Sat May 10, Chop Suey, 9 pm, $10 adv.
A kind of coolness surrounds the Birmingham, England-based synth band Broadcast that perfectly delineates the chasm between electronic and electroclash. While deconstruction is clearly at the heart of both movements, Broadcast's lines are utterly well crafted and graceful, there are no tattered edges or frays, nor is the motivation to reinterpret detectably evident. To put it in design terms, Broadcast is Ann Demeulemeester rather than Imitation of Christ. Fine fabrics like cashmere and silk are stitched together with no obvious regard for defined edges or forced points--design comes from the nexus of material and vision, and from that exudes a coolness that speaks volumes on off-hand sexiness.
When Broadcast first surfaced in 1995 they were likened to Stereolab and Saint Etienne, and their devotion to '60s psychedelic band the United States of America was unmistakable. But 2000's The Noise Made by People reflected a bolder experimentalism rooted deep in eeriness and menace. It's an amazing document of electropop crossed with futurism, and again it comes back to the nexus of material and vision. A full-length is due from the band in August, but the just-released EP Pendulum is an excellent record that's also an exquisite tease. Analog synths crunch and hoot as Trish Keenan sings spaced-out lyrics on only a couple of tracks--most of the songs on the disc are crafty instrumentals. "One Hour Empire" scuffs and blares with measured beats and blats, leading into the delirious heartbeat of "Still Feels Like Tears," which sounds like magnetic sex with someone you don't trust. Will it fall apart immediately? Or, on closer inspection, will it reveal a hidden kismet? Now is not the time to decide, however; things are too hot to feel anything but icy, cool detachment.
"Violent Playground" comes on like a latent minefield waiting to explode in jarring syncopated blasts, while the title song launches Keenan into ethereal orbit as she observes love from some safer force field atmospheres away from reality. Album-closer "Minus Two" scrapes, scratches, and sears over a lovely, helium-filled background that swells into jazzy drumbeats, hinting at more coolly planned deconstruction to come.