4 Track Songs
By George Bass | 31 August 2009
Whizkid composer Peter Broderick has come a long, long way for someone still young enough to be penalised on their car insurance—long, for sure, for his label to uncork the archives and expose his humble origins to the world. Humble schmumble, let’s not beat about the bush: anyone prolific enough to turn in eight releases between their nineteenth and twenty-second birthdays has got to have some super back-story, and Type have laid bare their own rising star’s by sprucing up his demo CD (not only that, but they’ve saved a little production budget in the process—eat shit, economic downturn!). In fact, that should be demo CDs: 4 Track Songs encompasses the two-disc, twenty-five track submission Broderick made to the label several years back, back when his studio was just a slew of instruments and the world’s most fluff-filled cassette recorder. So balls to aforesaid production budget; Broderick was writing like a man possessed, and his technique of scribble/play/press record makes this mixed bag all the more charming.
To swallow his set in one complete sitting must be akin to having a chef throw blue steaks at you—into pan, sizzle, add spice, quick, here’s the next one. It feels like its perpetrator should be gloating, but in truth, he’s already onto the next course. So, naturally, you get duds. Some of Pete’s earlier vocal flirtations see him lobbying to be the next Nick Cave, but hey, we all said our prayers as a kid. What makes a few of these snippets feel just a little lame is only the sky-rocketing majesty of others—something Broderick would go on to realise more clearly as he refined himself with each new EP. “Piano & Rain”‘s warm fuzz is either water or a tin-pot tape recorder, and the faltering keys that brood like thunder mark his intentions as a would-be composer. These no-nonsense track titles were his signature back then, by the way: 4 Track Songs is very much a peek through the inventor’s scrapbook, no room left for puns or hyperbole or any non-efficient dithering like that. Look at “G Major,” a seven-second chord that could easily be the tone on a church choir’s answerphone. You see? G major, plain as. He may be busy, but he’s still got time to work a little humour into his bid.
What Type honcho John Twells obviously spotted in the untangling of these works is first evident on the ninth arrangement, the gloomy grand piano and heroic feint of “More Of A Composition.” This one will shoot you out of your shoes, I promise you, and Broderick indulges but never over-milks his valiant concerto for five minutes. Though he never quite scales the same heights again, he does demonstrate a seemingly extraordinary range and deftness with everything he touches. The dark tolls of “Jenn is Sick” mix total defeat with murky keyboard stabs, ending as the kind of pattern Paul Oakenfold would beef up with trance and use to reel in the rhythm-seekers. Elsewhere, some medicinal mood-lightening banjo crops up to dispel any excess earnestness; I’m talking “For Pop” and again on “Get Well Soon.”
4 Track Songs‘ main pull, however, is how it truly doesn’t feel like a cash-in. It’s more like an essay on the early trappings of genius, with a sub-plot in layman’s survivalism thrown in to keep boys from bailing too early. As a certified Gifted Young Composer, Broderick somehow never comes across too diva—his pieces are earthy, emotional but sober—and this first attempt at seducing an audience with his skills could fair match most rival sophomores. The queasy organic landscapes slip from frumpy Beethovenia to vox pop in seconds (funniest excerpt to date: Girl on street on dictaphone: “I’ve converted my life to Jesus”; Pete on street on dictaphone: “Who’s Jesus?”), and they gather the early tangents of his plan like diagnosing Paganini with syphilis before exploring the man’s chronic health problems. Once you’ve got your head round the dead cat stories and sunstroke yarns the tape hiss won’t even register, you’ll hopefully click on to Broderick’s intentions of a warts ‘n’ all crash-course in composing. It might have made a tighter EP, but imagine if Nick Cave had shot straight ahead with award-winning soundtracks in his first breath. You’d have thought he was some sort of lizard.