peter broderick

Peter Broderick – London Concert Review
August 26, 2015 9:00 am

On the evening of August 13th a little oasis was created right in the busy heart of London’s West End.

Inside St. Giles in the Fields Church, the noise of all the cars, commuters, and party-goers are inaudible to the crowd of around 150 people all huddled together as they wait for Peter Broderick to make his appearance. Laid out on the stage were a guitar, a bass, a violin, a piano, four mics, and about half a dozen loop stations. So Peter’s touring with a band? No, he entered the stage alone. Initially he acts as his own roadie: testing the microphones and tuning his violin. Seated right at the front, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to stare at him or whether I’m supposed to pretend he isn’t there at all. At 9:15 sharp, right on schedule, Broderick approached one of the microphones. “I’m sorry to start when so many of you are still in the queue for the toilet but don’t worry. These first few songs are for you as well.” He’s considerate, to say the least.

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His first song wasn’t one of his own. It’s a cover, but it has Peter Broderick’s style written all over it. He starts on the violin, looping different melodies every four bars. He does the same with his guitar, and within no time the church was echoing with sound. No band needed. The same goes for his own subsequent songs, “Not At Home” and “Colours of the Night.”

Broderick’s whole performance hung in this balance between melancholy and humorous. The songs have a predominantly sad tint to them, yet he didn’t seem to take himself too seriously. He took the liberty to address the audience in various amusing ways, often while he plays. “I had the most ridiculous thought when I was playing that song just now. I think it’s my only song that could be classified as sexy, but it’s impossible to look sexy playing this casio keyboard.” Oh, Peter.

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There were a few minor technical malfunctions during the show too, but he easily shrugged them off with ease. “Chris has been doing the sound here tonight everybody, and he’s doing a great job.” We all applaud. “But seriously dude, turn the fucking microphone on.” We all laugh. Everything feels so spontaneous. Broderick seemed to possess a peculiar talent of being in the zone and out of it at the same time.

On the whole, the concert had an intimacy I rarely experience. Broderick’s connection with the audience felt very genuine. One of the songs he dedicated to a man named Xavier, who has apparently been present at every one of his shows in London ever since he began touring. He also let the audience choose which song they would like to hear for his encore.

For my own sake as a fan (and perhaps his sake as an artist), I hope he will always retain this level of fame. I would hate to see his performances loose that level of intimacy, and only with a crowd this size in a space like St Giles Church can it be made possible. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy big spectacles and massive music festivals as much as the next person. Still, in this age of social media, paparazzi, and humongous televised talent contests in which one-hit wonders are hyped up beyond belief and then dropped without a moment’s notice, such a tangible and intimate performance felt like a breath of fresh air.

Peter Broderick’s performance flew by, and I can only hope that the time between this concert and the next will fly too.

The Album Leaf – Master of Melancholy
July 6, 2015 2:02 pm

The Album Leaf has been around for quite a while. The solo musical project was founded by multi-instrumentalist Jimmy LaValle in 1998, only to have its first album released the following year. Originally a guitarist for the San Diego-based post-rock band Tristeza, LaValle is now widely known for his iconic use of electronics and Rhodes piano. His tracks are predominantly instrumental, and strike a unique balance between ambient music and post-rock.

There’s something oddly ‘faceless’ about The Album Leaf. I don’t know why, but despite knowing what LaValle looks like, I find it hard to picture him when listening to his music. In the rare occasions that he does use vocals, the voices are mixed to blend into the background. The music is so simple and organic, that it feels as if no one is, in fact, playing it at all. What remains is an acute feeling of yearning and wonder, a trait often associated with ambient music, such as that of Eluvium or Helios. The familiar ding of the Rhodes piano is everywhere in LaValle’s music, and it is baffling to hear how he makes this electronic sound from the 70’s ooze such a distinct melancholy.

LaValle began his career by collaborating with a whole variety of San Diego based bands. Nowadays he seems to have found his place alongside many contemporary Icelandic musicians. Much of his music has been made in collaboration with band members from Sigur Rós, Amiina, and Múm. He was also part of the Iceland Airwaves back in 2003, where he was backed by his collaborators. His music has been recognized as being particularly cinematic. To mention only a few examples, his song “Over The Pond” was used in Paulo Sorrentino’s The Family Friend, and more recently in a stunning compilation of Richard Linklater’s films created by Sight & Sound Magazine in the lead-up to the release of Boyhood.

Sadly, we haven’t seen a new studio album by The Album Leaf since 2010, but LaValle is clearly keeping himself busy. About a year ago he released this incredible song in collaboration with Oregon-based musician Peter Broderick, and his composed soundtrack to the 2014 film Spring was only just released last March.

Still, if you haven’t heard of The Album Leaf, you have a lot of catching up to do. Get listening folks! 

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