Peter Broderick

Venue: Reading, Reading arts centre
Website: Peter Broderick's Myspace
Label: Bella Union
Writer: Alan Sanderson

Peter Broderick performed at Reading arts centre with Johann G. Winther and local folk/minimalists The Pawnbroker. The latter were up first. Playing a sombre soundtrack to the eye-rolls and ‘tuts’ aimed our way. Perfectly just, considering we muscled straight to the front cluster of circular tables like excited teenagers. I felt it necessary, especially in the knowledge that I’d be writing this.

The Pawnbroker are a two-piece piano/voice ensemble who were commissioned to compose a soundtrack for Andrei Tarkovsky's 'Solaris' in 2009 and now a live accompaniment to ‘I stand alone’ directed by Gasper Noè, no other. Although my company was untouched by the pair’s very serious efforts, I found it catalysed some inward visualisation. Was this because my mind felt the music was only half of the story and inserted a video track? I would like to rehear the music alongside the aforementioned films to give a clearer context. The Noè commission is bound to be worth some attention.

Following a sample of Reading’s fine local ale we were seated and strapped in. Peter introduced himself and Johan humbly, lifting the dense mist of formality left behind by The Pawnbroker. Having already cased the joint for the headline’s kit list, I waited eagerly to hear how the guitars, a piano, a violin and a saw (of the wood chopping variety) would be captured and arranged using four microphones and a loop pedal. Those of you who wondered how the luscious vocal harmonies on the ‘Home’ album were laid down will be pleased to hear that they are done the old fashioned way. Singing and layering iteratively on the fly using loop pedals is no mean feat, but each line was slotted onto the last with surprising ease. The vocal harmonies were very tight, sounding slightly vocoded or autotuned. Although I can’t rule out artefacts added by the loop pedal, my call is that the timbre is simply a product of carefully chosen chords and a bang-on delivery. The breathy vocal found on ‘Home’ that I assumed was exaggerated in the studio was there in real time. He has clearly spent many hours honing his skills using loop pedals to layer vocals, not to mention instruments, and it paid off fully that night.

Peter performed favourites like ‘Home’ and ‘It’s alright’ alongside his new material ‘with a key’ and ‘sideline’. He also treated the crowd to an accumulative piano instrumental ‘It’s a storm when I sleep’ that was written for a release in Japan and highlights his prowess as a pianist. Altogether the long and short were sewn together with the soft and loud, all given over with a relaxed homely delivery. Highlights included Peter’s acapella stroll into the audience, climbing onto a table to sing into the rafters before making for the stage to feed the hungry audience with more well played piano, guitar and violin lines. I had willed him to perform ‘Below it’ but was ill prepared for the jaw dropping bowed saw introduction that was layered into a four part harmony. Heads shook in disbelief. I’m gushing uncontrollably and should dish the dirt, but in all honesty Peter Broderick’s stage performance was worth every penny. It wasn’t overly polished or acted, hence the jovial mood he translated. Imperfections such as the gulp sound that interrupts a word on the recording of ‘hello to Nils’ sum this musician up. No doubt, kids out there will be covering that song for youtube with the swallow left in.

Johan G. Winther a.k.a. Tsukimono played an essential role in the show as a whole. His performances were split cleanly and obviously between folky guitar songs and what can only be described as musique concrète. Some of the analysts in the room evidently felt Johan’s electronic arrangements were not worthy of full attention as they babbled at the bar, despite his reminder that “this is real music too”. Indeed it was music, field recordings blended with oscillations from a sound generator, broken down through guitar pedals, a Korg Kaoss Pad and who knows what else. The finalè came when Johan held a 24bit recorder to Peter’s upright piano to sample a beautifully keyed loop. Casually he returned to his sound-shaping machine and connected the device. I knew what was on the cards. The processed version of the piano loop crackled into the room, cloaked in noise that pulsed and roared in our faces. My neck tingled and a stupid smarmy grin stretched across my face. The girl next to me winced as the sound shredded her composure. Scrub as I might, the stupid grin will not budge.

#Bella Union #Classical #Peter Broderick #Reading, Reading arts centre #Gigs #Alan Sanderson

Posted: Sun 31 October 2010