Public Service Broadcasting – Bright Magic (2021) [FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Public Service Broadcasting – Bright Magic (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/44,1kHz | Time – 45:36 minutes | 539 MB | Genre: Indie Pop
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Play It Again Sam

This fourth album from the London post-rock act fronted by J. Willgoose, Esq. is themed around his move to Berlin. Inspiration for the record came in the form of Walter Ruttmann’s experimental audio work Wochenende – of which excerpts appear here – as well as from David Bowie’s seminal 1977 album Low, which was recorded in the same studio. Fittingly, Blixa Bargeld – the founder of Berlin’s industrial pioneers Einst”urzende Neubauten – contributes vocals to “Der Rhythmus der Maschinen.”

Having thoroughly investigated such historical matters as the first Mount Everest expedition, the global space race, and the British mining industry, London’s Public Service Broadcasting turns its attention to one of Europe’s most complex and fascinating locales, the city of Berlin. Led by the intrepid (and exquisitely named) J. Willgoose, Esq., the experimental trio has over the years assembled a fascinating catalog that fuses detailed post-rock, folk, and electronica with the aural ephemera and sonic textures of their chosen themes. While their first three collections have relied heavily on the sampling of archival material, Bright Magic sees them utilizing a more impressionist and mood-based approach. In the spirit of Berlin-inhabiting English forebears like David Bowie and Depeche Mode, Willgoose moved to Germany’s capital to study its history, character, and contemporary flow. Citing Bowie’s 1977 landmark album Low as a significant influence, he and the band have tapped into a similar dark futurism which is translated here through the use of thick analog synths, repetitive Krautrock motifs, and radiant crescendos. Samples are used sparingly (and effectively) and what vocals do appear are largely sung in German. Norwegian singer EERA appears on a pair of songs, as does Berlin-based Adreya Casablanca on the poppy “Blue Heaven.” More thrilling, though, are the entrancing instrumental tracks which Public Service Broadcasting manage to build so well. The glorious “Im Licht” and “The Visitor” simply glow with a sense of ambition and sophistication. The band even structures in a three-part mini-suite (“Lichtspiel”) that occupies much of the album’s second half before segueing into the lush closer “Ich und die Stadt,” over which German actress Nina Hoss narrates a sort of Berlin love letter. More of an immersive mood piece than a history lesson, Bright Magic is a bold new chapter for the group. – Timothy Monger

1. Public Service Broadcasting – Der Sumpf (Sinfonie der Grossstadt)
2. Public Service Broadcasting – Im Licht
3. Public Service Broadcasting – Der Rhythmus der Maschinen
4. Public Service Broadcasting – People, Let’s Dance
5. Public Service Broadcasting – Blue Heaven
6. Public Service Broadcasting – Gib mir das Licht
7. Public Service Broadcasting – The Visitor
8. Public Service Broadcasting – Lichtspiel I: Opus
9. Public Service Broadcasting – Lichtspiel II: Schwarz Weiss Grau
10. Public Service Broadcasting – Lichtspiel III: Symphonie Diagonale
11. Public Service Broadcasting – Ich und die Stadt