Although it might seem a little self-indulgent, the main purposes of putting this album of b-sides/odds and ends together are entirely practical. First up, it allows me to tidy up my complete mess of a bandcamp site, and secondly it brings together all the Broads bits and pieces that have never been available on CD. It also gives me an excuse to ramble on in these liner notes, as is traditional for this kind of thing.
So, to begin at the beginning: The Single Rev EP was Broads’ birth, meanderingly cobbled together in the wake of boredom and inertia since the (100% amicable) split of my previous band, Tiger MCs. At this point, Broads wasn’t a band, or a project, or anything at all, really – I just fancied making some sounds and putting them on the internet. Wren’s Egg was the first bit of Broadsism that came into existence – The idea of splicing unrelated parts into a whole (particularly in threes) is one that’s evolved over time (see Packet Signals, In The Sink Locale, SIFLIATD amongst others) and on Wren’s Egg that idea is at its most basic, stripped down and formative. Special Spain was a bunch of guitar noise/feedback recorded through a webcam mic (soundcard routing went haywire and I’d come too far to turn back by the time I realised), and the title track is the first example of what would come to qualify as a ‘proper’ song – again chopped up into discrete sections but flowing fairly smoothly seeing as this was all new territory for me at the time.
After Single Rev I got straight on with writing and recording the Broads LP, and took the last-minute decision to put out Long Leaves as a kind of trailer to the album (I hesitate to use the term ‘single’, but I guess that’s what it was). That needed some nominal b-sides, so I threw together some found sound loops and an old tape recording of a pretty little chord progression that I had no idea how to replicate and called it Foreign Loop for no good reason. To go along with all that abstraction, I thought it would be fun to mangle a Swirlies song underneath a wall of RS09. I sent a copy to Damon Tutunjian, and he tactfully avoided comment.
Having put out the album and follow-up Care & Handling EP on Fuselab in 2014, Graham Boosey, who I knew from playing Tiger MCs gigs in Southend asked if I’d like to put together a lo-bit floppy disk EP for his label Wrieuw, which of course I did. The resulting EP, Omno, came together really quickly, and whilst Lamb and (especially) Yawn Dominoes followed on quite logically from Care & Handling, the title track was a real departure – the first time I’d put together a purely-electronic piece. Listening back, Omno is ridiculously basic and clumsy, but it’s an important step in Broads’ evolution, and for that I enjoyed revisiting it.
The hissing at the end of Yawn Dominoes, by the way, is the phased-up sound of some fine Cumberland sausages under the grill.
Excited about exploring some new directions, I followed Omno by writing and recording the Hellas LP over the course of about 6 weeks in the spring of 2015. It was done by April, but took absolutely ages (through no-body’s particular fault, it’s just how things go sometimes) to inch towards release. It eventually came out on Fuselab around Christmas, by which time I’d got impatient enough to record and put out a little freebie download single – Fang People and eoh are two of my favourite Broads recordings, the first songs made from scratch in the shed studio (shtudio?) and oddly atmospheric in differing ways. eoh is the closest to IDM that I’m likely to get, another electronic experiment that bore fruit. We played Fang People live at The Murderers in Norwich once, it was a bit of a mess.
Around the same time Fuselab asked for a track for their 5th anniversary compilation, so I chucked a bunch of internet-stolen samples and GM754 chords into Reaper and out came Let’s Build a House. I’m not sure if that compilation ever came out, so that might make LBAH the neon sticker EXCLUSIVE! unit-shifter track on this comp. The lyrics are (mostly) about me falling off my bike, and the end section rips off Pause by Stereolab pretty shamelessly.
About 6 months later, Still More or Less Above the Level of Water appeared as a b-side to Carriage Return, the preview/single track for Broads’ split LP with EPIA. It’s another massive rip-off, but this time I opted to plagiarise myself, which I think makes it slightly more acceptable. So anyway, the chords are the same as Don’t Flow, the closing track from the Care & Handling EP barely disguised under a sort-of tremolo effect. It’s pretty, and that’s what counts.
Anyway, I hope this CD manages to shed some light on some of the mysterious inbetweeny-bits. It’s a bit of a mis-matched rabble, but tune in carefully and there’s some real love going on in these 30-odd minutes. Now to tidy up that bandcamp page… Thanks – for listening.
JF, August ‘16