Norfolk scenes, and performing live in beautiful venues across the region – as well as a sold-out gig at the NAC with Plaid.
“Finding the balance between space and rich texture is something we’re really interested in, and hopefully something we’ve started to achieve on Field Theory,” explains James Ferguson. “The sound of the album is very much influenced by the recording environments and our geographical context as a whole – Norwich is kind of isolated, surrounded by expansive, flat landscapes and big skies.”
“For us, it’s a really big deal – our first record written as a 2-piece, and the first time we’ve had any sort of budget to spend,” says Mark Jennings. “We got support from Arts Council England to make everything happen and that has given us the chance to really take time over our writing, programming, editing, and recording, and get some amazing people involved with making the record – especially Owen Turner (Magoo) who recorded quite a lot of it and mixed the whole thing.”
Apart from the geographic factor, Broads took inspiration from left field on this album – from road biking in the Scottish Highlands to news of George Romero’s death, Purity Ring’s second album and Unwound’s ‘New Plastic Ideas’, as well as a lot of old sci-fi and horror movies.
“A highly hypnotic track with several monotones, it tastefully combines gorgeous violins and repetitive hook-lines over four quickly passing minutes. With no percussion, it glides endlessly from start to end in a stream of lush, clinical beauty… occupying the same territory as Melody’s Echo Chamber, Plaid, Craft Spells and Hibou”
– Louder Than War
“We love the vocal stylings and sound textures on this track. Northern Transmissions are lovers of ambient/post-rock, Broads do this well”
– Northern Transmissions
“The rich, reverb-heavy, repetitive drones of their set bring to mind a synth-led version of Mogwai or even Vangelis at his best… Surrounded by synthesizers, the two of them play mostly live rather than cueing through Ableton Live or another such laptop wizardry, helping to give it all a warm, fun, fuzzy feeling and it is the absolute antithesis of the cold, harsh precision that you can get from some electronic acts”
– Outline Magazine
- Us and the Buzzing
- Let Me Take It From Here
- Mixed Ability Sequencing
- The Lecht
- Built Calypso
- Music by Broads (James Ferguson/Mark Jennings)
- Lyrics on ‘Climbs’ by James Ferguson and Milly Hirst
- Performed by James Ferguson and Mark Jennings, with help from Milly Hirst (vocals), Connie Chatwin (violin), Fifi Homan (cello), Joe Bear (drums), Stacy Gow (drums), Owen Turner (bass, horns) & FMSAO (electronics)
- Produced by Broads & Owen Turner
- Artwork by Paul Escott
- Live Photos by Matt Tullett