Album Review: Broadcast 2000

By on Wednesday, 7th April 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Based in a London flat, classical music graduate Joe Steer has taken on the moniker Broadcast 2000 for his computer-aided folk music. In his own unique take on the genre, Steer plays a variety of acoustic instruments himself – including double bass, cello, guitar, ukulele, glockenspiel and percussion –  and then loops and layers them using a computer.

While his first EP, ‘Building Blocks,’ was essentially bedroom recordings, Steer has tried with his self-titled full-length debut to retain his music’s un-polished, low-fi charm, while spicing things up a bit with new collaborations. Tom Hobden of Noah and the Whale provided some violin parts, while producer Eliot James (Kaiser Cheifs / Bloc Party) helped put the finishing touches on the songs. Steer says on his website, “The idea of getting a ‘proper’ producer on board to help finish the recordings wasn’t really to change my sound, but to allow me to thicken out the arrangements and add many more layers of instrumentation than I could with my basic recording setup at home…I still wanted it to sound like I recorded it in my bedroom, but this time as if I’ve crammed a full orchestra in there!”

Steer & Co. have indeed managed to create a richer sound than what would be expected from what is essentially a one-man-band. But unfortunately, there isn’t much variance within that sound. While it’s pleasant to listen to, over the course of the short, 30-minute album many of the tracks seem to blend together. The biography on Broadcast 2000’s website says “As a live band Steer has assembled his own mini-orchestra of exceptionally talented London based musicians who together give his songs a thrilling life of their own.” I can’t help but think that he would benefit from having their input on the studio recordings as well, as it would bring more ideas into the mix and result in more variety.

Though the album is a bit underwhelming overall, a couple of the tracks do stand out. The plucked guitar, tinkling bells and violin on ‘Get Up and Go’ dance intricately around each other and provide a stunning background for the refrain, “Now I’d like to know/can we get up and go?” The layering of Steer’s vocals works particularly well in ‘All Is Said and Done.’ The sound in the verses is rich and intricate, but the chorus is stripped down to just the vocals and a few plucked chords. ‘Broadcast 2000’ has a good sound, but it doesn’t live up to its potential, nor does it really stand up to repeated listening. Hopefully for the next album, Joe Steer will focus less on the music sounding like bedroom recordings, and more on adding some interest and variety to the songs.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/8542847[/vimeo]

‘Broadcast 2000’ was released on 15th February 2010, and is available now through most major retailers.

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