[30 January 2008]
In what’s been called a mini-album but is actually much closer to the real thing, David Thomas Broughton vs. 7 Hertz offers a series of sparse/dense experimental folk meditations. West Yorkshire-bred, London-based musician David Thomas Broughton has already put out a record of the sort that builds cults (2005’s The Complete Guide to Insufficiency), and here he’s even more obtuse. The collaboration with Leeds group 7 Hertz, which approaches jazz, classical and even klezmer music through improvisation, leads to a series of long (between 10 and 22 minutes), atmospheric compositions that take a single melodic idea, repeat a few times, and then let the musicians noodle around without obvious direction. Nevertheless, when he’s singing, Broughton’s voice is compelling – his mournful, vibrato-laden baritone a mix between Nick Drake and Antony. And as the pieces progress – “Weight of My Love” and the epic “River Outlet” especially – the music rises up to a point of glorious gothic cacophony, before catapaulting back to the original themes. If you have the patience to sit through a group like Jackie O Motherfucker’s extended deconstructions of American folk, you may also find in this collaboration a similar, clattering sort of hidden beauty.