David Thomas Broughton

David Thomas Broughton vs. 7 Hertz EP

(Acuarela; 2007)

By Dom Sinacola | 5 November 2007

I hope I can encourage you to go get this. Because oh man, this record has got some great, magical, creepy stuff right here. Also, it is, technically, a “mini”-record, which births all kinds of interesting presumptions: stuff’s improvisational, recorded with 7 Hertz in an old chapel in much the same way his debut came about, and appropriately loose or ugly as sketches of songs grow from the inside out; David Thomas Broughton vs. 7 Hertz is just a preview, like some sidestep before 5 Curses comes out whenever; good chance it sounds like The Complete Guide to Insufficiency (2005) too, as in the one-take rigor is lifted and curdled, injected by a black and white churchspace, which is a good sign because that was one incisive, refreshing debut.

Truth be told, I go weak in the knees for DTB. Whatever presumptions prove “mini” to be a dumb way to market Broughton’s latest release, the record is every bit as devastating as the sun is hot and Jesus was sagely bearded – which is to imply that expectations have been met and Broughton’s caste-like reformation into something of a grotesque demagogue is coming to fruition.

The signs are plenty. At a moden art museum in Spain he shudders like a dork, disappears only to become a silhouette in the crowd taking off his belt and whipping the pavement. He poses with Elvis hips at the Neu!Club and croons like Antony. At the End of the Road festival he’s completely HILARIOUS. In Leeds he’s completely revered. In Leeds I imagine a West Yorkshire Flint, and if Broughton only spins in spare orbits around his home, then his arrangements and live experiences are products (or apoplectic solutions) for his environment, more hopelessly romantic and violently erotic with each release. If Broughton ever played anywhere else but in the UK and Spain, then maybe I could affirm what I’ve already inculcated into my obsessive music brain mush, that his absurdist shows balance the warmth of the hearth with the unsettling closeness of corpulent lyrics and nauseous serendipity. The flesh, it seems to Broughton, is always wet and bloated, always smashing and hitting things while still being weak, in constant peril (from “Jolly”: “There are so many carcinogens in this world / I can feel the swelling in my nodes”). The consummate connoisseur of sideshow spectacle, he’s getting big and he’ll get bigger, he’ll eventually leave, is already starting to bring his crew with him across the seas, but for now his homebody tactics imbue vs. 7 Hertz with familiar, gracious space. If I can borrow freely from Joel and Chet’s Radiohead review, Broughton, shaggily, practices, with fists pumped, “an aesthetic approach that understands how context complements sound instead of disguising it.”

Leaving this release a bit of a mini-miracle, all grace and pomp but still a basic conflation of Broughton’s pedals and impeccable, intuitive smarts. And with Leeds experimental jazz and folk outfit 7 Hertz in tow, Broughton’s skewered found noise is honed into razor thin indulgence. “Weight of My Love” is only as rumbling as the upright bass and bassoon that split up Broughton’s dandy laments; when he wails, “My love, my love for you,” and the band separates, the rushing in of blank slated dark is crushing. Similarly, “River Outlet” crops the set with epic abandon. Its visceral impact is nothing short of phenomenal, a simple slip into chaos preceded by the best looped utilization of an acoustic squelch since, um, Ani DiFranco. Nothing is wasted in Broughton’s arsenal--the violins trust him, mimic and then harmonize with his heavy fingers--and even a scratched fret board or a fumbled marble develop a glut of dread behind the rising lilt of strings and gurgling tenor. His circus becomes believable as Broughton opens up his studio to chance, so improvisation is at the mercy of its environment. Found sound, surely: the album just seems plain effortless, channeled, a fascinating -logue from a fascinating performer completely in sync with his element.

Broughton’s one talented shit; in turns both proud and loathsomely uncomfortable, he’s a musician dedicated to ambience, the logistics of which are simple: he commands the stuff around him, in utter, empirical control of every ostensibly random track, an idealistic barker glowing with power and creation, mustache and lion’s mane glistening. That is the only way I can understand the musician, because if any of this is haphazard or sloppy, the myth is broken, the mise-en-scene collapses, and 5 Curses could suck, leaving my hott anticipation a wasted effort and some lost noise.